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Richest of the rich gain ground in Canada

11/21/2014 11:48 EST | Updated 01/21/2015 05:59 EST
There are more ultra-wealthy people in Canada this year than last year and they’re getting richer, according to a global study of the richest of the rich.

The Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report 2014 determined there were 5,304 ultra-wealthy people, defined as those with more than $30 million US in assets, in Canada in 2014. That’s up 6.5 per cent from the 4,980 counted in 2013.

Their holdings have also expanded, by 6.7 per cent to $635 billion US.

The study also confirms a finding made by Statistics Canada in a report released earlier this week that the gap between rich and poor is narrowing in Canada.

As a proportion of total wealth in Canada, the ultra-wealthy hold about 9.3 per cent, much less than the 12.5 per cent in the U.S. or 22.6 per cent in Germany. The proportion of Canadian assets they control is down, as the rest of the population benefits from an expanding economy, the report said.

The study finds that 73 per cent of Canada’s ultra-high net worth individuals were self-made and just 13 per cent inherited money, with the remainder getting their wealth from a combination of both.

Mining and oil money

The study shows the strong role of natural resources in building assets in Canada, with 23 per cent of the richest individuals involved in metals and mining and 12 per cent involved in oil, gas and other fuels.

It points to big changes ahead in the distribution of wealth in Canada, because of the age of most ultra-high net worth individuals. The average age of 63 is among the oldest in the world, second only to Israel, where the average age is 65.

“As intergenerational wealth transfers continue, Canada is likely to experience significant changes in the way ultra-high net worth wealth is held and managed, with expected growth in the segment of the ultra-high net worth population with at least partially inherited wealth,” the report said.

Rest of world sees wider disparity

There are only 320 women in the ultra-wealthy group in Canada.

Worldwide, there are 211,275 people with assets of $30 million or more, a six per cent increase from last year.

They control seven per cent more wealth than they did in 2013, a total of $29.7 trillion. At the same time, global GDP growth was just 3.7 per cent, meaning the ultra-rich control an increasing share of wealth worldwide.

The Weath-X UBS report predicts the size and influence of the richest of the rich, who represent just 0.004 per cent of the population, will continue to grow.

“We predict that in the next five years, the size of the global ultra-high net worth population will swell to more than 250,000 individuals and their combined net worth will almost surpass $40 trillion US,” it forecast.

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