Bloomberg News

China Has Youngest Rich in Eight Asian Economies, HSBC Says

September 20, 2011

(Updates with billionaires in the ninth paragraph.)

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Wealthy people in China are the youngest among eight Asian economies and their numbers are poised to surpass counterparts in the region’s developed markets, according to HSBC Holdings Plc.

The average age of people in China with liquid assets of at least 500,000 yuan ($78,000) is 36, compared with 48 in Hong Kong and 38 in Indonesia, according to an HSBC report released today that also covered Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

“They’re all in their 30s -- the wealth accumulation phase,” Bruno Lee, HSBC’s Asia-Pacific head of wealth management, said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday. “You will not be surprised to see this group of people becoming bigger and bigger. At some point, it’s possible that the number will surpass that in the mature markets.”

HSBC, Citigroup Inc. and Standard Chartered Plc are among global banks expanding in Asia, where economic growth and wealth creation are outpacing the U.S. and Europe. Signs of a global slowdown fueled by Europe’s sovereign debt crisis are likely to prompt Asia’s wealthy to invest more locally, Lee said.

“The euro debt crisis and the global financial crisis have increased risk aversion among the investors,” he said. “They prefer to invest in places closer to their home base.”

Looking to China

More than a quarter of affluent Asians plan to invest in greater China and Southeast Asian funds and equities in the next six months, according to the report.

Asian stocks fell today after Italy’s credit rating was lowered at Standard & Poor’s, fueling concern Europe’s debt crisis will worsen. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 1.1 percent at 3:46 p.m. in Tokyo, extending losses to 16 percent since the end of July.

So-called mass affluent clients in Hong Kong have at least HK$1 million ($128,000) of liquid assets each, while those in Singapore have a minimum of S$200,000 ($158,000), the HSBC report said.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, said today it plans to increase its private banking headcount in China.

The country’s billionaires rose to a record 146, Forbes said this month in its 2011 China rich list. Among the billionaires who are under 40 is Yang Huiyan, the controlling shareholder of property developer Country Garden Holdings Co.

Millionaires from the country may account for about half of the rich people across 10 major economies in Asia by 2015, according to a study by Julius Baer Group and CLSA Asia Pacific Markets released last month.

"Over the next five, 10 years, the growth in high net worth will be structurally a much stronger story in Asia compared to other parts of the world," Amar Gill, head of special projects research at CLSA said today at a conference in Hong Kong.

--With assistance from Sanat Vallikappen in Singapore. Editors: Russell Ward, James Gunsalus

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Tong in Hong Kong at stong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net


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