While the rest of the world was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, a lucky few used their smarts and more than ample resources to amplify their wealth. China, in particular, saw the fastest rise and now has more people in the so-called elite club more than ever.
According to the latest Wealth Report by property consultancy Knight Frank, China's ultra-wealthy people, a group of individuals whose net worth is more than $30 million saw a spike by 16% in 2020. Earning the second spot is Sweden, whose wealthy bunch grew by 11%, and then followed by Singapore at 10%.
"The number of UHNWI [ultra high net worth individuals] in China has grown by 137% in the past five years and is expected to grow by 46% in the next five years," said Knight Frank's Martin Wong. "By 2025, the UHNWI population in China will reach over 103,000, which would put it firmly in second place worldwide."
The study notes that equities, which constituted around a quarter of the portfolios of the super-wealthy, were a big driver of their wealth in 2020, taking advantage of the lockdown that gave them time to monitor the stock holdings.
Much of the stock markets collapsed by about 30% in March last year, but have since bounced back, especially in the United States.
Although more mainland Chinese have entered the ranks of the super-rich, not one mainland city has made it the top 10 richest cities in the world. London and New York were tied as cities that cornered much of the world's wealth, followed by Paris.
The U.S. is expected to remain the country with the largest number of affluent individuals, with its existing population of more than 180,000 estimated to rise by 24% over the next five years, Wong said.
The U.S. is taking the lead in the number of ultra-rich people, even though wealth growth has recently risen in Asia-Pacific locations such as China and Hong Kong, according to the report. The region's wealthiest billionaires currently have a total value of $2.7 trillion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, or more than triple the amount at the end of 2016.
Asia Pacific is expected to continue to outpace global growth in ultra-high net worth individuals from 2020 to 2025, with more than $30 million of people climbing 33%, according to Knight Frank, led by India and Indonesia