Australia strikes it rich with influx of millionaires

SYDNEY • They are all going to the land Down Under.

Australia is luring increasing numbers of global millionaires, making it one of the fastest-growing wealthy nations in the world, said reports from New World Wealth.

The influx may be due to its superior healthcare system and lower inheritance taxes, ideal location for doing business with Asia and proximity to the South Pacific islands that allows retired yacht owners to sail away.

Over the past decade, total wealth held in Australia has risen by 85 per cent, compared with 30 per cent in the United States and 28 per cent in Britain, aided by the fact that Australia has gone 25 years without a recession.

As a result, the average Australian is now significantly wealthier than the average American or Briton. The country may attract even more migrants as racial and religious tensions rise in Europe, said the reports.

At the end of last year, individuals held about US$192 trillion (S$272.6 trillion) of wealth worldwide, or about 11 times the US gross domestic product, with 13.6 million millionaires holding US$69 trillion of this.

There were 522,000 multimillionaires having net assets of US$10 million or more. "Wealth" refers to the net assets of a person, including property, cash, equity and business interests - minus any liabilities.

Given its relatively small population, Australia also makes an appearance on a list of average wealth per person. This one is, however, dominated by small tax havens.

Wealth per person is a better measure of financial health than GDP per capita, said New World Wealth, because it avoids multiple counting, assesses the efficiency of the local banking sector and stock market at retaining wealth in the country, and adjusts for anomalies where the bulk of GDP flows to the government.

The reports are based on profiles of more than 150,000 global millionaires; interviews with migration experts, wealth managers and property agents; and government and other data.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Australia strikes it rich with influx of millionaires'. Print Edition | Subscribe