Where do the other half live?

By 2015, it'll be the Asia Pacific.

The number and wealth of HNWs in Asia Pacific has grown at more than double the rate of the rest of world in the past five years and is expected to become the world’s biggest by 2015, a new study has found.

According to the Capgemini/RBC Wealth Management Asia Pacific Wealth Report 2013, the region’s HNW population and wealth increased by 31 per cent and 27 per cent respectively in the five-year period, dwarfing the rest of the world, where the number of millionaires grew by only 14 per cent and their wealth by 9 per cent. As a result, 45.4 per cent of the world’s HNW wealth growth came from Asia Pacific.

The region’s HNW population – defined as those with investable assets of at least $1m – grew by 9.4 per cent to 3.68 million in 2012, and their wealth increased by 12.2 per cent to $12trn during the same year. North America had the largest HNW population in 2012, with 3.73 million millionaires. However, according to the study, it will be overtaken by Asia Pacific in the near future, where HNW wealth is expected to grow at 9.8 per cent a year to reach $15.9trn by 2015.

Asia Pacific also outpaced the rest of the world when it came to the UHNWs – those with investable assets of at least $30 million. The region’s UHNW population and wealth grew by 15.4 and 17.8 per cent respectively compared to 9.7 and 9.4 per cent in the rest of the world.

Thanks to economic growth

Jean Lassignardie, Capgemini Global Financial Services’ chief sales and marketing officer, said he expected the region’s fast-growing economies to boost the HNW market through 2014.

‘GDP growth of 5.5 per cent, which is more than double the global average, combined with strong equity market performance across the region and strong real estate market performance in some markets, drove robust growth in Asia Pacific’s HNW population and wealth in 2012. This GDP growth rate is projected to drive Asia Pacific’s growth in HNW population and wealth through 2014.’

All countries in Asia Pacific have seen growth in their wealth in 2012, the report also found. But Hong Kong and India have seen the biggest increases, with their HNW population rising by 35.7 per cent and by 22.2 per cent respectively and their wealth jumping by 37.2 per cent and 23.4 per cent respectively.

Japan and Taiwan were the only two markets to report single-digit increases in HNW population, at 4.4 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Perhaps thanks to their wealth’s recent growth, the Global HNW Insights Survey – which is a global qualitative survey Capgemini/RBC conducted together with Scorpio Partnership – found that 80 per cent of HNWs in Asia Pacific excluding Japan said they ‘highly’ trusted their wealth managers and firms, compared to about two-thirds of HNWs in the rest of the world.

The survey also found that Asia-Pacific’s HNWs had different wealth management needs than the rest of the world.

For example, 40.1 per cent of HNWs in Asia Pacific preferred to work with multiple wealth managers from one firm, compared to only 21.7 per cent in other regions. Almost 40 per cent also said it preferred digital rather direct communication with their wealth managers, compared to 21.5 percent in the rest of the world, and 42.3 percent was willing to pay more for tailored services, compared to less than 26 per cent in other regions.

Giulia Cambieri writes for Spear's

This piece first appeared on Spear's Magazine

A duck in the Asia Pacific. Photograph: Getty Images

This is a story from the team at Spears magazine.

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Donald Trump ushers in a new era of kakistocracy: government by the worst people

Trump will lead the whitest, most male cabinet in memory – a bizarre melange of the unqualified and the unhinged.

“What fills me with doubt and dismay is the degradation of the moral tone,” wrote the American poet James Russell Lowell in 1876, in a letter to his fellow poet Joel Benton. “Is it or is it not a result of democracy? Is ours a ‘government of the people by the people for the people’, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”

Is there a better, more apt description of the incoming Trump administration than “kakistocracy”, which translates from the Greek literally as government by the worst people? The new US president, as Barack Obama remarked on the campaign trail, is “uniquely unqualified” to be commander-in-chief. There is no historical analogy for a President Trump. He combines in a single person some of the worst qualities of some of the worst US presidents: the Donald makes Nixon look honest, Clinton look chaste, Bush look smart.

Trump began his tenure as president-elect in November by agreeing to pay out $25m to settle fraud claims brought against the now defunct Trump University by dozens of former students; he began the new year being deposed as part of his lawsuit against a celebrity chef. On 10 January, the Federal Election Commission sent the Trump campaign a 250-page letter outlining a series of potentially illegal campaign contributions. A day later, the head of the non-partisan US Office of Government Ethics slammed Trump’s plan to step back from running his businesses as “meaningless from a conflict-of-interest perspective”.

It cannot be repeated often enough: none of this is normal. There is no precedent for such behaviour, and while kakistocracy may be a term unfamiliar to most of us, this is what it looks like. Forget 1876: be prepared for four years of epic misgovernance and brazen corruption. Despite claiming in his convention speech, “I alone can fix it,” the former reality TV star won’t be governing on his own. He will be in charge of the richest, whitest, most male cabinet in living memory; a bizarre melange of the unqualified and the unhinged.

There has been much discussion about the lack of experience of many of Trump’s appointees (think of the incoming secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who has no background in diplomacy or foreign affairs) and their alleged bigotry (the Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, denied a role as a federal judge in the 1980s following claims of racial discrimination, is on course to be confirmed as attorney general). Yet what should equally worry the average American is that Trump has picked people who, in the words of the historian Meg Jacobs, “are downright hostile to the mission of the agency they are appointed to run”. With their new Republican president’s blessing, they want to roll back support for the poorest, most vulnerable members of society and don’t give a damn how much damage they do in the process.

Take Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general selected to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt describes himself on his LinkedIn page as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” and has claimed that the debate over climate change is “far from settled”.

The former neurosurgeon Ben Carson is Trump’s pick for housing and urban development, a department with a $49bn budget that helps low-income families own homes and pay the rent. Carson has no background in housing policy, is an anti-welfare ideologue and ruled himself out of a cabinet job shortly after the election. “Dr Carson feels he has no government experience,” his spokesman said at the time. “He’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”

The fast-food mogul Andrew Puzder, who was tapped to run the department of labour, doesn’t like . . . well . . . labour. He prefers robots, telling Business Insider in March 2016: “They’re always polite . . . They never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”

The billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos, nominated to run the department of education, did not attend state school and neither did any of her four children. She has never been a teacher, has no background in education and is a champion of school vouchers and privatisation. To quote the education historian Diane Ravitch: “If confirmed, DeVos will be the first education secretary who is actively hostile to public education.”

The former Texas governor Rick Perry, nominated for the role of energy secretary by Trump, promised to abolish the department that he has been asked to run while trying to secure his party’s presidential nomination in 2011. Compare and contrast Perry, who has an undergraduate degree in animal science but failed a chemistry course in college, with his two predecessors under President Obama: Dr Ernest Moniz, the former head of MIT’s physics department, and Dr Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Berkeley. In many ways, Perry, who spent the latter half of 2016 as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, is the ultimate kakistocratic appointment.

“Do Trump’s cabinet picks want to run the government – or dismantle it?” asked a headline in the Chicago Tribune in December. That’s one rather polite way of putting it. Another would be to note, as the Online Etymology Dictionary does, that kakistocracy comes from kakistos, the Greek word for “worst”, which is a superlative of kakos, or “bad”, which “is related to the general Indo-European word for ‘defecate’”.

Mehdi Hasan has rejoined the New Statesman as a contributing editor and will write a fortnightly column on US politics

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era