According to the latest World Wealth Report, a study designed by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, last year was a good year for high net-worth individuals (HNWIs), people with more than $1 million in investable assets. After a few years of lagging due to the global recession, the number of millionaires worldwide has climbed past the former peak. There were an estimated 10.9 million millionaires globally in 2010, an 8.3% increase over the number of millionaires in 2009. The year with the next highest tally was 2007, with 10.1 million.
The total wealth of these millionaires also exceeded its 2007 peak. The 10.9 million high net-worth individuals amassed a total net worth of $42.7 trillion, an increase of 9.7% over 2009.
The United States Census Bureau estimates the global total population to be 7 billion, so having $1 million in investable assets places an individual among the top 0.15%. In other words, it’s more likely you’ll die in a pedestrian accident than be a member of this club.
This year’s World Wealth Report also looks at what these millionaires consider important when managing their wealth. 97% consider capital preservation important; particularly after a global crises, millionaires don’t want to lose their wealth. 93% want fees to be transparent, so they fully understand the cost of the investment services provided by their wealth manager. Other top priorities include effective portfolio management, specialized advice, global asset allocation, and independent financial advice.
For the first time, the Asia-Pacific region has overtaken Europe as the second most-represented area on the millionaire list behind the United States.
Despite all the hype about having $1 million in investable assets, being a millionaire isn’t all that impressive these days. When the term was first used in English in 1816 by Lord Byron (according to Wikipedia), $1 million had much more buying power than it has today. Having this level of net worth put you inside a much more exclusive group than today’s fellowship numbering 10.9 million.