(Photo: Reuters / Kacper Pempel)
You'd think millionaires, specially the Australian moguls, hardly felt the crunch of the ongoing global fiscal crisis? Well, think again. Because apparently, the millionaires from this tiny island country were the ones that experienced the toughest of luck in 2011 as far as their financial worth is concerned, a study published Wednesday revealed.
According to the annual wealth survey by Capgemini SA and RBC Wealth Management, it found that the number of Australians with at least $1 million in investable assets dropped by 6.9 per cent in 2011 to 179,500, the most number of fall across the world's 13-largest pools of millionaires.
Bottomline, Australia had 13,400 fewer millionaires last year compared from a year ago.
The study said the culprit for the drop was were the falling property prices and a weak stock market which saw a number of Australia's affluent eventually adopting a cautious stand in handling and investing their wealth.
"Australian millionaires invest heavily in equities and real estate, which did not perform well last year," Dorus van den Biezenbos, senior manager of Capgemini SA and RBC Wealth Management, said.
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"Australia's stockmarket fell by 17 per cent last year and real estate values fell by 4.8 per cent," he said.
Australian millionaires likewise suspended spending on high ticket items such as art, private jets, luxury cars and sporting clubs, although Capgemini SA and RBC Wealth Management believed this could just be for the moment.
''What we've seen last year is that there has been a focus towards investments that hold their value more,'' Mr van den Biezenbos said. ''We have seen that during the GFC, we have seen it again this year. Things like gold, jewellery, especially diamonds, have increased substantially in price and demand. Investments in sports clubs declined, because they are less beneficial in terms of investment.''
As for the rest of the world, the Asia Pacific region had overtaken the North America with the most number of millionaires last year, at 3.37 million millionaires versus 3.35 million millionaires, respectively, the study revealed. Europe only even had 3.17 million millionaires.
But India and Hong Kong's millionaires declined in number last year because of exposure to equity markets and the sharp stockmarket decline.
"India suffered a slump in its equity market capitalization and its currency in 2011. In Hong Kong stockmarket capitalization also dropped by 16.7 per cent in 2011 after a gain of 17.6 per cent in 2010," the report said.
Around the world, the wealth of millionaires plummeted by 1.7 per cent to $US42 trillion or $A41.4 trillion, touted by the report as the first decline since four years ago when the global financial crisis first struck.
The wealth of ultra-millionaires, or those with investable assets of more than $US30 million, fell by 4.9 per cent since this bunch invested in riskier assets, such as private equity, hedge funds and commercial real estate.
Worldwide, the number of millionaires remained parallel, increasing by only 0.8 per cent to 11 million, the report said, which surveyed a total of 71 countries.
This article is copyrighted by IBTimes.com.au, the business news leader