Andrew Amoils is Head of Research at New World Wealth.
High-net-worth-individual migration figures are an excellent barometer for the health of an economy. Affluent individuals are extremely mobile, and their movements can provide an early warning signal into future country trends. Countries that draw affluent individuals and families to migrate to their shores tend to be robust, with low crime rates, competitive tax rates, and attractive business opportunities. Millionaire migration has been a rising trend over the past decade, but understandably dipped in 2020 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, and no country-specific figures are available for 2020 and 2021 as the coronavirus outbreak made it difficult to track movement owing to lockdowns and travel restrictions. Off the back of these pandemic-related disruptions that were rapidly followed by the war in Europe, which is having global repercussions, the 2022 figures continue to reflect the extremely volatile environment worldwide.
The top 10 destinations for net inflows of high-net-worth individuals in 2022 are projected to be the UAE, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, the USA, Portugal, Greece, Canada, and New Zealand. Large numbers of millionaires are also expected to move to ‘the three Ms’: Malta, Mauritius, and Monaco. On the flip side, the 10 countries where the highest net outflows of high-net-worth individuals are predicted are Russia, China, India, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Brazil, the UK, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.
The UAE is expected to attract the largest net inflow of high-net-worth individuals in 2022. Approximately 4,000 millionaires are expected to move to the country this year — one of the UAE’s largest inflows on record. Most hail from Russia, India, Africa, and the Middle East. Before the pandemic the UAE traditionally attracted around 1,000 millionaires per year.
There are many reasons why wealthy individuals move to the UAE, an international business hub with a high-income economy and a reputation for being the safe oasis in the Middle East and Africa region. The country is strong in numerous key sectors including financial services, oil and gas, real estate, travel and tourism, technology, and healthcare, with a first-class healthcare system. UAE residents stand to benefit from among the world’s most competitive tax rates, along with the likes of Monaco and Bermuda. In terms of lifestyle, the UAE is a renowned luxury hub, with top-end apartments and villas and world-class shopping malls and restaurants. For those with children, there are excellent international schools, and many beaches with yachting, water sports, and other leisure activities.
Australia consistently attracts large numbers of high-net-worth individuals. New World Wealth estimates that over 80,000 US dollar millionaires have moved to the country over the past 20 years. In 2022, the net inflow is expected to be 3,500 — the second highest globally. The 2022 forecast is moderate compared to recent years, with inflows peaking at 12,200 in 2018.
The consistently high inflows are partly due to Australia’s points-based immigration system, which favors wealthy individuals, business owners, and professionals. Australia also has a first-class healthcare system that is relatively simple for incoming high-net-worth individuals to pay their way into, unlike the USA where healthcare insurance can be complicated and expensive, especially for older high-net-worth individuals.
Australia has a developed economy and is especially strong in the financial services, healthcare, and basic materials sectors and has a burgeoning tech sector. It was also one of the fastest growing markets worldwide over the past 20 years in terms of wealth growth and GDP growth. Although company tax and income tax rates in Australia are relatively high, unlike most other developed markets, Australia has no inheritance taxes. This encourages wealthy people to stay in the country and build their businesses for future generations.
New World Wealth’s in-house safety index rates Australia as one of the five safest countries in the world for 2021/2022, along with Switzerland, Malta, Iceland, and New Zealand.
Singapore continues to attract millionaires, mainly from the rest of Asia. A net inflow of approximately 2,800 high-net-worth individuals is expected in the city-state in 2022. Notably, Singapore is emerging as Asia’s top wealth management center, which should assist in attracting many more affluent individuals to relocate there in future.
The fourth-highest net inflows expected in 2022 are in Israel, with 2,500. Israel is currently attracting large numbers of millionaires from France, Russia, and the UK, with popular destinations including Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Jerusalem, and Netanya.
Switzerland is projected to attract a net inflow of around 2,200 high-net-worth individuals in 2022. Its abiding appeal is linked to its global ‘safe haven’ status and high standard of living. Switzerland is also the second-largest wealth management hub in the world in terms of assets under management (after the USA), which is a pull factor for high-net-worth individuals, as owing to new cross-border information sharing agreements, many find it increasingly more convenient to be in the same country as where their banking assets are held.
The USA is notably less popular among migrating millionaires than in its heyday, perhaps owing to the looming prospect of higher taxes, and rising crime rates in the big cities. The country is still attracting more high-net-worth individuals than it loses to emigration, with a net inflow of 1,500 projected for 2022.
Traditionally, most millionaires who move to the USA are in the entertainment, financial services, and technology sectors. Many successful tech entrepreneurs move to America, and hotspot Silicon Valley, to take their companies to the next level.
America has seen significant internal migration of high-net-worth individuals over the past five years. They have flocked to destinations such as Austin, Greenwich, and Palm Beach, while big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City have been losing millionaires.
Portugal continues to see a steady inflow of high-net-worth individuals, fueled by its top-rated Golden Residence Permit Program, which has attracted large numbers of millionaires from Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey and over the past decade. Lisbon and the Algarve’s affluent Golden Triangle are especially popular. A net inflow of approximately 1,300 high-net-worth individuals is expected in Portugal in 2022.
Greece has also attracted large numbers of high-net-worth individuals in recent years. Many gain access via its Golden Visa Program, which is rising in popularity with millionaires from China, Egypt, Lebanon, Russia, and Ukraine. Greece is expected to see a net inflow of approximately 1,200 affluent investors in 2022.
Ninth in the top 10 is Canada — notably, Canada is not as popular as it used to be among migrating high-net-worth individuals — at its peak it attracted around 4,000 per year. This year, a net inflow of 1,000 millionaires is expected, while New Zealand is expected to receive a net inflow of 800 high-net-worth individuals.
While not in the top 10 in 2022, Malta has been one of Europe’s great success stories of the past decade, not just in terms of millionaire migration but also in terms of overall wealth growth. It is currently one of the world’s fastest growing markets, with US dollar wealth growth of 87% between 2011 and 2021.
Its citizenship by naturalization process has brought substantial new wealth to the island nation and has been credited with propelling Malta’s strong growth in multiple sectors including financial services, IT, and real estate. Approximately 300 millionaires are expected to move to Malta in 2022.
The Indian Ocean island nation Mauritius has attracted a steady number of high-net-worth individuals over the past decade, perhaps due to the ease of conducting business there. Mauritius is also known for its safety, competitive tax rates, and fast-growing financial services sector.
According to the Africa Wealth Report 2022, Mauritius is now home to 4,800 high-net-worth individuals compared to 2,700 a decade ago — 78% growth. Approximately 150 millionaires are expected to move to Mauritius in 2022, mainly from South Africa and Europe.
Russia is expected to see a net loss of around 15,000 high-net-worth individuals in 2022, a massive 15% of its total millionaire population. Affluent individuals have been emigrating from Russia in steadily rising numbers every year over the past decade, an early warning sign of the current problems the country is facing. Historically, major country collapses have usually been preceded by an acceleration in emigration of wealthy people, who are often the first to leave as they have the means to do so.
China continues to lose large numbers of millionaires to migration and is expected to suffer a net loss of approximately 10,000 in 2022 although this equates to only around 1% of the total high-net-worth population, which provides some comfort. General wealth growth in the country has been slowing over the past few years. As such, recent outflows of high-net-worth individuals may be more damaging than in the past.
In particular, the banning of Huawei 5G by several major markets such as Australia, the UK, and the USA was a big setback for China. Huawei was the crown jewel of China’s hi-tech sector and may well have emerged as the world’s biggest tech company if not for the global interference. China’s deteriorating relationships with Australia and the USA are also a major long-term concern.
India’s net loss of high-net-worth individuals in 2022 is expected to be approximately 8,000. In our view, these outflows are not particularly concerning as India produces far more new millionaires than it loses to migration. There is also a trend of affluent individuals returning to India and once the standard of living in the country improves, we expect wealthy people to move back in increasing numbers.
New World Wealth’s general wealth projections for India are very strong. We expect the high-net-worth individual population to rise by 80% by 2031, which will making India one of the world’s fastest growing wealth markets during this period. This will be fueled by especially strong growth in the local financial services, healthcare, and technology sectors.
In 2022, Hong Kong’s net loss of millionaires is projected to be 3,000. This outflow is probably linked to the recent Hong Kong protests, which have almost certainly damaged the Special Administrative Region’s long-term appeal. Notwithstanding this, Hong Kong remains one of Asia’s wealthiest cities with over 140,000 resident high-net-worth individuals.
It is no surprise that Ukraine is expected to lose far more millionaires in 2022 than ever before, with a net loss of 2,800 predicted — a stunning 42% of its high-net-worth-individual population. It is difficult to know if these millionaires will return to Ukraine once the war ends, as many of them may be granted residence in other European countries.
Brazil is expected to see a net loss of 2,500 millionaires in 2022 — equating to a substantial 2% of its high-net-worth-individual population. Popular destinations for them include the EU (Portugal especially) and the USA.
The UK has traditionally been seen as one of the world’s top destinations for migrating millionaires and for many years (from 1980 to 2010) the country attracted huge numbers of affluent individuals from Africa (especially South Africa), Asia (especially India and Russia), Europe, and the Middle East.
This trend began to reverse around five years ago when, for the first time, more high-net-worth individuals left the country than entered. Notably, between 2017 and 2022 the UK has lost approximately 12,000 more millionaires than it has gained. Possible reasons for the exodus include the Brexit impact and rising taxes on high-net-worth individuals.
Although this trend may flatten out over time, it is clear that the UK is certainly no longer seen as a prime destination for the world’s wealthiest individuals. That title has now firmly shifted to the likes of Australia, Switzerland, and the UAE.
The UK nevertheless attracts a steady stream of high-net-worth individuals from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. However, outflows still outstrip inflows and for 2022 a net outflow of 1,500 HNWIs is projected. Most are expected to move to the EU (Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Malta, and Monaco especially). Significant numbers are also expected to move to Australia, the UAE, and the USA.
The UK has also seen large internal high-net-worth migration over the past few years, with many leaving London for affluent towns such as Henley, Marlow, Taplow, and Weybridge.
Mexico is expected to lose 800 millionaires in 2022, while Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are both predicted to lose 600. Outflows from these three countries have been relatively consistent over the past decade and are not a major concern.