Japan's rich have the most cash in Asia, but China is closing in

Bloomberg, Staff Report

Japan’s richest have the largest accumulation of wealth in the Asia-Pacific region, at $7.7 trillion, but the legions of Chinese millionaires are rushing to catch up.

The pool of wealth held by China’s high net worth individuals grew by more than 144 percent between 2010 and 2017, to reach $6.5 trillion, according to the latest Asia-Pacific Wealth Report from consultants Capgemini. The equivalent rate of growth in Japan over the same period was about 87 percent.

The firm defines high net worth individuals as those with investable assets of more than $1 million.

More recently, India’s millionaires have been picking up the pace. Wealth held by India’s superrich rose close to 22 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, the fastest growth in the region over that period, Capgemini said Wednesday.

Other important Asian wealth markets also saw rapid growth last year.

Indonesia showed a massive increase in total wealth held by high net worth individuals, to $661 billion from $184 billion in 2016, but Capgemini attributed the jump to the impact of the country’s 2016-17 tax amnesty and better availability of information.

South Korea’s wealthy saw their fortunes grow by a combined 18 percent, the second-highest growth in the region.

Hong Kong had the third-highest growth, at 16.3 percent, mainly thanks to a booming real estate market.

Singapore came in sixth position, below Thailand and Taiwan, with 13 percent growth in assets held by high net worth individuals.

And the rapid upward trajectory is expected to continue. After doubling between 2010 and 2017 to hit $21.6 trillion, the total pool of wealth held by high net worth individuals in Asia is expected to nearly double again to $42 trillion by 2025, Capgemini said.

Last year, wealth in Asia-Pacific contributed 41.4 percent of all new high net worth individuals’ wealth globally, the consultancy said.

Despite challenges such as the trade war with the U.S., China’s wealth generation continued this year, according to William Sullivan, Capgemini’s global head of market intelligence. “It’s an exciting time for Asia,” he added.

The richest people in China already surpass those in Japan in Forbes magazine’s annual billionaires list published earlier this year. Two Chinese billionaires rose to the ranks of the 20 richest people in the world: Ma Huateng, CEO of Chinese internet giant Tencent, who is the richest person in Asia and No. 17 in the world, and Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.

The highest-ranked Japanese was SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son at No. 39. Tadashi Yanai, president of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing Co., was ranked No. 55.