Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Zurich — Personal financial wealth swelled 12% last year to nearly $202-trillion, the strongest growth in five years as bull markets and the dollar’s weakening against most major currencies boosted global fortunes, a study showed on Thursday.

Adjusted for exchange rate swings, global wealth rose 7%, the Boston Consulting Group survey found.

While residents of North America held the greatest share of personal wealth at almost 43%, the fastest growth came in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Most super-rich individuals lived in the US, China and Japan.

The consulting group’s annual study showed Switzerland remained the world’s biggest centre for managing offshore wealth with $2.3-trillion, followed by Hong Kong with $1.1-trillion and Singapore with $0.9-trillion.

The two Asian centres have grown at yearly rates of 11% and 10% respectively over the past five years, more than three times the 3% rate Switzerland has posted.

"Over the next five years, offshore wealth seems likely to continue growing at a [compound annual growth rate] of roughly 5% per year," according to the study.

It is in the fast-growing markets that large wealth managers, including Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are casting wider nets. The Swiss banking secrecy from which they long profited has been weakened, meaning rich people from around the world can no longer easily use the country to stash wealth away from tax authorities at home.

The changes have put Switzerland in fierce competition with faster-growing centres such as Hong Kong and Singapore.