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Global wealth close to 2007 levels again

WEALTHY individuals have now recouped most of the losses that they sustained during the financial crisis of 2008, according to the World Wealth Report released yesterday by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Cap Gemini.

High net worth individuals (HNWIs) – classified as those with investable assets of $1m (£673,000) or more – climbed back to 10m in 2009. In 2007, 10.1m were classified as HNWIs. In 2008 it fell to 8.6m.

“The last few years have been significant for wealthy investors. While in 2008 global HNWI wealth showed an unprecedented decline, a year later we are already seeing distinct signs of recovery, and in some areas a complete return to 2007 levels of wealth and growth,” said Nick Tucker, UK and Ireland market leader at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Asia-Pacific’s HNWI population rebounded in 2009 to hit 3m, matching that of Europe for the first time. Its wealth also jumped 30.9 per cent to $9.7 trillion, far surpassing the $9.5 trillion held by Europe’s HNWIs.

However, the US, Japan and Germany accounted for 53.5 per cent of the world’s HNWI population last year.

HNWIs favoured predictable returns in 2009, reflected in ther increase in fixed income allocation to 31 per cent from 29 per cent in 2008 and 21 per cent in 2006. Equity holdings also rose slightly to 29 per cent from 25 per cent as investors warily returned to the markets.

The UK‚Äąpopulation of high net worth individuals rose 23.8 per cent in 2009 to 448,000, thanks to a 49.5 per cent rise in UK stock market capitalisation. Tucker said the UK was maintaining its place as a home for wealthy indviduals.