Contrary to what many people may think, it does not require the enormous cash or assets equivalent of a billion U.S. dollars to be counted on the list of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals. Instead, the designation covers those people who claim a net worth of minimally $50 million. There are approximately 123,838 Ultra High Net Worth Individuals living in the world as of 2015.
Billionaires are a more exclusive club within the UHNW category. As of 2014, the UBS world billionaire survey counted 2,325 billionaires throughout the globe. These individuals possessed a combined total net worth of approximately $7.3 trillion. The billionaires comprised slightly more than 1% of the world’s population, yet controlled 24% of all the UHNWI wealth in total.
The problem with correctly determining an exact number of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals is that data is not equally reliable in all countries and regions of the globe. Some billionaire and even millionaire families are unhelpful and unwilling to divulge their personal financial information to researchers who are investigating the subject.
Tax returns do not completely divulge the picture of who controls what assets because of the labyrinth in various arrangements for wealth ownership. Because of this, the researchers generally focus on net assets like Forbes magazine reports in its global wealth lists. Data on such assets as private collections, real estate, and luxury items like costly yachts and private jets can not always be obtained or often is not accurately assessed. This is true for personal debt as well.
Other measurements of global wealth involve smaller amounts of dollars than the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals composition. To hold a spot on the list of top 10% of international wealth holders, individuals require net assets totaling around $71,000 as of 2012. Around $710,000 proved to be enough dollars to hold a place on the list of the world’s top 1% of wealth owners that same year. This upper 1% group by itself controls approximately 46% of all wealth in the world. This means that around 70 million individuals own nearly half of all the net wealth on earth.
Though the numbers are shifting significantly with the rise of Asia and in particular China, North America still dominates the regions for number of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals. Of the 123,838 UHNW in the world, around half of them, or 61,306, reside in North America. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these live in the United States. The U.S. is home to the largest numbers of UHNWI in the world. Thanks to its long term rapidly expanding economy, China has secured the coveted second spot for countries with around 9,555 such UHNWI living there.
As far as the rest of the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals go, 29,921 of them live in Europe, 15,293 call Asia Pacific their home; 3,999 reside in Latin America; 2,082 live in India; and only 1,051 of them are from Africa. This last statistic is unsurprising as Africa remains by far the poorest region of the world, with most of its countries today still mired in poverty and trapped in sub-standard living conditions.
People who do not make the list for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals may still qualify for another impressive designation referred to by global banks and financial institutions as High Net Worth Individuals. Banks and investment firms typically classify individuals whose net assets exceed $1 million as High Net Worth Individuals.