101,000 Singapore millionaires in 2012; ranks of wealthy swell 10%

The share market rally sharply increased the ranks of Singapore's wealthy last year.

New figures out yesterday show that there were 101,000 millionaires by the end of 2012, a jump of 10.3 per cent over 2011.

Their total wealth went through the roof as well and was estimated to have hit US$489 billion (S$615 billion), up 11.5 per cent on the 2011 level.

The report by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management defines a millionaire as someone with US$1 million or more in investable assets.

Mr Barend Janssens, the head of emerging markets at RBC, said yesterday: "Singapore's prowess as a financial centre is without doubt, very, very strong.

"We see interest out of the region for people to invest here or invest that money through Singapore."

Yet while the numbers of Singapore's wealthy and the value of their assets is growing fast, the expansion rate is still behind Hong Kong's.

The number of Hong Kong millionaires soared by 35.7 per cent to 114,000 last year from 2011, while their total wealth grew at 37.2 per cent to US$560 billion.

The jump was high due to Hong Kong coming from a "much poorer performance on the stock exchange in 2011", said Mr Janssens.

He also noted that Indonesia and Thailand were doing well, with double-digit growth in the number of millionaires, although full figures for the region are not in yet.

Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan said Singapore's growth rates may seem lower than other countries, but factors such as the size of population have to be considered.

He added: "In broad terms, Singapore is still quite well-positioned as a financial centre and a wealth management hub. We have several advantages over Hong Kong, barring the haze right now."

The report found that the number of Asian-Pacific millionaires grew 9.4 per cent to 3.68 million last year, while North America added 11.5 per cent to 3.73 million.

The report included results from a survey of more than 4,400 millionaires across 21 countries.

It found that their main focus was preserving wealth while increasing it was a secondary concern.

RBC's Mr Janssens added that Singapore's millionaires tend to be more conservative in their investment choices, which is why the growth in millionaire numbers and wealth levels are not as high as in Hong Kong.

Yet Singapore's numbers speak for themselves, he added, noting: "The average wealth per individual for Singapore and Hong Kong would roughly be the same.

"If you have 100,000 wealthy individuals, with a total of almost US$500 billion in assets here, those are very significant numbers."

rachaelb@sph.com.sg

 

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