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Singapore in top 10 in terms of average wealth per adult

WEALTH in Singapore has grown relatively slowly in local currency terms since 2012, but the average wealth per adult here remains high, putting it at ninth spot globally.

In terms of average wealth globally as at mid-2017, the top spot is taken by Switzerland with US$537,600 per adult. This is followed by Australia with US$402,600.

Singapore's household wealth grew 3.4 per cent to US$1.2 trillion in mid-2017, Credit Suisse Research Institute's 2017 Global Wealth Report has found.

The average wealth per adult Singaporean remains at a high level of US$268,800, compared to US$115,560 in 2000. The rise was mostly thanks to high savings, asset price increases and a favourable exchange rate from 2005 to 2012.

In terms of median wealth, Singapore is also ranked ninth at US$108,900.

In addition, the report has found that wealth distribution in Singapore is "only moderately unequal". About 22 per cent of its population have wealth below US$10,000 compared to 70 per cent globally.

The number of millionaires in Singapore rose 2.7 per cent to 152,000, owning total wealth of US$570 billion, an increase of 8 per cent. The number of ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) here - defined as those with assets of at least US$50 million - grew at a faster rate of 15.3 per cent to 981.

By 2022, the number of millionaires here is expected to grow to 170,000, at a rate of 2.3 per cent a year, and UHNWIs are also expected to grow at a similar rate to just over 1000.

Financial assets comprise 56 per cent of household wealth in Singapore, a ratio similar to that in Switzerland. The average debt of US$50,570 is moderate for a high-wealth country, comprising about 16 per cent of total assets.

Wealth in the Asia-Pacific grew 3 per cent to US$89 trillion, putting the region ahead of Europe (US$80 trillion) and behind the US (US$93.6 trillion).

Globally, the number of UHNWs has risen fivefold since 2000, making them the fastest growing wealth segment. Over the same period, the number of millionaires rose 170 per cent.

The composition of millionaires is also changing. In 2000, about 98 per cent of millionaires were in high-income economies. Since then, 23.9 million "new millionaires" have been added, of whom 2.7 million - or 12 per cent of the total additions - were from emerging economies.

The report has found that globally, the bottom of the wealth pyramid has some 3.5 people, or 75 per cent of all adults, who own less than US$10,000. "Those with low wealth tend to be disproportionately found among the younger age groups who have had little chance to accumulate assets, but we find millennials face particularly challenging circumstances compared to other generations," said Urs Rohner, Credit Suisse Group AG chairman in an introductory note to the study. Millennials are defined as those who come of age after 2000.

A number of factors have dealt serious blows to young workers and savers, the report said. These include capital losses in 2008-2009, high unemployment, tighter mortgage rules and growing house prices. "While millennials are more educated than preceding generations . . . we expect only a minority of high achievers and those in high-demand sectors such as technology or finance to effectively overcome the 'millennial disadvantage'."