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  1. Wealth
February 29, 2024updated 12 Mar 2024 10:32am

Millennials set to be richest generation ever as number of UHNW rises 

Generational transfer of trillions of dollars of assets puts millennials in line to become the richest generation in history, finds Knight Frank's Wealth Report 2024

By Suzanne Elliott

Millennials will be the richest generation in history as the great wealth transfer moves trillions of assets down through the generations, according to Knight Frank‘s 18th annual Wealth Report.

Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, can expect a US$90 trillion inheritance in the US alone over the next 20 years, largely from property, as baby boomers and the silent generation hand over the reins. This shift will have a ‘seismic’ impact on how wealth is used, the report notes.

Meanwhile the number of UHNWs (defined for the report as an individual with a net worth of at least US$30 million) has increased, reversing the trend from 2022.

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Generational wealth transfer to millennials

The shift in generational wealth will have far-reaching implications for the wealth management industry.

‘The difference in outlook between younger and older generations will result in a substantial reappraisal of marketing strategies for anyone wanting to sell products or services to this newly wealthy group,’ the report notes. This is particularly true regarding the younger generation’s interest in sustainability.

Genz Z and Millenials are most confident in their ability to create wealth, according to Knight Frank’s research. Seventy-five per cent of millennials expect their wealth to increase in 2024, compared with 53 per cent of boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). Among Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) 56 per cent thought their wealth would grow, while 69 per cent in the younger Gen Z group thought the 2024 report said.

There was also a small shift in wealth distribution among women. The report cited recent survey findings from Altrata suggesting women make up around 11 per cent of global UHNWIs, up from 8 per cent less than a decade ago. Bailey forecast that wealth creation trends among Gen Z-ers suggested the 38 per cent increase in female UHNW over the past decade ‘is set to keep on building’.

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Number of super-rich is on the rise

Despite slower global growth, the number of UHNWs rose, reversing 2022's slump. According to the Wealth Report 2024, the number of super-rich globally grew by 4.2 per cent in 2023 to 626,619 from 601,300 a year earlier, an increase driven by interest rates, a robust US economy and a surge in equity markets boasted by enthusiasm for AI. Seventy people join the ranks of the super-wealthy every day, the survey noted.

[See also: Conservatives consider scrapping non-dom regime]

Wealth creation was led by North America (7.2 per cent) and the Middle East (6.2 per cent), with Latin America the only region to see its population of (U)HNWs decline. Turkey saw its number of super-rich expand by 10 per cent; the US UHNW population grew by 8 per cent.

While the number of UHNW individuals (defined in this report as someone with a net worth of US$30 million or more) is expected to increase by 28 per cent by 2028, this is noticeably slower than the 44 per cent increase seen in the five years to 2023. Knight Frank's model points to high growth in India (50 per cent) and the
Chinese mainland (47 per cent).

[See also: UHNWs brace for tax reform in election year]

Liam Bailey, Knight Frank's global head of research and editor of The Wealth Report 2024, said: 'The improving interest rate outlook, the robust performance of the US economy and a sharp uptick in equity markets helped wealth creation globally. At the end of 2023 there were 4.2 per cent more UHNWIs than a year earlier, with nearly 70 very wealthy investors minted every day, taking the global total to just over 626,619.'

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