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Mega-rich get richer, albeit a little slower than usual

The number of ultra wealthy people and their combined assets grew slightly in 2015 in spite of weak figures from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

According to data firm Wealth-X’s latest World Ultra Wealth Report, the number of people with $30 million or more in net assets, called ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) grew by 0.6 percent to 212,615 people in 2015. This growth coincided with the expansion of UHNW assets around the world.

During the year, UHNW wealth expanded by 0.8 percent to $30 trillion. The figures mean that 12 percent of the world’s total assets are owned by 0.004 percent of the total population.

Even for the ultra-rich, the expansion of wealth was not inclusive. In fact, the growth was exclusive to billionaires.
According to the report, the net worth of billionaires grew by 5.4 percent during the year. The rate was more than double the rate of expansion for the world economy. Meanwhile, everyone else that falls under the UHNW ranks saw their assets decrease by 0.6 percent.

Women were also left behind. Their share of the world’s UHNW assets dropped from 14 percent to 11 percent. The average net worth of ultra wealthy women also decreased $147 million to $126.3 million. This is in spite of their share of the UHNW population remaining flat at 13 percent.

There is also a generation gap at play among the ultra wealthy. According to the study, UHNW individuals over the age of 80 are seven times wealthier than their counterparts under the age of 30.

When taking into account regional sections, the Asia-Pacific region proved to be the most robust, with the ultra wealthy in the region expanding their net worth by 3.9 percent. Meanwhile, UHNW individuals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa saw their assets contract by 2.4 percent. In the Americas, Latin America was the strongest performer in terms of UHNW wealth, with assets growing by 1.5 percent.

UHNW individuals are expected to continue amassing wealth and growing their ranks. Wealth-X projected that the UHNW share of the world’s wealth will grow to $46.2 trillion by 2020. The number of ultra wealthy people is also expected to swell to 318,000 by that time.

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