What stands out from the latest version of the World Wealth Report from Merrill Lynch and Capgemini? According to one of its authors, Jaime Punishill of Capgemini, it’s the “seemingly unending march of wealth creation” around the globe.
The ninth annual survey reports a 7.3% increase in millionaires worldwide last year–to 8.3 million–and that the number of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) and overall wealth grew faster in North America than in Europe for the first time since 2001. As for asset allocation, in 2004 the HNWI focused on diversifying their holdings, pulling back from real estate and investing more overseas and in private equity and hedge funds.
One finding of the report might be of particular interest to advisors. Punishill writes of a certain segment of the HNW market that is underserved–what he calls “mid-tier millionaires,” those with between $5 million and $30 million in financial wealth. Their main problem, Punishill says, is “managing their managers.” They have multiple advisors, and know they need to work with specialists, but their assets are too low to merit formation of true family offices. These people would seem to benefit most from the services of independent advisors, but Punishill says the “million-dollar question” is who will “get the answer first” to serving these clients effectively and efficiently–the wirehouses or “companies like Fidelity or Commonwealth or Bear Stearns.”