3.6% rise in HNWIs lowest in seven years says Merrill Lynch-Cap Gemini Ernst & Young

There were an estimated 2 million high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in the United States at the end of 2002, down 100,000 people compared to the previous year, according to the World Wealth Report 2003, published in June by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch.

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  June 12, 2003

There were an estimated 2 million high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in the United States at the end of 2002, down a net 100,000 people compared to the previous year, according to the World Wealth Report 2003, published in June by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch.

North America was the only region to record a drop in the numbers and wealth of HNWIs, or people with financial assets of at least U.S. $1 million, excluding home real estate.

“In North America, HNWI wealth declined 2.1%, or $200 billion, to $7.4 trillion over 2002,” said James Gorman, president of Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client group. "There also was a 1.9% decline in the number of HNWIs in North America, down to 2.22 million individuals.”

Whereas according to Gorman, “The global wealth of HNWIs grew 3.6% to $27.2 trillion last year.”

“Just under 200,000 people around the world joined the ranks of HNWIs last year, up 2.1% to 7.3 million people in 2002. This was the lowest growth rate in the seven-year history of the World Wealth Report,” he noted. “The number of ultra-HNWIs rose 2% to 58,000 people, and their combined wealth grew an estimated 3.6%,” added Gorman. Ultra-HNWIs have financial assets of more than U.S. $30 million.

European HNWIs performed better, with their wealth up 4.8%, or $400 billion, to $8.8trillion (8.4 trillion euros) in 2002. The number of HNWIs in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe rose 3.9%, to 2.6 million individuals.

In the Middle East, the number of millionaires grew by 2.1% and the total financial wealth owned by the Middle Eastern millionaires grew 4.6% to $1.1 trillion in 2002. In the United Arab Emirates it is estimated that one out of every 67 people in the UAE is a millionaire..

Latin America’s HNWI financial assets increased 2.7%, or $100 billion, to $3.6 trillion in 2002. The number of HNWIs in Latin America dropped 3.6%, or a net 10,000 people, to 270,000 individuals.

“The World Wealth Report expects HNWI financial wealth to rise slowly during the next couple of years, and then increase to reach $38 trillion in 2007, an annual growth rate averaging 7%,” said Alvi Abuaf, vice president at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

HNWI Growth by Region
Region Assets/wealth No. of people
Asia 10.7% 4.9%
Middle East 4.6% 4.7%
Europe 4.0% 3.9%
Latin America 2.7% -3.6%
North America -2.1% -1.9%

Source: Merrill Lynch, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young 2003 World Wealth Report

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