Rise in high net worth individuals


Ireland's high net worth population rose by over 10 per cent in 2009, with an additional 1,800 Irish people becoming high net worth individuals (HNWIs).

However, while the number of very wealthy people may be on the rise, overall wealth values are still back at 2005 levels, according to the 14th annual World Wealth Report, published by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini.

In 2009, there were 18,100 HNWIs in Ireland, defined as having investable assets of $1 million or more, bringing the total up from 16,300in 2008. Also in 2009, a further 18 Irish “ultra-HNWIs”, defined as having investable assets of $30 million or more,were created, bringing the total up to 181.

However, the dependence of Ireland’s wealthy on property is restraining the recovery, as the global average of HNWIs grew by 17 per cent last year, returning to levels last seen in 2007, while the UK recorded an increase of 24 per cent in 2009, and the European average was 13 per cent, with Ireland’s 10.7 per cent increase lagging behind.

Total global wealth values rose by 18.9 per cent to $39 trillion, just slightly off the $40.7 trillion recorded in 2007, boosted by growth amongst HNWIs in the Asia-Pacific region.

A major trend identified in the report was investors increasingly favouring investments outside their home market, which was also evident amongst Irish HNWIs moving away from Irish property and equities.

The report also identified investors increasing their allocation to fixed income products such as bonds, up to 32 per cent from about 21 per cent in 2006/2007, with a similar allocation switch noted from Irish investors.