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World's rich grow richer as bull markets roar on: study

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Personal financial wealth swelled 12 per cent last year to nearly US$202 trillion, the strongest growth in five years as bull markets, and the US dollar's weakening against most major currencies boosted global fortunes, a study showed on Thursday.

[ZURICH] Personal financial wealth swelled 12 per cent last year to nearly US$202 trillion, the strongest growth in five years as bull markets, and the US dollar's weakening against most major currencies boosted global fortunes, a study showed on Thursday.

Adjusted for exchange rate swings, global wealth rose 7 per cent, the Boston Consulting Group survey found.

While residents of North America held the greatest share of personal wealth at almost 43 per cent, the fastest growth came in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Most super-rich individuals lived in the United States, China and Japan.

The consulting group's annual study showed Switzerland remained the world's biggest centre for managing offshore wealth with US$2.3 trillion, followed by Hong Kong with US$1.1 trillion and Singapore with US$0.9 trillion.

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The two Asian centres have grown at yearly rates of 11 and 10 per cent respectively over the past five years, more than three times the 3 per cent rate Switzerland has posted.

"Over the next five years, offshore wealth seems likely to continue growing at a (compound annual growth rate) of roughly 5 per cent per year," it added.

It is in the fast-growing markets that large wealth managers including Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are casting wider nets.

The Swiss banking secrecy from which they long profited has been weakened, meaning rich people from around the world can no longer easily use the Alpine Republic to stash wealth away from tax authorities at home.

The changes have put Switzerland in fierce competition with faster-growing centres like Hong Kong and Singapore.

REUTERS

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