Singaporeans growing wealthier, says Credit Suisse report

Pauline Wong

SINGAPORE (Oct 22): Singapore’s total household wealth grew by 4% to US$1.4 trillion ($1.9 trillion) in the 12 months up to mid-2019, a new report has revealed.

In the 10th edition of the Global Wealth Report, the Credit Suisse Research Institute found that, overall, wealth per Singaporean adult has risen 5.3% per annum to over US$297,870 since 2000.

This is more than double the average growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region, and surpasses the 4.5% average growth rate of world wealth per adult.

Furthermore, wealth per adult in Singapore has increased more than 160% since 2000.

This is mostly due to high savings, asset price increases, and a rising exchange rate from 2000 to 2019. Financial assets now make up 57% of gross household wealth in Singapore.

This ranks Singapore as the 11th wealthiest in the world in terms of total household wealth.

Net worth, or “wealth,” is defined as the value of financial assets plus real assets – principally housing – owned by households, minus their debts. This corresponds to the balance sheet that a household might draw up, listing the items which are owned, and their net value if sold.

Meanwhile, in terms of wealth per adult, Switzerland remains at the top with US$564,650 in mid-2019, followed by Hong Kong at US$489,260.

Singapore, with wealth per adult at US$297,870, ranks sixth globally.

In terms of wealth inequality, the report found that Singapore is “not extreme” when compared to other countries in the region.

Singapore has a wealth Gini coefficient of 76%, and just 14% of its people have wealth below US$10,000, compared with 58% globally.

However, the number of individuals with wealth above US$100,000 is almost five times the world average.

Globally, the report shows that inequality is still an issue, with the top 1% of the world population owning 45.0% of global net assets.

Further, just 47 million individuals worldwide have wealth of more than US$1 million, holding a total of US$158.3 trillion among them.

In contrast, the bottom 56.6% of the global population, or 2.88 billion individuals worldwide, have wealth of less than US$10,000. Their combined wealth amounts to just US$6.3 trillion, or 1.8% of the world’s wealth.

However, the Credit Suisse report notes that the wealth inequality gap has narrowed marginally compared to 2000, when the top 1% owned 46.9% of global net assets. 

This is reinforced by the observation that the share of wealth among the bottom 90% of the world population has risen from 11.5% in 2000 to 18.3% in 2019. 

Other key findings of the report include that wealth among women have risen globally due to increasing labour force participation, with a more equal division of wealth between spouses.

In addition, the report notes that inheritance from parents and parental financial assistance may continue to help millennials accumulate wealth, although the expected surge in inherited wealth has consequences for wealth distribution and wealth inequality for developed countries and emerging economies.