SA’s dollar millionaires on the rise

10 July 2006

South Africa’s number of dollar millionaires rose by nearly 16% last year, joining three other countries with the fastest-growing population of the super-rich in the world.

According to the 10th annual World Wealth Report released by US-based investment groups Merrill Lynch and Capgemini last month, global millionaire numbers totalled 8.7-million in 2005, an increase of 6.5% on the previous year.

“South Africa’s 15.9% growth of dollar millionaires in 2005 was phenomenal … well above the global rate of 6.5,” Capgemini spokesperson Patrick McLaughlin told the Sunday Times. According to the report, the country now has a total of 42 883 millionaires.

The report defines millionaires – “high net worth individuals”, or HNWIs – as those holding more than US$1-million in financial assets, excluding their primary residence.

“The HNWI population grew most dramatically in South Korea, rising 21.3%; India rising 19.3%; Russia, where it rose 17.4%; and South Africa, where it grew by 15.9%,” the report says.

“Overall HNWI wealth during the period grew by 8.5%, to US$33.3-trillion in financial holdings. These financial gains were particularly strong in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, where emerging markets continue to play a moderate game of ‘catch up’ with major markets.”

Increase in high net worth individuals, 2004-2005
The top-performing countries in terms of increased numbers of millionaires from 2004 to 2005 (Image: Merrill Lynch)

The report attributes South Africa’s gain in part to the phenomenal growth on the JSE, Johannesburg’s stock exchange.

“Emerging and developing capital markets outpaced most mature stock markets,” the report says. “Markets such as India, South Korea, Poland and South Africa all returned better than 40%.”

The JSE All Share Index was the third-best performing in the world, with a 43% return in 2005, slightly under the 43.1% recorded by Poland’s WIG20. The top performer was the South Korean Kospi, with a 54% return, while other emerging market exchanges lagged behind, with India at 42.3%, Mexico at 37.8% and Brazil 27.7%.

In terms of general market value, the report says, “South Korea, Denmark, South Africa and Japan were among the best-performing markets in 2005, providing green pastures for HNWIs to cultivate their wealth”.

Africa as a whole saw the highest growth in HNWI numbers, at 11.7%, reflecting growing prosperity across the continent. The Middle East had 9.8% new millionaires, Latin America 9.7%, the Asia-Pacific region 7.3%, North America 6.9% and Europe 4.5%. The actual wealth of Africa’s high net worth individuals rose by 14.5%, the second-highest increase, after the Middle East, in the world.

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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