Singapore to trump Hong Kong in millionaire growth

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(Bloomberg) -- Singapore will outpace Hong Kong in growth in the ranks of millionaires over the next five years, with about one in 30 people qualifying as high net worth by 2020, swelled by Indians and Chinese keen to avoid social unrest, according to WealthInsight.

Millionaires, or high net worth individuals, will increase 18.3 percent in Singapore over the period compared to 15.6 percent in Hong Kong, a WealthInsight report showed.

"Though Hong Kong has a much higher millionaire population than Singapore, 193,000 against 154,000, recent events such as the umbrella revolution may have turned migratory HNWIs away from the city," said Oliver Williams, head of WealthInsight. He was referring to events a year ago when students and riot police clashed for control of Hong Kong's streets in a challenge to Chinese rule.

Singapore's relative stability is underscored by its high net worth individuals having the lowest average wealth in Asia, at $5.2 million, reflecting lower inequality. Indonesia has the highest average wealth, at $6.5 million. Germany's wealthy, for example, have an average wealth of $3.2 million, according to WealthInsight.

Singapore and Hong Kong are vying to become the pre-eminent financial hub in the Asia-Pacific. In Hong Kong, Chinese officials have called for voting out pro-democracy lawmakers and reaffirmed the Communist Party’s authority over the city in a deepening political rift, even as economic ties with the mainland grow stronger, from cross-border stock links to yuan- denominated bond sales to the millions of tourists who crowd local shops and hotels.

"Singapore's burgeoning financial markets, renowned private banking and superior quality of life are continuing to attract HNWIs from neighboring countries,'' Williams said. "We're currently seeing a large influx of Indian and Chinese millionaires into the country.''