‘Poorer’ Swiss still top wealth-per-capita ranking

A passer-by in Zurich in 2009 Keystone

Each Swiss adult has an average fortune of $561,900 (CHF568,000), according to the 2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, published on Tuesday. Switzerland has held first position for average wealth per adult since the turn of the century.

This content was published on November 22, 2016

Switzerland continues to top the Credit Suisse global wealth list – their seventh annual reportExternal link – for wealth per adult, followed by Australia ($376,000), the United States ($345,000) and Norway ($312,000).

Despite retaining first place, Switzerland actually experienced a drop in wealth per adult over the past year: down $27,000 to $562,000. There were 716,000 millionaires in Switzerland in 2016, compared with 774,000 in 2015 and an estimated 2,000 ultra-high net worth individuals worth over $50 million, behind the United States, China, Britain and Germany.

Since the turn of the century, Switzerland has led international tables in terms of average wealth. Every year since 2012, wealth per adult has exceeded $500,000 dollars, a threshold not achieved by any other country, the Credit Suisse Research Institute said.

From 2001 onward, it has also ranked top in terms of median wealth per adult – currently $244,000.

According to the survey, the Swiss are 11 times wealthier than the average world citizen. Almost two-thirds of Swiss adults have assets above $100,000.

Swiss franc

The report’s authors said most of the rise in wealth per adult in Switzerland was due to appreciation of the Swiss franc against the US dollar from 2001 to 2013. Measured in Swiss francs, household wealth rose 44% from 2000 to 2016, an average annual rate of 2.3%.

Financial assets make up 55% of gross wealth in Switzerland – higher than the share in Britain, but less than in Japan or the United States.

Debts average $143,400 per adult, one of the highest absolute levels in the world, and represent 20% of total assets. This high domestic debt level is almost all mortgage debt and due to a quirk in the Swiss tax system that punishes homeowners who pay off their mortgage.

Global wealth

The findings from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s seventh annual global wealth report that found the overall growth in global wealth remained flat in 2016, following a trend that emerged in 2013 and contrasting sharply with the double-digit growth rates witnessed before the global financial crisis of 2008.

The report found that total global wealth in 2016 rose 1.4%, or $3.5 trillion, to $256 trillion in line with the increase in the world’s adult population. Accordingly, average wealth per adult of $52,800 remains in line with last year’s figures.

The number of millionaires globally rose by 155%, while the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals has risen by 216%, making them by far the fastest-growing group of wealth holders.

More than 90% of the wealthiest people in the world live in developed nations, mostly the US, but the rise of millionaires and ultra-high-net-worth individuals in China meant there was a shift to emerging economies in recent years.

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