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Last Year: Return of the Millionaires

This article was written by in Wealth and Affluence. 7 comments.

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.

Photo: mediafury

Published or updated June 22, 2011.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 rewards

“In other words, it’s more likely you’ll die in a pedestrian accident than be a member of this club.”

It’s worse than that, since I’d argue that you can more easily change the probability that you’ll die in a pedestrian accident (alcohol) than you can change the probability that you’ll become a millionaire (successful bank heist).

On a related note, does it really matter? With all this talk of absolute dollars, is there a good study examining quality of life? Is it actually going up with the invention of flat screen TVs, farmers markets, generic 2nd generation anti-histimines, etc.?

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avatar 2 Luke Landes

I can’t speak to anti-histamines, but I like my flat-screen TV. Had they never been invented, I’d feel just as satisfied with my life, but I like a good immersive entertainment experience.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

‘rewards’ rewarded us with this: “With all this talk of absolute dollars, is there a good study examining quality of life?” This is a great question and very important food-for-thought. I’m retired, enjoying every minute of it, and I’m NOT a millionaire. My financial state is ideal in that my fixed income exceeds my recurring expenses and my total income (fixed income + investment income) exceeds both recurring and non-recurring (cruises to Hawaii/Alaska) expenses. My investment strategy in conservative in that its focus is on income, preserving capital, and seeking moderate growth. Absolute dollar amounts really don’t matter – Thanks ‘rewards’, you got it right!

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avatar 4 Ceecee

You always hear lately that the upper and lower income brackets are growing and the middle is shrinking. High end businesses and dollar stores are thriving. It’s a little scary. A large middle class usually means stability in a region.

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avatar 5 qixx

Then we should focus on getting moving the lower bracket into the middle class to increase stability. Fair assessment?

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avatar 6 Bobka

The average person can still accumulate enough assets to eventually become a millionaire but it requires an early start to saving, reinvestment of dividends and interest, and frugal living. A college education and employment in a professional field can help speed the process along, but is not absolutely essential.

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avatar 7 skylog

i don’t know, i think i expected the number to be higher. it would be interesting to see the breakdown of the millionaires.

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