Wealthiest individuals’ wealth rebounds

The world’s wealthiest individuals in 2009 recovered much of the wealth they lost in 2008, and their charitable giving grew in all regions except North America, a new report says.

But with philanthropy on the rise following a year in which it plunged, the financial crisis “has clearly reduced the outright level of donations,” says the 14th annual World Wealth Report, released by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and by Capgemini.

The report also finds an increase in demand for philanthropic-related services offered by wealth-management firms.

As demand from high-net-worth individuals continues to grow, the report says, wealth-management firms and advisers “will need to understand a wide array of issues related to philanthropy in order to provide relevant solutions.”

The world’s population of wealthy people grew 17.1 percent to 10 million in 2009, returning to levels last seen in 2007, with wealth growing 18.9 percent to $39 trillion for high-net-worth individuals, and 21.5 percent for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, the report says.

“The rebound has been, and will continue to be, driven by emerging markets – especially India and China, as well as Brazil,” Bertrand Lavayssière, managing director of global financial services for Capgemini, says in a statement.

High-net-worth individuals are those with $1 million in investible assets, while ultra-high-net-worth individuals are those with $30 million in investible assets, in both cases excluding the primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables.

While the recovery among them generally was stronger in developing nations, most of the population and wealth of high-net-worth individuals remained highly concentrated in the U.S., Japan and German, which together accounted for 53.5 percent of the world’s population of high-net-worth individuals in 2009, down from 54 percent in 2008.

North America remains home to the biggest population of high-net-worth individuals, 3.1 million people who account for 31 percent of the global high-net-worth population.

For the first time ever, the population of three million high-net-worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific region was as large as that of Europe.

The wealth of high-net-worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific region grew 30.9 percent to $9.7 trillion, compared to $9.5 trillion in wealth held by their counterparts in Europe.

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