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Downturn? What downturn? Number of wealthy Irish grew last year

Survey of global wealth also shows that more wealthy people prefer safe assets like cash.

Image: Rebecca Naden/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE LATEST World Wealth Report shows we’re not all in the financial doldrums in Ireland – the country had 19,000 “High Net Worth Individuals” in 2010 – up 5 per cent on 2009.

High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) are defined by the report as people with $1m (€700,000) of investible assets.

The report by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini said that wealth in Ireland was driven by national savings and exports, both of which rose in 2010.

Cash, please

According to the survey, more wealthy people around the world prefer to hold on to low-yielding and safe assets like cash because they do not have much confidence in the stability of the financial markets. Less than half say they have faith in industry watchdogs and over a third say they actively distrust them.

The report says that wealthy people are also worried about the next generation’s ability to manage their inheritance and that their income will not be able to keep up with rising inflation.

Global results

The US remains the single largest HNW segment overall, with over a quarter of all high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the world living there. However, the Asia-Pacific region showed the most HNWI population growth last year and now has a higher HNWI population than Europe.

Globally, the wealth of HNWIs rose almost 10 per cent to his $42.7 trillion last year.

The Ultra-HNWIs group (people with investible assets of $30m/€21m) grew even more. Its population was up 10.2 per cent last year and its wealth, by 11.5 per cent – meaning that they account for 36.1 per cent of overall global HNWI wealth (up slightly from 35.5 per cent in 2009).

The wealth report covered 71 countries which account for over 98 per cent of global gross national income and 99 per cent of world stock market capitalisation, according to its researchers.

Read: Ireland faces €200m hit if Greek economy crumbles >

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