Practical analysis for investment professionals
22 June 2012

2012 World Wealth Report: Passion Investments Gain in Popularity

When the 2012 “World Wealth Report” from Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management was released on Tuesday, the growth of Asian millionaires led the news because it was the first time that Asia-Pacific had more millionaires than North America. But behind the headlines were a few more interesting bits of data for private wealth managers.

According to the report, so-called “investments of passion,” including art, jewelry, and memorabilia, attracted interest as substitute investments in 2011, especially among the emerging-market crowd. So if you don’t know the difference between, say, a Monet and Manet, or hadn’t heard that Joan Miro’s 1927 work Peinture (Etoile Bleue) sold for a record US$36.9 million at a London auction this week, it may be time to brush up on some of the finer things in life — including art history — so you can keep up with your clients’ interests.

The report noted that while these investments do not count toward its calculations of HNWI investable wealth, many wealthy people choose to spend a lot of money on them. “While these investments are not strictly an alternative to financial assets, the global economic and financial crisis has certainly led many HNWIs to view these holdings as an important component of their overall investment strategy,” the authors said. (For more on this topic, see the recent report “Profit or Pleasure? Exploring the Motivations Behind Treasure Trends” from Barclays Wealth and Investment Management and “Keeping a Cool Head About a Passion Investment” in the New York Times. Also, US Trust has a video clip on art as a source of liquidity.)

Wealthy young investors from emerging markets were “an especially powerful force” behind many of the classes of passion investments, according to the “World Wealth Report.” The authors also noted that in early 2012, the European Fine Art Foundation reported that China (including Hong Kong) had overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest market for art and antiques.

In case you missed the report, here are some of the key take-aways:

  • Asia-Pacific is now home to slightly more HNWIs than any other region, topping the list for the first time. In 2011, the region boasted 3.37 million HNWIs compared with 3.35 million in North America and 3.17 million in Europe.
  • Even though Asia-Pacific had the most HNWIs, North America still had the lion’s share of investable wealth in 2011 with US$11.4 trillion, down 2.3% from 2010. Asia-Pacific was not too far behind with $10.7 trillion, down 1.1%. Wealth was also down in Europe, where investable wealth totaled $10.1 trillion, also a slip of 1.1%. In Latin America, HNWI wealth fell 2.9%, but the HNWI population increased by 5.4%.
  • Wealthy individuals in Hong Kong and India were the hardest hit by economic woes in 2011: both lost HNWIs in 2011. In Hong Kong, where HNWIs traditionally have high equity exposure, the drop in the stock market helped reduce the HNWI population by 17.4%. Similarly, India’s HNWI population shrunk by 18%, edging it out of the Top 12 countries with the largest HNWI populations (India was replaced by South Korea).
  • The United States, Japan, and Germany together accounted for 53% of the world’s HNWIs in 2011, up slightly from 2010.
About the Author(s)
Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster was a content director on the professional learning team at CFA Institute and host of the Take 15 Podcast. She is the former managing editor of Enterprising Investor and co-lead of CFA Institute’s Women in Investment Management initiative. Lauren spent nearly a decade on staff at the Financial Times as a reporter and editor based in the New York bureau, followed by freelance writing for Barron’s and the FT. Lauren holds a BA in political science from the University of Cape Town, and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.

9 thoughts on “2012 World Wealth Report: Passion Investments Gain in Popularity”


    India would bounce back soon.

  2. Hitesh Majithia says:

    Good update on these statistics.

    These reports have always been coming out periodically and are very useful, but most of the time the source of information & methodoloy is not explained. Also if we can get countrywise ranking of highest number of HNIs, that would be great help.

  3. Hitesh Majithia says:

    Finally, could register and download the full report. Interesting read. Answered many of my questions in previous post. Thanks.

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