The balance of global wealth has begun to shift from traditional western economies to the emerging markets. The unprecedented growth of the Chinese economy, the expansion of India and the ongoing progress of markets in Russia, Brazil and other emerging nations, have led to this change in the nature of the world’s richest individuals and families. While the United States still has the greatest number of ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs), China, Russia and India have overtaken Western Europe in the number of billionaires they produce. This marks a fundamental shift in the social demographics of the world’s ultra-rich population.
Forbes Insights, in association with Societe Generale Private Banking, examined the unique characteristics of ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in a dozen countries. The analysis is based on exclusive data from Forbes Magazine’s database of the world’s wealthiest people. The minimum net worth of the individuals studied was US$1 billion, with three exceptions: India ($500 million minimum), China ($425 million minimum), and Singapore ($190 million minimum).
Selected key findings
There are extremely strong family links among the UHNWIs studied. This is a global phenomenon present in nearly all markets, with a few notable exceptions such as Russia. In many societies, keeping family close is a priority, as they have their children and other family members involved in their businesses. Still, as generations pass, some conflicts can arise, particularly when investments are managed by a family office.
Philanthropy and charity remain priorities for many UHNWIs as they look for ways to create a more lasting legacy and have a greater impact on society. In three quarters of the markets studied, more than 40% of the UHNWIs fund their own charitable foundation, or run a charitable foundation founded or started by other family members. Yet this is not yet universal. China remains a significant outlier, as only 7% of UHNWIs have foundations. But efforts are underway to encourage greater giving and philanthropy from the emerging Chinese billionaires.
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