SINGAPORE leads the world in terms of the proportion of households classed as millionaires after the ranks of the wealthy swelled again last year.
A new study has found that the number of households with investable assets of US$1 million (S$1.26 million) or more rose 14 per cent to 188,000 last year. That means 17.1 per cent of households - or one in six - are millionaires.
The findings come from management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in its Global Wealth Report 2012, which does not include property and other non-financial assets.
In 2010, 165,000 households were classed as millionaires.
The latest jump comes even though the economy grew only 4.9 per cent last year, following a 14.8 per cent surge in 2010.
BCG said the 17.1 per cent figure was the 'highest density' of millionaire households across all the 63 countries it surveyed.
Singapore came in 11th in terms of the absolute number of millionaire households.
That figure was definitely boosted by the appreciation of the Singapore dollar over the past few years, while wealth was generated by the strong growth in the property market, said Mr Warren Lim, chief executive of Finexis Advisory.
He noted that households could have also made money last year if they caught the right timing in the stock market.
Those who bought property in 2005 and 2006 and sold them recently would have seen solid gains, he said.
He added that his financial advisory firm has seen a rise of about 20 per cent in the number of wealthy clients coming to his firm for advice in the past year.
Singapore was slightly lower down the ladder when it came to ultra-high net worth households, which BCG defined as those holding over US$100 million in wealth.
It had 108,000 of these ultra-rich households last year. This is roughly equivalent to 10 out of every 100,000 households, according to BCG.
While Singapore was in 26th position when ranked by absolute numbers, it was still No. 2 in terms of the density of such households.
The Republic was trumped narrowly by Switzerland, where 11 out of every 100,000 households were considered ultra- high net worth last year.
'Overall, global growth in private wealth is clearly being driven by rapidly developing economies in the 'new world', not by the 'old world' of traditional, mature ones,' BCG wrote in its report.
The Asia-Pacific region grew richer at a faster rate than most other regions last year, due more to solid economic growth than to equity market gains.
Private financial wealth in Asia excluding Japan expanded 10.7 per cent last year to about US$23.7 trillion. The region is expected to hold US$40.1 trillion in wealth by 2016.
In contrast, developed economies like the US, Europe and Japan experienced a decline in the amount of wealth held in 2011.
Global wealth reached US$122.8 trillion last year, and BCG predicts it will grow to $151.2 trillion by 2016.