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

ZURICH (Reuters) – Personal financial wealth swelled 12 percent last year to nearly $202 trillion, the strongest growth in five years as bull markets and the dollar’s weakening against most major currencies boosted global fortunes, a study showed on Thursday.

Tourists walk up one of the main shopping areas, Preciados Street, in central Madrid, Spain, June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

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

While residents of North America held the greatest share of personal wealth at almost 43 percent, 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 center for managing offshore wealth with $2.3 trillion, followed by Hong Kong with $1.1 trillion and Singapore with $0.9 trillion.

The two Asian centers have grown at yearly rates of 11 and 10 percent respectively over the past five years, more than three times the 3 percent 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 percent per year,” it added.

It is in the fast-growing markets that large wealth managers including Swiss banks UBS (UBSG.S) and Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) 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 centers like Hong Kong and Singapore.

Reporting by Angelika Gruber, Writing by Michael Shields; Editing by Toby Chopra

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