Monday, March 30, 2015

Where Are All The Rich People (Going)?

The Ultra High Networth Individuals (UHNWI) are a very mobile bunch, as this article which uses data from Knight Frank has shown.

While their article uses a map to show you where the rich people ARE, it isn't very useful to show you where they are going, unless you have time series. I happen to have the data from the 2013 study and made it into this:

Well just looking at the rankings it seems like London is the up and coming new city to live in, right? Sorry, but no. That is the problem with ranking data. That is why I hate using Ordinal data when I have the Interval data right in front of me. There is point where simplification because harmful instead of helpful, and me for that is the crossing from Interval to Ordinal.

Anyway, looking at the Interval data instead, which focus on the absolute number of super-rich, we get a less pretty picture.

Imagine that! All the top 10 cities that was in the 2013 list have all LOST their super-rich.

It is fairly easy to explain the fall of NYC, LA and SF. Renunciation.

There comes a fine line between the ethics of moving wealth overseas. Is it tax evasion, or diversification? If you think that nationality / citizenship is something that you are born with and you die with, then you're going to think its tax evasion. If you think that the world is your oyster and you are totally fine going for the best deals, you switch countries like you switch telecomm carrier. There is no law or consensus saying that you have to die where you are born. This is probably the same reason for the drop in Beijing as well. Did political tension drive people out of Hong Kong?

The entrants of the other new cities seem to suggest one thing - moving wealth away from the English-speaking countries. There is no perhaps, it is definitely much easier to hide behind a language barrier. No monsieur, l'argent ne est pas pour vous. 

The rise of Singapore does not strike me as unusual. We are a stable country with EXTREMELY RARE cases protests (please, Little India riot is your evidence of social instability?). We have undeniably low crime, we speak the international language of English on a wide scale and we have very Swiss-esque laws regarding our banking and finance sector. If I am not wrong, as a foreigner, unless you commit a crime in Singapore, your finances cannot be investigated. I could be wrong though.

Anyway, I don't see what's the problem with super uber rich people coming to live in Singapore. I rather live in the country where many people are wealthy, rather than the reverse.


  1. Hi GMGH,

    I am with you on this.

    A friend told me about this study of UHNW individuals (people with more than US$30 million) and the impact on Singapore. I haven't gone around to studying it in more detail.

    But then there's you around. As you have shown, in the past two years, a good proportion (at least 5%) have started flocking to Singapore.

    My view is that there must be something in that person (or his family) for him to have amassed this sum of money. And if he wants to settle in Singapore, good!

    As LKY mentioned before, how can having more smart/rich people supporting stupid/poor people not be good?

    The only problem is envy.

    I have heard some RMs of banks complaining about the foreign talent inflow but they just cant get around to the fact that their jobs probably won't exist if not for the UHNW people.


    1. Hi Mr 15HWW,

      The problem with envy is a tough one.

      I think the solution has to come from realizing that after a certain point, enough is enough. I've been reading a book about that, but I've to finish it. You can imagine how dry it is, haha.


Observe the house rules.