How SA’s multi-millionaires make their money

Financial services is the main industry from which South African multi-millionaires,  individuals with net assets of US$10 million or more, have acquired their wealth.

This is according to a report published by New World Wealth which revealed the industry from which the country’s super rich have acquired their wealth.

Despite being only the fifth-largest country in Africa in terms of population, and ninth-largest by land area, South Africa is by far the most advanced and richest country on the continent.

At the end of 2014, there were approximately 46,800 HNWIs living in South Africa, with a combined wealth of US$184 billion. This equates to roughly 31% of South Africa’s total individual wealth.

According to NWW, South Africa is home to 2,060 multi-millionaires – high net worth individuals (HNWIs) worth US$10 million or more. These individuals boasted combined wealth of US$111 billion by the end of 2014.

639 of these were UHNWIs (individuals with net assets of US$30 million or more) who had an accumulative wealth of US$73 billion. Of this total, there were 6 billionaires, 87 centimillionaires and 546 affluent millionaires.

Centimillionaires are those HNWIs with net assets of between US$100 million and US$1 billion, while affluent millionaires are those with net assets of between US$30 million and US$100 million.

Financial services is the primary source of wealth for 20% of local multi-millionaires. Other important industries for them include real estate & construction (16%), basic materials (14%) and diversified (12%).

Multimillioniares by industry
Multimillioniares by industry

According to New World Wealth, the fastest growing sectors for South African multi-millionaires is telecoms, insurance – part of financial services – and healthcare.

The group said it expects the fastest growing sectors to be healthcare and media over the next several years.

Asset Class

NWW defines wealth as the net value of assets, including both financial holdings and tangible assets.

At the end of 2014, cash & bonds was the largest asset class for HNWIs in South Africa (30% of total HNWI assets), followed by equities (28%), real estate (20%), business interests (16%) and alternatives (6%).

Asset class
Asset class

South Africa: HNWIs – Allocations of HNWI Assets (%), 2007−2017

Asset Class 2007 2014 2017
Hedge funds and other 4.7% 3.7% 3.4%
Commodities 1.5% 1.7% 1.7%
Collectables 0.6% 0.8% 0.9%
Total alternatives 6.9% 6.1% 6.0%
Local property 24.6% 18.0% 19.3%
Foreign property 1.5% 2.0% 2.1%
Total real estate 26.1% 20.0% 21.5%
Local cash and bonds 16.8% 24.2% 24.2%
Foreign cash and bonds 5.9% 5.8% 5.1%
Total cash and bonds 22.7% 29.9% 29.3%
Local equities 20.7% 19.8% 19.7%
Foreign equities 7.7% 8.1% 8.2%
Total equities 28.4% 27.8% 27.9%
Business interests (local) 15.9% 16.1% 15.4%
TOTAL 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

South Africa: HNWIs – Wealth Holdings Growth (%), 2007–2017

Asset class 2007-2014 2014-2017
Alternatives -2% 19%
Real estate -16% 32%
Cash and bonds 44% 20%
Equities 7% 23%
Business interests 11% 17%
Total assets 9% 23%

NWW believes that real estate is expected to be the top-performing asset class, followed by equities. As a result, there will be a movement away from cash towards these asset classes.

More on South Africa’s rich

How South Africa’s ultra-rich make their money

The best age to be rich and successful in SA

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How SA’s multi-millionaires make their money