Surprising number of South Africans in the world’s richest 10%

A new wealth report estimates that 4% of South Africa’s adult population – 1.2 million people – fall into the top 10% of global wealth holders.

Credit Suisse’s 2014 Global Wealth Report shows that global wealth increased by 8.3% in the past year, adding US$20.1 trillion to bring total world wealth to US$263 trillion.

North America is both the highest contributor (US$91.24 trillion) and biggest wealth grower (11.4%) since 2013, followed by Europe in both regards (US$85.2 trillion, 10.6%).

Africa remains the lowest wealth producer in the world, contributing only $2.83 trillion to the global total, but the region showed the third-largest growth, having increased 6.3% since 2013.

“Despite the setback in 2008, household wealth has risen strongly since the start of the millennium. The global aggregate has more than doubled from the US$117 trillion recorded for the year 2000,” the group said.

Wealth has more than doubled in every region except for Asia-Pacific.

World wealth 2014
World wealth 2014

Credit Suisse noted that population growth also accounts for some of the increase in total wealth, but when allowing for the rise in the adult population global net worth per adult has increased by 77% from 2000.

Notably, the report shows that the number of ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals (people with a net worth exceeding more than US$50 million) has also risen.

There are an estimated 128,200 UHNW individuals in the world as of 2014, and of these, 45,200 are worth at least US$100 million and 4,300 have assets above US$500 million.

The USA leads the globe, accounting for over half of the total, with 65,500 UHNWIs calling the States their home.

UHNWIs 2014
UHNWIs 2014

However, in terms of median wealth per adult, Australians were found to be the world’s wealthiest individuals with US$225,337 per person.

France (US$140,638 per person) and the United Kingdom (US$130,590 per person) are home to the second and third most wealthy people on average, respectively.

South African wealth

Credit Suisse estimates that 63,000 South Africans are members of the top 1% of global wealth holders and that 47,000 are USD millionaires.

1.2 million people – 4% of the adult population – fall into the top 10% of global wealth holders.

“These numbers are up a little from last year, despite a 5% fall in the rand, reflecting strong overall growth in wealth,” the group said.

Further, the group notes that South Africa’s average household wealth grew “vigorously” prior to the global financial crisis, tripling from US$8,400 in the year 2000 to US$25,800 in 2007.

“Since 2007, progress has been slower. In constant exchange rate terms, wealth declined a little in 2008, but growth soon recovered and gathered pace in 2013 – 2014,” the group noted.

The median wealth per adult in South Africa in 2014 is US$4,007, according to Credit Suisse.

Top wealth owners in the world (thousands)

# Country People in the top 10% (,ooo)
People in the top 1% (,000)
1 USA 104,621 18,014
2 Japan 62,635 4,047
3 France 28,680 3,528
4 UK 30,143 2,900
5 Australia 12,650 1,783
6 Canada 14,948 1,615
7 China 31,903 1,579
8 Switzerland 3,519 806
9 Taiwan 8,609 512
10 Brazil 5,051 296
11 India 3,757 238
12 Singapore 2,256 230
13 Russia 2,223 200
14 Indonesia 2,034 129
15 Chile 1,084 64
16 South Africa 1,280 63

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Surprising number of South Africans in the world’s richest 10%