Lankans among fastest-growing millionaires

Sri Lanka is among the six of the 10 countries in Asia with the fastest-growing millionaire populations, led by Hong Kong and Vietnam, which each saw annual growth of 33 percent, a latest survey said. Others included Indonesia, Singapore, and India.

According to the 15th annual World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch’s wealth management division and the consultancy Capgemini Asia had more millionaires than Europe for the first time last year and is fast closing in on North America for the top spot. The Asia-Pacific region was home to 3.3 million people in 2010 worth $1 million or more, excluding their homes, an increase of roughly 10 percent from the year before, Asia’s growth outpaced that of Europe, where so-called high-net-worth individuals increased 6 percent to 3.1 million, and puts it within reach of passing North America, where the number of wealthy rose 8.6 percent to 3.4 million.

The report’s findings illustrate how Asia’s economies are growing much more quickly than those in developed countries and, in the process, minting scores of millionaires and billionaires. Asia’s growth has been powered by China and India, whose economies grew 9 to 10 percent last year, while European and North American growth was in the low single digits.

“It is entirely conceivable that Asia would overtake North America in the near future,’’ said Wilson So, a managing director at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.

The United States, Japan, and Germany still account for just over half the world’s 10.9 million wealthy, while China is in fourth place with 535,000, about 58,000 more than in 2009.

Australia has moved up one notch to ninth place, edging out Italy, and India cracked the top 12 for the first time. It replaced Spain, which fell to 14th. While 2010 was the first time that Asia has overtaken Europe in absolute numbers of wealthy people, it is the second year that Asia’s combined wealth was bigger than Europe’s.

The world’s wealthy were worth a total of $42.7 trillion in 2010.

Asia’s share of that wealth amounted to $10.8 trillion, putting it in second place for the second year in a row, just behind North America’s $11.6 trillion.
Asia also had a bigger proportion of young millionaires, with 3 percent age 30 or under.

Globally, women are increasingly in the ranks of millionaires. The report found that 27 percent of the world’s wealthy last year were women, up from 24 percent in 2009.

While the majority of wealth is held by Americans, Japanese, and Germans, the authors of the report expect the distribution to become more diverse over time as developing countries continue to grow faster than developed ones.

The super rich, defined as people worth more than $30 million, also fared well. Their numbers grew 10 percent to 103,000 last year



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