The tide is turning in the USA, a country shaped by generations of immigrants from across the globe, whose descendants went on to create the largest wealth market in the world. As we enter 2023, a new dynamic is playing out, with wealthy Americans seeking greener pastures abroad at an unprecedented rate. And as highlighted in the inaugural USA Wealth Report, published today by investment migration specialists Henley & Partners in partnership with wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth, the country is also losing its luster among migrating millionaires, with experts commenting that “the ‘American Dream’ is now on life-support.”
The report also reveals that there is a significant internal movement of high-net-worth individuals currently underway within the country. Cities such as Austin, Scottsdale, Greenwich, and Miami are gaining millionaires, while the big wealth hubs of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City are losing them.
The 2023 USA Wealth Report features exclusive new private wealth research and data, providing a comprehensive review of America’s wealth sector, including trends among high-net-worth individuals, city wealth statistics, millionaire migration patterns, and a review of the key drivers of wealth. The data reveals a notable drop in net inflows of millionaires to America in 2022 when the figure fell to just 1,500, when compared with the period from 2013 to 2019 when net inflows of millionaires fluctuated between 6,400 to 10,800 annually. Net migration is calculated as the difference between high-net-worth individuals moving to the USA versus those emigrating abroad.
Record number of American’s applying for alternative citizenships
In terms of private wealth outflows, Henley & Partners’ Head of North America, Mehdi Kadiri, says the firm received the most enquiries from US citizens on record in 2022 (a 447% increase from 2019) when, for the first time, Americans ranked highest of all nationalities worldwide applying for residence and citizenship by investment programs. “To meet this significant and growing demand from US investors, Henley & Partners has opened three American offices this year, in the wealth hubs of Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City,” says Kadiri.
Commenting in the USA Wealth Report, Global investment expert and personal finance author, Jeff D. Opdyke, says soaring inflation, social and political unrest, and a rapidly declining middle class are seeing record numbers of wealthy US citizens expatriating or renouncing their citizenship. “The new consumer class rising up in non-Western countries will ultimately outnumber Western consumers by three billion or more. The American Dream that is floundering in its birthplace is being reconceptualized by this developing consumer class and reaching that base might well mean stepping outside of US borders and establishing yourself and your family elsewhere.”
Benchmarking America’s private wealth
According to the latest private wealth data featured in the 2023 USA Wealth Report, America is the world’s largest wealth market by a substantial margin, accounting for an extraordinary 32% of global wealth and 36% of the world’s dollar millionaires. The USA is also home to the two largest stock markets in the world (the NYSE and the Nasdaq) as well as hosting nine of the top ten largest companies globally by market cap. The wealth held in New York City alone outstrips that of most G20 countries.
By comparison, although its economic rival China ranks only marginally behind the USA in nominal GDP terms, when it comes to private wealth and the high-net-worth population, America is in a league of its own, with treble the total wealth of China and seven times as many dollar millionaires (as of December 2022). Perhaps most importantly, wealth per capita levels in the USA are 12 times higher than in China.
Misha Glenny, award-winning journalist and author, emphasizes in the report that the relationship between economic giants China and the USA will be the single most important factor in determining the world’s future. “China has the largest dollar reserves outside the USA and a monopoly on raw materials essential for hi-tech production and the green transition. For this reason, they prop each other up — one falls, and the other comes tumbling down with it — but more recently, their relationship has morphed from one of ‘strategic co-operation’ to ‘strategic competition’. China today presents both a serious ideological and an economic threat to the USA because they are so deeply entangled — yet increasingly competitive.”
Wealthiest and fastest growing US cities
New York City takes the crown as the wealthiest city in the US (and the world) with 340,000 millionaires, followed by the Bay Area (285,000), Los Angeles (205,400), Chicago (124,000) and Houston (98,500).
When it comes to America’s fastest growing wealth hubs, five cities have experienced millionaire growth of more than 70% in the decade from 2012 to 2022. Frontrunner Austin’s millionaire population shot up by 102% in that time, and the city now boasts 30,500 resident high-net-worth individuals worth USD 1 million or more. West Palm Beach grew by 90% (home to 9,400 millionaires), Scottsdale by 88% (with 13,900 millionaires), Miami by 75% (with 38,000 millionaires), and Greenwich & Darien by 72% (with 11,900 millionaires).
Note: The above figures are rounded off to the nearest 100. “Millionaires” also known as “high-net-worth individuals” refer to individuals with net investable assets of USD 1 million or more.
Second home hotspots for the super-rich
Beachfront areas feature prominently in the list of top holiday home hotspots for American centi-millionaires (each worth USD 100 million or more), as do Rocky Mountain towns. According to the latest stats in the 2023 USA Wealth Report, Miami is the hottest spot in the US with 160 centi-millionaires making it their permanent residence — a number that swells to over 800 super-rich in season.
In the Hamptons, the centi-millionaire population mushrooms from 25 to over 700 in the peak vacation period, while in West Palm Beach, where 64 centi-millionaires live permanently, over 400 take up residence during the season. More than 200 centi-millionaires can be found in Napa, Aspen, Santa Barbara & Montecito, and San Diego in peak holiday months.
However, Founder of Real Estate of the Future, Nikki Greenberg, says the 2023 outlook for prime residential real estate in the USA is precarious and unpredictable. “There’s a significant slowdown in the quantity of homes for sale and prices paid for prime real estate in the USA. As the luxury market heads for a likely slump, the appetite for high-net-worth individuals to purchase properties overseas where they can get more value is expected to continue throughout 2023 as Americans take advantage of their strong currency. In countries where there are attractive residence rights and perks linked with acquiring a property overseas, there is an additional advantage for investors and their families.”
Kadiri says the most sought-after investment migration option for US citizens is the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program followed by Malta’s investment offering, which allows for the granting of citizenship by a certificate of naturalization to foreign individuals and their families who contribute to the country’s economic development. “International real estate has always been a reliable asset class for global investors due to its long-term staying power. Real estate–linked investment migration programs such as those offered by Portugal and Malta have the additional advantages of enhancing your global mobility through multiple passports and expanding your personal access rights as a citizen or resident of additional jurisdictions, creating optionality in terms of where you and your family can live, work, study, retire, and invest. The potential gains over the lifetime of the investment include the core value of the asset, rental yields, and global access as an ultimate hedge against both regional and global volatility.”
Other programs that are gaining traction among American investors include the Spain Residence by Investment Program, the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, the Greece Golden Visa Program, and the Italy Residence by Investment Program.
Top industries and colleges producing America’s centi-millionaires
The 2023 USA Wealth Report provides an analysis of the main industries in which centi-millionaires in the USA have acquired their wealth. For individuals who inherited their wealth, it looks at the source of their family’s wealth. More than a quarter (28%) made their millions in financial and professional services, 14% in tech, 8% in real estate and a further 8% in media and entertainment, while energy and basic materials, and retail each produced 7% of the country’s centi-millionaires, healthcare accounts for 6%, and the hotel and leisure industry has created 5% of America’s most moneyed.
In addition, the report reveals that 35% of the centi-millionaires in the USA today are graduates of just eight schools. John Milne, Group Head of Education Services at Henley & Partners, says Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, Cornell, and Princeton are the Alma Maters of more than a third of America’s super-affluent. “Interesting to note is that a considerable number of America’s centi-millionaires were once international students. In fact, according to the National Foundation for American Policy, a not-for-profit think tank, just under 25% of billion-dollar companies in America were founded by international students, which is ever more reason to earnestly consider securing your children’s access to world-class education.”
Notes to Editors
About Henley & Partners
Henley & Partners is the global leader in residence and citizenship by investment. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area. The firm’s highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 35 offices worldwide.
The concept of residence and citizenship by investment was created by Henley & Partners in the 1990s. As globalization has expanded, residence and citizenship have become topics of significant interest among the increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors whom we proudly serve every day.
The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice that has raised more than USD 10 billion in foreign direct investment. Trusted by governments, the firm has been involved in strategic consulting and in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.
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