The growth in the number of wealthy individuals in the Asia-Pacific region is expected outpace all other regions of the world within the next five years. That growth will be driven in large part by consumer demand in China.<!-- IMAGE -->
The predictions come in a recent report by the investment firm Merrill Lynch and consulting group Capgemini Financial Services. Their World Wealth Report 2009 forecasts the North America and Asia-Pacific regions will outpace the rest of the world in the number of wealthy individuals over the next few years. And by 2013, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to surpass North America, the current leader.
The report, which defines the wealthy as having investable assets exceeding $1 million, says the United States, Japan and Germany together account for 58% of the world's high net worth individuals. China, it says, surpassed Britain in 2008 to become the home to the fourth largest wealthy population.
Another publication, the Hurun Rich List, highlights the rise in China's wealth. Five years ago, China had three billionaires. Hurun’s 2009 rankings indicate China has 130 billionaires. That compares to the United States, which currently has 371 billionaires, according to Forbes magazine.
The Asia-Pacific region has seen a decline in wealthy individuals due to the world financial crisis. In 2008, the region had a total of 2.4 million wealthy people, or 14-percent fewer than the previous year. Japan saw a relatively mild decline in the number of its rich (-9.9%), compared to Hong Kong (-61.3%) and India (-31.6%).