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Swiss remain the richest in the world

An estimated 2,200 individuals in Switzerland are in the ultra-high net worth group, with wealth of over $50 million (Keystone)

The Swiss have pulled away from the pack when it comes to assets per adult, remaining on average the wealthiest citizens in the world.

In concrete terms, by mid-2019 assets per adult in Switzerland stood at $564,650 (CHF555,000), an increase of $17,790 over the previous year, according to the tenth Credit Suisse Global Wealth Reportexternal link, published on Monday.

This puts Switzerland ahead of the United States, where assets per adult have risen by $11,980 since mid-2018, Japan (plus $9,180) and the Netherlands (plus $9,160). The main loser was Australia (down $28,670).

Since 2000, assets per Swiss adult have risen by 144%, according to Credit Suisse. However, much of that rise has been due to appreciation of the franc against the dollar, especially between 2001 and 2013.

In Swiss francs, household wealth rose 45% from 2000 to 2019, representing an average annual rate of 2%.

Financial assets make up 55% of gross wealth in Switzerland – a little higher than their share in the UK, but less than in Japan or the United States.

Debts – mainly in the form of outstanding mortgage loans – average $142,620 per adult, one of the highest levels in the world, and represent 20% of total assets. The debt ratio has risen slightly from a low of 19% in 2014.

Wealth inequality 

The study authors noted that among the ten countries with a long series of wealth distribution data, “Switzerland alone has seen no appreciable reduction in wealth inequality over the past century”.

High average wealth and relatively high wealth inequality had resulted in a large proportion of the Swiss population being in the top levels of the global distribution, they said.

Switzerland accounts for 1.8% of the top 1% of global wealth holders, “which is remarkable for a country with just 0.1% of the world’s adult population”.

About two-thirds of Swiss adults have assets above $100,000, and 12% are dollar millionaires, the study found. An estimated 2,200 individuals are in the ultra-high net worth group, with wealth of over $50 million and 770 have net worth exceeding $100 million.

Wealthiest or not?

In September 2019 German insurer Allianz reported that the Swiss had been knocked off their perch as the world’s wealthiest citizens.

The average Swiss was worth €173,438 (CHF190,087) last year compared to €184,411 for the average American.

The figure measured net wealth per capita, stripping out debt that each person owes on average. The Allianz study said Swiss citizens still enjoyed the highest gross wealth, at €266,318 (CHF293,000), compared to €227,364 in the US.

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