Singapore has added three more billionaires to its tally over the past year or so, while the Asia-Pacific can again claim more uber-rich than anywhere else in the world, according to a report yesterday.

It noted that the region had 831 billionaires – about 38 per cent of the total number globally – accounting for US$3.3 trillion (S$4.49 trillion) in total or an average of about US$4 billion each.

The report from UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) studied more than 2,000 billionaires from 43 markets worldwide.

The annual study would usually have covered the period from March 6 last year to April 7 this year but it was extended to July 31 to take into account the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

It found that Singapore had 25 billionaires as at July 31 – four more since the last survey – but one dropped out during the extended period from April 7.

The report does not name the billionaires.

Total billionaire wealth here grew by 11 per cent from the previous year’s study to reach US$79.1 billion in April, but it surged 30 per cent to US$102.6 billion in those extra four months to the end of July.

This trend is in line with a V-shaped rebound in global stock markets from April to July that propelled global billionaire wealth to a new high of US$10.2 trillion.

Mr Anuj Kagalwala, partner and asset and wealth management tax leader with PwC Singapore, said many billionaires would have had their wealth tied to businesses listed on stock markets.

He also noted that the pandemic has heightened the divide between innovators and disruptors in the technology, healthcare and industrial sectors and others in areas of the economy that are now flagging.

Asia-Pacific billionaires who can be identified as such innovators and disruptors grew their wealth by 23 per cent to US$1.4 trillion over the study period, while traditional billionaires increased their worth by just 13 per cent.

The region also has 181 billionaires in healthcare and technology – the highest share of the global billionaire population in these sectors.

  • 831

    Number of billionaires in the Asia-Pacific region – about 38 per cent of the total number globally.

    68 

    Number of female billionaires in the region, which has more than doubled from 26 in 2013. Over 60 per cent of them are entrepreneurs. 

“It is interesting but not surprising that wealth in the tech and healthcare sectors surged ahead at a faster rate than other sectors,” said Mr Kagalwala.

“In the last decade, the wealth of billionaires in the tech sector grew 5.7 times while the wealth of billionaires in the financial services sector grew 2.3 times.

“Financial services is seen to be a slower adopter of technology and innovation than other sectors.

“Other sectors which have better adapted to technology and innovation such as industrials saw wealth grow 3.8 times during the same period. Technology and innovation seem to be key ingredients for wealth creation.”

He noted that a striking 81 per cent of billionaires in the Asia-Pacific are self-made, indicating a high level of opportunity and growth here.

That figure is 98 per cent in mainland China, which set a new record of 415 billionaires this year despite the pandemic. They hold a combined wealth of US$1.7 trillion.

Besides just growing wealth, billionaires in this region are also increasingly focused on making an impact in society, the report noted.

Mr Anurag Mahesh, co-head of Asia-Pacific global family office at UBS Global Wealth Management, said: “Over the years, we have seen a rise in Asian billionaire families seeking professional advice for bespoke integrated banking solutions.

“An increasing number of Asian billionaire families have been creating a positive and sustainable impact on society through philanthropy and sustainable investments.”

Mr Mahesh said the trend in sustainable investment and philanthropy is set to increase, with the transfer of wealth to the younger generation. He added that there is also a rising interest among women in such investments.

Female billionaires in the region have more than doubled, from 26 in 2013 to 68, the highest growth among all regions. Over 60 per cent of them are entrepreneurs.

Mr Kagalwala said: “The data is heartening. Especially on the front of philanthropy, we are seeing more and more families seeking to set up charitable foundations to support causes, alongside their family offices.”