A man cleans a Rolls Royce limousine parked in during the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg)

Asia Still Leads the World When It Comes to Minting Billionaires

(Bloomberg) -- Asia will see the fastest billionaire population growth in the world over the next four years, despite economic uncertainties in the region triggered by the China-U.S. trade war.

The number of Asian billionaires will rise by 27 percent to 1,003 between 2018 and 2023, making up more than a third of the world’s total billionaire population of 2,696, according to a report released Wednesday by Knight Frank LLP. The billionaire population growth rates for North America and Europe are 17 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Asia Still Leads the World When It Comes to Minting Billionaires

Asia will also see the biggest increase in ultra-high net worth individuals (people with net assets of $30 million or more). India leads the world with an expected 39 percent surge, followed by the Philippines and China.

But while the rich may be getting richer, they’re also becoming more cautious. An increasing number of individuals in Asia plan to keep more of their wealth in cash and less in assets exposed to market cycles such as gold or bonds. Property remains a mainstay of their portfolios, the Knight Frank report found: real estate comprises around 23 percent, slightly higher than the global average.

Asia Still Leads the World When It Comes to Minting Billionaires

“We are seeing a re-balancing of portfolios away from equities toward more defensive asset classes,” said Nicholas Holt, Knight Frank Asia Pacific’s head of research. “While cash, gold and private equity are likely to be increasingly targeted, investment-grade property with strong tenant covenants will also see significant interest over the next 12 months.”

Investors in the Philippines were most likely to put more money into real estate, the survey found, while 40 percent of respondents in Australia, in the midst of a property-market downturn, expected allocations to real estate to decrease over the coming 12 months.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.