Toronto, Paris – Strong economic and equity market performance helped create nearly a million (920,000) new millionaires globally in 2014, as high net worth individuals (HNWIs [1]) grew in both number and wealth to 14.6 million and US$56.4 trillion, respectively. This reflects an increase of about 7%, roughly half the growth rate of the previous year, according to the World Wealth Report 2015 (WWR) released today by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management. The report found that while the vast majority of the HNWI population and wealth is relatively evenly distributed between North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, the Asia-Pacific region grew at the fastest rate and is now home to more HNWIs than any other region.

While North America continues to rank first overall for HNWI wealth at US$16.2 trillion vs. Asia-Pacific’s US$15.8 trillion and Europe’s US$13.0 trillion, Asia-Pacific’s wealth growth (11% vs. North America’s 9% and Europe’s 4.6%) is expected to continue. In fact, Asia-Pacific is expected to take top spot for HNWI wealth before the end of 2015.
 
Asia-Pacific also expanded its HNWI population at the fastest rate globally (9%), pushing it past North America as the region with the most HNWIs at 4.69 million. North America’s HNWIs grew to 4.68 million (8% growth) and Europe’s grew to 4.0 million (up 4%).

“2014 was the sixth consecutive year of growth for the high net worth market, with robust equity returns and economic performance enabling wealth to grow by about 7%, following double digit growth the year prior,” said George Lewis, Group Head, RBC Wealth Management & RBC Insurance. “Asia-Pacific led the growth in wealth this year and just edged out North America as the new leader in high net worth population. Looking ahead to the next few years, we expect Europe to be a large driver of HNWI wealth as the region recovers economically.”

From a country-level perspective, China and the U.S. drove more than half (52%) of global HNWI population growth. India led the world in growth for both HNWI population (26%) and wealth (28%) due to strong equity market performance and the reduced cost of its substantial oil imports. China followed, with population and wealth growth rates of 17% and 19%, respectively, driven by GDP growth, increased exports and moderate equity market performance.
 
Strong growth in Asia-Pacific and North America contrasted with negative growth in Latin America – the only region with a decline in HNWI population (-2%) and wealth (-0.5%) in 2014, largely due to falling commodity prices and a resulting decline in equity markets.  In Europe HNWI population and wealth grew by roughly 4% due to weak economic performance and falling equity markets in most countries.