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Why Is Singapore Full Of Millionaires?

Singapore is arguably the Asia Pacific centre for private banking, one of many niches it has carved out of Hong Kong’s capital markets dominance over the last 10 years. But is it where the wealth is, or just where the wealth goes?

A new report from WealthInsight states the overall high net worth individual wealth in Singapore at US$748.8 billion in 2013, a figure that has risen 51.7% since the recovery from the global financial crisis began in 2009. The study expects Singaporean high net worth wealth to top a trillion by 2018.

Those numbers are short of Hong Kong’s – there, high net wealth stood at US$1.04 trillion in 2013 – but there is a growing sense that upheaval in Hong Kong, and the concern that its freedoms may be eroding, may drive more of that wealth to Singapore. One could hardly argue that Singapore is a model democracy – there’s been one party in charge since the country’s formal existence, although opposition candidates have finally started to win a few seats in elections – but the sense is that Singapore’s stability is not under threat and that the environment and infrastructure for private wealth management is extremely strong.

The report says there are more than 150,000 millionaires (the point at which one becomes a HNWI under the study’s methodology) in Singapore, and that there will be another 30,000 of them by 2018; it believes the billionaire population is 32, compared to 20 in the whole of (far bigger) neighbouring Malaysia.

None of these numbers come anywhere near comparison with the US or UK, but remember Singapore’s population stands at just 5.4 million. If this study is correct, that means one person in 36 in Singapore is a millionaire. Not bad odds at all.

Chris Wright is the author of No More Worlds to Conquer, published by HarperCollins.




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