Fewer ultra rich people in Singapore in 2015, but long-term wealth growth intact

Luxury residences at Singapore's Sentosa Cove.
Luxury residences at Singapore's Sentosa Cove.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The number of ultra rich individuals in Singapore dropped last year (2015) when global wealth was eroded by economic slowdown, according to the Wealth Report by Knight Frank.

There were 2,360 ultra high net worth individuals - those with US$30 million (S$42 million) in assets or more - in Singapore last year, down 8 per cent from 2014, the property consultancy firm found in a survey that polled around 400 private bankers, including 30 here.

Despite the drop, Singapore still came in sixth on a list of top 20 cities by wealth distribution. New York and London was first and second respectively. Hong Kong was third and Los Angeles was ranked fifth.

The drop here was part of the 3 per cent global decline in the number of ultra rich last year. The decline was 15 per cent in Malaysia and 6 per cent in Hong Kong.

But this will likely be a near term blip, as Asia will see 23,541 new ultra high net worth individuals emerging over the next 10 years - the largest absolute increase in the world, the report predicted.

Singapore will still feature prominently in this long-term growth, as it was named the third most important global city for these wealthy individuals in 2016, behind only London and New York, while overtaking Hong Kong at the fourth place.

"The conducive business environment and clear regulatory franework here have augmented Singapore's status amongst the wealthy as a preferred location to live and do business," Knight Frank Singapore research head Alice Tan said.

Singapore was also the joint number one - alongside Britain - country for residential property investment this year, with 79 per cent of respondents telling Knight Frank that their clients will explore real estate investment in Singapore.

But property prices will continue to moderate this year, with the firm forecasting a 3 to 6 per cent price drop in the overall private residential segment, as developers grapple with cooling measures that still pressure demand while a large supply remains in the pipeline.