Can the BRICS keep building wealth?

The ultra-wealthy populations in the BRICS countries have prospered in recent years, increasing in number by almost a third and withstanding the global financial crisis.

As of 2011, there are approximately 1.9 million HNWIs in the BRICS, with a combined wealth of US$7.5 trillion. This equates to 11.3% of total worldwide HNWIs volumes (16.8 million) and 11.4% of total worldwide HNWI wealth (US$66 trillion). The total number of HNWIs in the BRICS increased by 30% over the review period from 1.5 million HNWIs in 2007 to 1.9 million in 2011.

China accounts for the greatest share of the BRICS’ wealthy population. As of 2011, two-thirds of HNWIs coming from the BRICS are Chinese, a ratio expected to increase by 2016. South Africa has by far the smallest share of high net-worths, unsurprising due to its far smaller overall population.


The number of HNWIs in China has also increased at the quickest rate over the review period since 2007, rising by 41%. In India, HNWI volumes increased by 32%; in Brazil, 31%; and 18% in South Africa. During this time, Russia was the only country in the group to experience a decline in the total number of HNWIs (-18%), largely due to a fall in the value of the Russian ruble which negatively impacted on the US dollar wealth of Russian HNWIs.

Over the forecast period (2011-2016) the overall volume of HNWIs in the BRICS is projected to increase by 76%. But the story is not just about China. India will see the strongest growth in the years ahead with the number of HNWIs in the country more than doubling by 2016 (103%). Russia will again be home to the slowest increase in HNWIs amongst the BRICS, but even there the number of millionaires is still expected to increase by over a third.

India is also home to some of the fastest growing cities for ultra-HNWIs. In the period to 2016, 30% of the fastest UHNWIs growth centers will be India, including four of the top five. Brazil made up two of the fastest growing cities over the review period. Otherwise the fastest growing locations for ultra-HNWIs over the review period, and forecast for to 2016, are again dominated by China.

Definitions:

  • For the purposes of this report, the phrase “coverage period” refers to the period of 2007–2016, while the “review period” relates to the years 2007–2011 and the “forecast period” relates to the years 2011–2016.
  • “High net worth individuals” otherwise known as “millionaires” or “HNWIs” refer to individuals with net assets of US$1 million or more excluding their primary residences
  • “Ultra high net worth individuals” or “UHNWIs” are individuals with net assets of US$30 million or more excluding their primary residences
  • Billionaires are those HNWIs with wealth of US$1 billion or more, including equities, bonds, cash and deposits, fixed-income products, real estate (excluding primary residence), alternative assets and business interests.

For more information see WealthInsight’s BRICS Wealth Book 2012.

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