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Wealth management: International outlook pays well for HNWIs

High net-worth individuals (those with more than $1 million in financial assets) increased their wealth by 8.5% in 2005, according to the 2006 Capgemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report. And the number of HNWIs rose by 6.5% to 8.7 million.

The greatest gains in numbers of HNWIs were in emerging markets. South Korea’s high-net-worth population increased the most, by 21.3%, from 2004 to 2005. India, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia posted the next biggest increases in HNWI numbers.

Widely expected significant growth in the number of HNWIs in the US did not materialize; in fact the rate of growth slowed to 6.8% from 9.9% the previous year. US HNWI growth: “seems to have peaked – along with the nation’s economic recovery – in 2003 and 2004”, says the report.

US HNWIs will need to abandon a domestic bias in investment if they are to keep up with the rest of the world. A continuing shift to international holdings is being played out elsewhere in the world, in part fuelling the growth in assets of the world’s wealthy to $33.3 trillion. The most notable developments were increases in allocations to Asian markets and decreases in exposure to North America. Latin America, though, is still considered to be unstable and attracted only 7% of total assets. Even Latin American wealthy investors prefer North America to their domestic markets. Europe attracted 22% of wealthy assets, making it the third most popular region.

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