Report: The Rich Got Richer In '06

Jun 28 2007 | 9:56am ET

Thanks to a strong global economy, the wealth of the world's high-net-worth individuals increased 11.4% to $37.2 trillion in 2006, according to a report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.

The number of worldwide high net worths (HNWs) increased 8.3% last year to 9.5 million and the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals grew by 11.3% to 94,970.

The largest growth of the well-heeled population occurred in Singapore and India, where the increases over 2005 were 21.2% and 20.5%, respectively.

“This year's report found that the number of wealthy people, and the amount of wealth that they control, continued to increase in 2006, with extraordinary wealth creation in Singapore and India," said Robert McCann, president of Merrill Lynch's global private client group. "The level of wealth creation around the world provides a tremendous opportunity for wealth management firms, and success will go to the firms that offer a service model that meets the ever-changing needs of today's sophisticated clients."

Last year, HNWs shifted more money into real estate investments, at times liquidating some of their alternative investments to fund these real estate opportunities. Global direct real estate transaction volumes reached $682 billion in 2006, up 38% from 2005. While alternative investments remained a key component of HNWs’ portfolios, overall HNWs’ allocations to those investments dipped in 2006.

The report also suggests that economic growth will slow in 2007 as mature economies grow more moderately.

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