Asia-Pacific Wealth Overtakes Europe's

The region recorded the fastest growth in wealth last year, with China alone minting a million new millionaires

Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg

Private financial wealth in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) overtook Europe's last year as China minted a million new millionaires, according to a study by The Boston Consulting Group.

Next in Asia's rearview mirror: the U.S.

Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) is projected to have $57 trillion in private financial wealth in 2016, surpassing North America's $56 trillion.

A strong “old world versus new world” dynamic is driving the wealth shift, the BCG study found. Asia-Pacific (ex Japan) recorded the fastest growth in wealth in 2014, with an expansion of 29 percent.

Here's a statistic that won't please Thomas Piketty -- millionaire households held 41 percent of global private wealth last year, up from 40 percent a year earlier. They're projected to hold 46 percent of global private wealth in 2019.

The U.S. still had the most number of millionaire households in 2014 (7 million), followed by China (4 million), and Japan (1 million). When it comes to the density of millionaires, Switzerland came out top with 135 out of every 1,000 households having private wealth greater than $1 million. Bahrain (123), Qatar (116), Singapore (107), Kuwait (99), and Hong Kong (94), rounded out that list, showing when it comes to wealth, smaller is better. 

For Europe's private bankers, the report has a warning: "Switzerland will need to reinvent itself to resist the threat from fast-developing Asian booking centers as preferred locations for offshore wealth,'' it said. Hong Kong and Singapore accounted for 16 percent of global offshore assets in 2014 and are expected to grow in prominence.

A caveat -- Chinese and Indian investments in local equities drove much of the wealth gain for Asia last year. And as they say, what goes up… 

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