hong kong’s millionaire population falls 14 per cent  in first half as coronavirus- battered economy drives exodus

The number of millionaires in Hong Kong declined in the first half of the year, dragging the city out of the top 10 among the world’s wealthiest places, according to a study by London-based migration consultancy Henley & Partners.

Hong Kong slipped four places to 12th after the number of high net-worth individuals (HNWIs), or those with investible assets of at least US$1 million, fell by 14 per cent to 125,100.

It was the biggest faller in the list. Singapore, its rival financial hub in Asia, is ranked fifth with 249,800 millionaires, an increase of 1 per cent from the start of the year.

New York topped the league, while Tokyo took second place. London, in fourth, is the highest ranking city from Europe.

Mainland China’s biggest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, placed ninth and 10th, respectively.

The report cited data from South Africa-based New World Wealth, which Henley described as the “only independent wealth research firm systematically tracking global private wealth migration trends between countries and between cities.”

“A decade ago, Hong Kong was Asia-Pacific’s second-wealthiest city after Tokyo, but it has since been overtaken by Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, and Sydney,” said Andrew Amoils, the head of research at New World Wealth.

“Notwithstanding this, many of Asia’s wealthiest businesspeople still base themselves in the special administrative region, and the Hong Kong stock market remains one of the world’s most important exchanges.”

A previous report by Henley estimated that this year 3,000 millionaires would leave Hong Kong – about 2 per cent of all HNWIs currently living in the city.

The city has seen an exodus of people and international businesses in the last couple of years as some of the toughest coronavirus containment measures on the planet sent tens of thousands heading overseas.

But the rot actually began to set in before the pandemic. Several thousand wealthy Hongkongers sought residency elsewhere during 2019’s social unrest, Henley’s data shows.

Globally, the trend of wealthy individuals leaving their place of domicile was triggered by “recent turmoil” that led investors to relocate their families for reasons such as safety, education and healthcare, the report said.

“It is more a case of a slow-down in growth for Hong Kong when it comes to HNWI inflows and outflows, with other cities on the rise,” Amoils said. “In general, high-net-worth-individual migration figures are an excellent barometer for the health of an economy. Affluent individuals are extremely mobile, and their movements can provide an early warning signal into future country trends.”

Meanwhile, China’s technology hub, Shenzhen, is on the rise in terms of its wealthy population. It is likely to break into the top 20 by 2030, up from its current rank of 30th in the list, Amoils said.

With its current millionaire population of 43,600, the southern Chinese city’s fortunes are likely to be boosted by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the seventh-largest bourse in the world by market cap, as it hosts Chinese tech giants such as Huawei, Tencent and ZTE. Other cities that are tipped to make the top 20 are Dubai and Mumbai, which are currently ranked 23rd and 25th in the world, respectively.

The USA has the most cities in Henley’s top 10. New York has the most millionaires at 345,600, followed by San Francisco, in third, with 276,400 HNWIs. Los Angeles, Malibu, Chicago and Houston also figured in the top 10.

“Cities in the US states of Texas and Florida also performed well, with American companies increasingly moving their head offices to these states,” Amoils said.

Keyword: Hong Kong’s millionaire population falls 14 per cent in first half as coronavirus- battered economy drives exodus

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