South Africa sees big drop in ultra wealthy people

Global property consultancy group Knight Frank has published its 2022 Wealth Report, showing how wealth is set to grow in countries around the world over the next five years.

The report shows South Africa has seen a significant decline in Ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) over the last year – a trend that stands in contrast to much of the rest of the world

Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are defined as having a net worth of at least $30 million, including their primary residence.

The report shows that the number of UHNWIs in South Africa declined by -7% over the last year – from 603 in 2020 to 561 in 2021 – more than any other country on the ranking. This figure is expected to remain flat over the next five years, dropping to 559 UHNWIs by 2026.

By comparison, the world’s population of UHNWIs continues to grow and rose by 9.3% in 2021, following growth of 2.4% in 2020.

“The savings amassed during 2020 have enabled significant investment upside over the past 12 months. Access to technology and the digital democratisation of investments, including private equity, have led to greater levels of wealth creation and growth. This is something that will gain momentum over the coming years,” Knight Frank said.

“Asset price rises, from property markets to stock markets to luxury collectables, have all helped to boost the fortunes of those wealthy enough to hold investment portfolios.”

The top five gainers for UHNWIs, in absolute terms, were the US, the UK, France, Japan and the Chinese mainland. Equity markets played a big role with the French CAC 40 up around 30% during 2021, the US S&P 500 rising over 25% and the UK FTSE 250 around 15% higher.

South Africa wealth

Year HNWI ($1m+) UHNWI ($30m+)
2016 26 649 541
2020 28 043 603
2021 31 852 561
2026 34 064 559
2021-2026 forecast change +7% 0%

Between 2021 and 2026, Knight Frank forecasts that the global UHNWI population will grow by a further 28%. Over the ten years to 2026 that represents a more than doubling in the number of global UHNWIs – from 348,355 to 783,671.

“By 2026, Asia will surpass Europe as the second-largest regional wealth hub. During that time we predict, for example, that Singapore will have witnessed a 268% growth in its UHNWI
population to around 6,000. However, ten-year growth is led by Australasia.

“The region’s UHNWI population, led by New Zealand (from 1,249 to 4,618), is expected to more than treble by 2026,” it said.


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