China leads the way as billionaires wealth sees record increase in 2017

Leading the way Alibaba chairman Jack Ma at a conference in Yunqi Cloud Town in Hangzhou China

Leading the way Alibaba chairman Jack Ma at a conference in Yunqi Cloud Town in Hangzhou China

The United States, however, retains the greatest amount of billionaire wealth as the wealthiest individuals live there. "But this is just the beginning", said Josef Stadler, head of ultra-high net worth at UBS wealth management.

A new report by Swiss bank UBS found that billionaires increased their wealth by 20 percent - to a combined total of $8.9 trillion. Now in its fifth edition, the report draws on UBS and PWC's extensive client network and access to data, and aims to promote a deeper understanding of the billionaire population globally.

"UBS head of ultra-high-net -worth Ravi Raju said: "(Asia's) remarkable wealth creation presents an vast opportunity for UBS, which now has a relationship with three out of five billionaires in Asia".

This incident, along with the recent show trials and tribulations of Chinese executives, shows that while the country has ramped up its production of new billionaires, the megarich and the bankers who chase them face a far more complex and uncertain future than their Western counterparts.

Billionaires from Asia, especially in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are now challenging the traditional dominance of Americans as technology entrepreneurs. For the first time, billionaire growth in Asia Pacific outpaced that of the United States past year. His wealth is listed at US$1.1 billion, and he is the youngest at 40. They are constantly transforming their companies, developing new business models and shifting rapidly into new sectors'.

There were only 16 Chinese billionaires as recently as 2016, the report said, but now almost one in five billionaires worldwide was Chinese. "This cohort is overwhelmingly self-made and determined to capitalize on one of history's greatest moments for new enterprise".

In the past, "the majority of breakthrough innovations have been driven by companies based in the Americas", John Mathews, UBS' head of ultrahigh net worth for the Americas, said in a statement. This year, however, has seen stock markets decline worldwide over interest rate increases in the US and emerging market volatility, only to be exacerbated by tensions surrounding the US-China trade war.

UBS estimates that the world now has a total of 2,158 billionaires, with 179 billionaires created previous year. The younger billionaires are expected to drive the growth in philanthropy and sustainable investing; 38 per cent of family offices are now engaged in sustainable investing; 45 per cent aim to step this up over the next 12 months.

"Nowhere else in the world can you find better conditions for growth than in China".

Total billionaire wealth in Singapore grew by 9 per cent to reach US$64.5 billion. This was largely due to currency appreciation in the euro versus the dollar.

Wealth transition from just five families accounted for 30 percent of the continent´s wealth expansion, the study said.

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