Undeterred by global economic slowdown, international trade wars and geopolitical tensions, HNWI wealth and population increased by nearly 9% globally in 2019.

This was driven by North America and Europe, where growth surpassed Asia-Pacific for the first time since 2012, according to a new report from Capgemini.

The World Wealth Report 2020 also stated North America accounted for nearly 11% growth, while Europe accounted for 9% growth. This marks the first time since 2012 that these two regions have surpassed Asia-Pacific.

The study was carried out in January and February 2020 and hence does not include the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It polled over 2,500 HNWIs across 21 major wealth markets in North America, Latin America, Europe, as well as Asia-Pacific.

APAC expanded by 8% last year, driven by market performance in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

However, the figure was less than the average global HNWI growth rate of 9%.

Sustainable investing (SI) gathers momentum

The study found 27% of HNWIs overall interested in SI products. The key factors driving the rise in demand for SI are higher returns and lower risks.

HNWIs plan to allocate 41% of their portfolio to SI products by the end of 2020, and 46% by the end of 2021.

Capgemini Financial Services CEO and group executive board member Anirban Bose said: “In the face of today’s extraordinary uncertainty, wealth managers and firms are finding themselves in uncharted waters. 

“This unpredictable period may also present opportunities for firms to reassess and reinvent their business and operating models to be more agile and resilient. Analytics and automation as well as emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, can enable firms to enhance revenues through better client experiences while reducing costs by streamlining processes.”

BigTechs rise in demand as wealth grows in 2019

The study found 74% of HNWIs willing to consider wealth management services from BigTech.

This trend is more pronounced among HNWIs in Latin America and Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) and in those HNWIs below 40 years of age.

However, only 26% of the wealth managers consider BigTech competition among the top potential disruptors.