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America Remains the World’s Top Wealth Hub

Mehdi Kadiri

Mehdi Kadiri

Mehdi Kadiri, Managing Partner and Head of North America at Henley & Partners.

The story of America is one of aspiration. Ever since its founding by migrants seeking religious freedom, economic opportunity, and political liberty, the USA has been a beacon to the ambitious across the globe. This has not changed in 2024, an election year pivotal not just for America, but the world.

The USA remains the undisputed leader in private wealth creation and accumulation. It accounts for 32% of global liquid investable wealth — a colossal USD 67 trillion. The country is also home to 37% of the world's millionaires: some 5.5 million high-net-worth individuals who hold over USD 1 million in liquid investable assets.

USA flag and American dollars. American flag blowing in the wind and 100 dollars banknotes in the background

However, political divisions and societal tensions bubbling under the surface for years have now erupted and dominate the headlines as the country heads towards the polls, with some questioning how long the USA’s dominance will last.

Inflows hold strong but America is not #1

The ‘American dream’ was built by migrants, and the world’s millionaires continue flocking to its shores, though net inflows for 2023 are well below the likes of Australia, Singapore, and the UAE. While the USA saw a dip in high-net-worth individual inflows during the pandemic, 2023 marked a recovery with a net inflow of 2,200 millionaires compared to 1,500 in 2022. 2024 is projected to see another net rise in excess of 3,500 based on current trends. However, all these figures still fall short of peak levels of 5,000+ per year seen prior to 2019.

The USA remains a top draw for wealthy tech entrepreneurs and engineers, especially from Asia. Europe, and the UK. Major hubs such as Silicon Valley and Austin continue to attract human capital critical for innovation and business growth. This tech influx counters domestic millionaire migration to states such as Florida and Texas with lower taxes.

Nevertheless, recent years have exposed cracks in the facade. Civil unrest and brazen political attacks on democracy and the rule of law coupled with eroding social cohesion raise tough questions about America’s future stability and ability to attract global talent over the longer term.

Rising investment migration demand

Globally, 2024 is projected to set new records for millionaire migration, with 128,000 high-net-worth individuals forecast to move countries compared to 120,000 in 2023. Much of this anticipated tidal wave can be attributed to geopolitical tensions such as the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, runaway inflation, and lingering Covid impacts in Asia — all underscoring America’s relative safe haven status.

While the world frays at the edges, the USA holds steady as the top destination for global wealth. Consider that a decade ago in 2013, just 51,000 millionaires relocated internationally. The 2024 figure is projected to be 2.5 times higher, proving the indelibility of the American dream across societies.

Underpinning America’s economic leadership is its unmatched tech and financial firepower. Despite recent bureau turbulence with Big Tech, Silicon Valley retains its crown as the world’s pre-eminent start-up ecosystem and magnet for international tech talent. Wall Street similarly leads global finance, with US investment banks funding visionary entrepreneurs and paying the world’s highest compensation to attract the best bankers, traders, and quants.

America’s wealth lead over rival superpower China also remains striking — USD 67 trillion versus USD 27 trillion in total liquid wealth according to New World Wealth’s 2023 estimates. Wealth per capita and the number of millionaires, centi-millionaires, and billionaires are all substantially higher stateside.

Nonetheless, wealthy Americans themselves are increasingly hedging their bets and pursuing backup citizenship or residence abroad at record levels, signaling declining faith in the domestic outlook. A growing number are pursuing domicile diversification strategies across the Caribbean, Europe, and beyond.

For clients of Henley & Partners, the top destination countries include Portugal, Malta, Spain, Greece, and Italy. Motivations range from mitigating political risk, opening up business opportunities abroad, seeking lower taxes, and enhancing global mobility.

It is thus unsurprising that 2023 saw the highest number of residence and citizenship by investment enquiries from American clients on record at Henley & Partners. We anticipate similar strong demand in 2024 as more high-net-worth individuals across the political spectrum seek to hedge uncertainty by securing a Plan B, and often a portfolio of alternative residence or citizenship options.

The millionaire exodus question

Sensationalist headlines occasionally crop up about an impending millionaire exodus from America due to higher taxes, crime, or other domestic concerns. However, the data shows net inflows remaining sturdily positive over any multi-year period.

Rather than wholesale fleeing, what we observe today is more of a ‘millionaire remix’ within America. Cities such as Austin, Miami, and Scottsdale are gaining residents, while traditional hubs such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago experience modest declines. Critically, the broader sum remains net positive, buoyed by relentless immigrant influx not just across the Southern border, but from skilled migrant talent chasing the enduring American dream.

That said, while the USA remains a land of opportunity for now, thanks to its entrepreneurial spirit and economic might, emerging signs of institutional decay, fraying social bonds, and government dysfunction have prompted doubts over whether future generations will enjoy the same possibilities and prosperity.

The millionaire multiplier

Migration has always been core to American success. Statistics show that immigrants generate 25% of patent value and have been awarded almost 40% of the Nobel Prizes won by Americans in chemistry, medicine, and physics since 2000. Moreover, 44% of Fortune 500 companies boast an immigrant founder.

Walk down Sand Hill Road, Wall Street, or Broadway, and one quickly encounters the multiplier effect immigrants have on the American economy, enriching everything from private wealth to public culture. Today’s wealthy American families also reflect this phenomenon, with the children and grandchildren of poor migrants now firmly ensconced among the nation’s elite.

As America enters a polarized election cycle, its economic leadership persists but is increasingly challenged by domestic and foreign threats. Yet the enduring allure of the American dream continues to draw ambitious talent from across the globe, however tarnished.

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Henley & Partners assists international clients in obtaining residence and citizenship under the respective programs. Contact us to arrange an initial private consultation.


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