Last updated: 11:21 / Friday, 24 June 2016
Boston Consulting Group

Switzerland Remained the Largest Destination for Offshore Wealth in 2015

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Switzerland Remained the Largest Destination for Offshore Wealth in 2015
  • Global private financial wealth grew by 5.2% in 2015, when a year earlier it rose by more than 7%
  • Private wealth booked in offshore centers grew by a modest 3%
  • North America, Western Europe, and Japan declined by more than 3% in 2015: Hong Kong and Singapore saw the strongest growth and Switzerland remained the largest destination
  • The overall wealth accumulation of female investors and millennials is rising steadily

Global private wealthgrew sluggishly in 2015, with some markets seeing significant slowdowns, leaving wealth managers searching for innovative ways to meet the shifting needs of diverse client segments, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, Global Wealth 2016: Navigating the New client Landscape was released recently.

A Slowdown in Growth

Global private financial wealth grew by 5.2% in 2015 to a total of $168 trillion, according to the report. The rise was less than a year earlier, when global wealth rose by more than 7%. All regions except Japan experienced slower growth than in 2014.

Unlike in recent years, the bulk of global wealth growth in 2015 was driven by the creation of new wealth (such as rising household income) rather than by the performance of existing assets, as many equity and bond markets stayed flat or even fell. Assuming that equity markets regain momentum, private wealth globally is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 6% over the next five years to reach $224 trillion in 2020. The number of global millionaire households grew by 6% in 2015, with several countries, particularly China and India, seeing large increases.

Offshore Wealth Management

The report says that private wealth booked in offshore centers grew by a modest 3% in 2015 to almost $10 trillion. A key factor was the repatriation of offshore assets by investors in developed markets. Offshore wealth held by investors in North America, Western Europe, and Japan declined by more than 3% in 2015. The annual growth of offshore wealth globally is expected to pick up through 2020, although at a lower rate than onshore wealth (5% versus 6%).

Among offshore centers, Hong Kong and Singapore saw the strongest growth (around 10%) in 2015. Offshore wealth booked in these domiciles is projected to grow at roughly 10% annually through 2020, increasing their combined share of the world’s offshore assets from roughly 18% in 2015 to 23% in 2020. Switzerland remained the largest destination for offshore wealth in 2015, holding nearly one-quarter of all offshore assets globally.

According to a global BCG benchmarking survey, an annual feature of the report, average revenue and profit margins declined for wealth managers from 2012 to 2015. This development underlines the need for wealth managers to seize the opportunities stemming from three major trends that have altered—and will continue to alter—the industry: tightening regulation, accelerating digital innovation, and shifting needs in traditional client segments.

Nontraditional Client Segments

The report says that two nontraditional client groups whose investment needs and size (population-wise) merit special attention are female investors—whose success as corporate executives and entrepreneurs (in addition to being the beneficiaries of inheritances and legal settlements) have raised their wealth levels significantly—and millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000), whose overall wealth accumulation is rising steadily. In 2015, women held an estimated 30% of global private wealth, with the share slightly higher in developed markets than in emerging ones. Yet just 2% of wealth managers surveyed by BCG said they considered women a specific client segment—fully investigating their investment needs and how they wish to be served—and had adjusted their service models accordingly. Similarly, 50% of wealth managers surveyed said they did not possess a clear view on how to address millennials in terms of service model, products, and overall approach.

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