The ranks of global “ultra-high net worth” (UHNW) people swelled by 46,000 last year to a record 218,200, as the world’s richest people benefited from “almost an explosion of wealth” during the recovery from the pandemic.
The number of UHNWs – those with assets of more than $50m (£43.7m) – surged in 2021 as the super-rich benefited from rising house prices and booming stock markets, according to a Credit Suisse investment bank report. The number of people in the UHNW group has increased by more than 50% in the last two years.
The huge increase in wealth of the richest 0.00004% of the global adult population comes as billions of low- and middle-income people, many of whom saw their savings wiped out during the pandemic, struggle to cope. to skyrocketing food and energy prices.
“The sharp rise in financial assets resulted in a rise in inequality in 2021,” says the report from Credit Suisse, which helps manage the fortunes of many of the world’s richest people. “The increase in inequality is likely due to the increase in the value of financial assets during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report found that “a recovery in macroeconomic activity in a low-interest environment produced exceptionally favorable conditions for household wealth growth during 2021.”
“We estimate that global wealth amounted to $463.6 trillion at the end of 2021, an increase of $41.4 trillion (9.8%),” the report says. “Wealth per adult grew by $6,800 (8.4%) over the course of the year to reach $87,489, nearly three times the level recorded at the turn of the century.”
Anthony Shorrocks, an economics professor and author of the report, said there was “almost an explosion of wealth last year … probably higher than any other year we’ve recorded.”
The increase in wealth has not been distributed equally. The richest 1% of the global population increased their share of all global wealth for the second consecutive year to 46%, up from 44% in 2020.
The number of US dollar millionaires increased by 5.2 million during 2021 to a total of 62.5 million, just below the UK population of 67 million. Shorrocks said the number of millionaires was becoming so large that it was becoming “an increasingly irrelevant measure of wealth.”
More than a third of millionaires live in the US, which is home to 24.5 million millionaires, or 39% of the global total.
The number of American millionaires increased by 2.5 million, nearly half of all new millionaires minted worldwide. “This is the largest increase in the number of millionaires on record for any country in any year this century and reinforces the rapid increase in the number of millionaires seen in the US since 2016,” the report says.
China ranks second, with 10% of the world’s millionaires, ahead of Japan with 5.4%, the UK (4.6%) and France (4.5%).
Switzerland was again named the richest country in terms of median average wealth per adult at $700,000, ahead of the US at $579,000.
However, the inequalities in those countries stand out when looking at the median average wealth per adult. Switzerland falls to sixth place with a median wealth of $168,000 and the US falls to 18th place with $93,000. Australia tops the table for median wealth with $274,000.
UK adults have a median wealth of $309,000 (14th place) and a median wealth of $142,000 (9th place).
The country with the largest jump in average average wealth was New Zealand, which saw an average increase from $114,000 to $472,000.