Author: Lawyer Enrico Germano

In finance, a high net worth individual (HNWI-High Net Worth Individual) is a person who has about USD 1 million (at today’s exchange rate about CHF 964,000 or EUR 1 million) in liquid financial assets1. In the field of finance, a person who has a net worth of more than USD 1 million is usually considered rich2.

The VHNWI (very High Net Worth Individual) classification, corresponding to the person with a very high net worth, refers to the person with a net worth of at least USD 5 million, while the UHNWI (Ultra Net Worth Individual) classification corresponds to the person with an ultra-high net worth of more than USD 30 million. Personal assets, real estate, collectibles, paintings and other luxury goods are usually excluded from these figures3.

According to the Capgemini World Wealth report, over 60 per cent of the world’s HNWI population lives in the US, Japan, Germany and China. In 2019, the US had 5.9 million HNWIs4.

Unfortunately, the gaps in society have tended to widen, and the pandemic first and the war in Ukraine later, with the well-known energy and inflationary repercussions only just beginning, have certainly not narrowed them5. In fact, UHNWI are further increasing by more than 20% worldwide. India will see the largest increase in ultra-rich, followed by the Philippines and China, all countries on the Asian continent6.

In fact, the pandemic has made the planet’s billionaires even richer, reaching an estimated USD 10.2 trillion according to Billionaires Insights 20207.

Unsurprisingly, the world’s top country by wealth is and remains the United States (with about USD 119 trillion), followed by China (USD 31 trillion), Japan (USD 18 trillion), the United Kingdom (USD 10 trillion), Germany (USD 9.2 trillion), France (USD 7.9 trillion), Canada (USD 7.5 trillion), Italy (USD 6 trillion), Australia (USD 5 trillion) and Taiwan (USD 4.5 trillion)8. Financial wealth is defined as all liquid financial assets, i.e. deposits, listed shares, life insurance, private pensions, investment funds, fixed income and other minor categories9.

Switzerland, with only 8.7 million inhabitants, ranks 13th with USD 3.3 trillion. Statistical data shows that in 2014 there were about 750,000 individuals in Switzerland with more than USD 1 million in 2018 905,753 and in 2019 932,962. By 2024, more than 1,046,380 HNWI individuals are expected, this means one out of every eight Swiss national on average10.