Jump in number of Singapore millionaires: Credit Suisse

The Singapore skyline reflected in the lotus pond under the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands at 9am in the morning. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
The Singapore skyline reflected in the lotus pond under the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands at 9am in the morning. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

Figure now at 174,000, thanks to recovery of financial markets: Report

The number of millionaires here has risen at a sharp rate, thanks to the robust recovery of financial markets in the past year.

The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report found that Singapore's total wealth grew by 8.7 per cent to US$1.1 trillion (S$1.37 trillion) in the 12 months to mid-2013. Average wealth per adult increased by 6.8 per cent to US$282,000. This figure includes a person's home, if he owns it.

This is quite a turnaround from the last report, which showed that between mid-2011 and mid-2012, total household wealth in Singapore dipped by 2.5 per cent to US$1 trillion, while the average wealth of people fell by 4 per cent to US$258,117. As a result, Singapore is now ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region after Australia in terms of wealth per adult, up one spot from last year. Globally, Singapore is now in eighth position.

Switzerland retained its top spot, with average wealth of US$513,000 per person, followed by Australia in second place with average wealth of US$403,000 and Norway in third at US$308,000.

The report defines wealth as the value of financial assets plus real assets - mainly real estate - minus household debt.

Towards the top of the wealth pyramid, the number of millionaires in Singapore reached 174,000 by the middle of this year, a rise of 11.5 per cent from last year. It is the highest number that Credit Suisse has recorded here since publishing the annual report in 2010, although the bank revised the way it recorded wealth two years ago.

This number is forecast to further rise by 35 per cent in the next five years to 235,000 in 2018.

This is part of an overall growth story that has been long in the making, said Credit Suisse's private banking and wealth management Asian economist Dennis Tan.

"Over the period of 2000 to 2013, with robust and stable economic growth, average household wealth per adult in Singapore has increased 150 per cent from US$112,800 to US$281,800, at an average growth rate of 7.3 per cent per annum," he said.

"Most of the rise is due to the high savings rate and asset price increases rather than exchange rate movements, although the latter provided a strong boost after the global financial crisis."

Total household assets in Singapore in the middle of this year were divided evenly into financial assets and non-financial assets, reflecting the Government's strong encouragement for both savings and home ownership, he added.

Despite the concerns that have been raised about rising household debt in Singapore, Mr Tan also noted that debt levels here are actually on a par with those seen in other developed markets.

"Although it has grown fairly quickly in recent years, the average debt of US$54,500 per adult is moderate for a high-wealth country, at just 16 per cent of total assets," he said.

The distribution of wealth in Singapore shows a moderate level of inequality, Mr Tan added.

About 80 per cent of the population have wealth above US$10,000 and 46 per cent have wealth above US$100,000, six times the global average.