Published November 06, 2013
Asia is becoming a hotbed for billionaires.
The world’s biggest consumer market saw the wealth of its billionaires jump by 13% in 2013, making it the world’s fastest-growing region for the ultra rich, according to the first-ever Billionaire Census by Wealth-X and wealth manager UBS (UBS).
Asia also recorded the biggest percentage rise of 3.7% in 2012 in its billionaire population, giving it more newly-minted billionaires than anywhere else in the world.
Wealth-X CEO Mykolas Rambus said Asia’s standout year confirms the region “is driving tectonic shifts in wealth.”
Of course, Asia is not alone. The world’s total share of billionaires is hitting record highs.
More than 810 new billionaires have been created since the 2009 global financial crisis, with the population’s net worth more than doubling during that time to $6.5 trillion – enough to fund the U.S. budget deficit through 2024 and greater than the gross domestic products of every country except the U.S. and China.
Some predict the planet could soon see its first trillionaire. In Credit Suisse’s (CS) Global Wealth Report, the wealth manager predicted last month that billionaires “will be commonplace” two generations ahead.
“Future extrapolation of current wealth growth rates yields almost a billion millionaires, equivalent to 20% of the total adult population,” the bank said. “If this scenario unfolds, then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too.”
Credit Suisse foresees at least 11 trillionaires emerging in the next few decades, which by today’s rates would make that tiny group wealthier than virtually 90% of the world’s counties by GDP.
But perhaps most interesting as this unfolds over the next few decades is the fact that the billionaire's club seems to be shifting to the Far East.
Europe remains home to the most billionaires with 766 individuals and North America has the most billionaire wealth at about $2.16 trillion, but Wealth-X predicts Asia will catch up to North America in five years.
Even today, Asia takes eight out of the top 20 spots for billionaire cities, the most of any regions in the world, including Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore and Beijing. Japan is surprisingly the fourth-wealthiest in Asia, attributed to the declining value of the yen.
And as Asia's middle and upper classes continue to rapidly expand amid its burgeoning private marketplace, the growth could prove exponential.
The region is now home to some of the world’s biggest companies, including a bubbling tech sector that encompasses China’s online search giant Baidu (BIDU) and its social media giant Weibo.