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The BRICS Wealth Report: Challenging The Global Economic Order

The total investable wealth currently held in the BRICS bloc amounts to USD 45 trillion and its millionaire population is expected to rise by 85% over the next 10 years, according to the inaugural BRICS Wealth Report, published today by international investment migration advisory firm Henley & Partners in partnership with global wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth. There are currently 1.6 million individuals with investable assets of over USD 1 million in the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, including 4,716 centi-millionaires or ‘centis’ (with more than USD 100 million in investable assets) and 549 billionaires.

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The original BRICS cohort comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa added substantial new financial firepower and geopolitical clout with the inclusion this month of new Middle East and North Africa (MENA) members Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The BRICS bloc now represents more than 45% of the world’s population and accounts for a larger share (nearly 36%) of global GDP than G7 countries (30%) when adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP).

CEO of Henley & Partners, Dr. Juerg Steffen, says BRICS is now a highly influential player in the global economy, presenting attractive new opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs, and talented high-net-worth individuals. “The inclusion of MENA countries is not just a political realignment but a recognition of their growing economic stature. The region, historically pivotal due to its energy resources, is now asserting a more diversified economic role. For investors worldwide, MENA’s growing participation in BRICS opens a realm of possibilities beyond the region, offering access to fast-growing consumer markets, strategic geographic positioning, and unique cultural and business environments.”

BRICS private wealth unpacked

The new report reveals that in the last decade, private wealth grew by a remarkable 92% in China, which is now home to 862,400 millionaires, including 2,352 centi-millionaires and 305 billionaires. India follows in 2nd place in the BRICS HNWI ranking, with 326,400 millionaires, including over 1,000 centis and 120 billionaires, and wealth growth soaring by 85% over the past 10 years. The UAE’s millionaire population has also shot up since 2013, by 77%, and the Middle East’s leading wealth hub is now home to 116,500 millionaires, including over 300 centis. The past decade has also seen robust private wealth growth in Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, with their millionaire populations rising by 35% and 30%, respectively.

Commenting in the BRICS Wealth Report, leading personal finance and investment expert Jeff D. Opdyke says “nations once considered ‘developing’ or ‘emerging’ or the pejorative ‘third world’ are now dynamic economies that are changing the global order. Economically, non-Western nations — with BRICS at the vanguard — are pushing the globe into a new reality: An emerging economic, social, and monetary status quo that is upending what the world has accepted as normal for nearly eight decades.”

Although the rest of the BRICS cohort have seen a decline in their millionaire populations since 2013, ranging from a drop of 20% in South Africa, now home to 37,400 millionaires, and a 38% drop in Iran, where 11,900 HNWIs reside today, there is still significant private wealth to be found within the borders of these Global South nations. Brazil is home to 82,400 millionaires — a 28% decline since 2013, Russia has 68,400 resident HNWIs — 24% less than in 2013, and 15,600 US-dollar millionaires live in Egypt, 22% down on its 2013 HNWI population.

However, as Dr. José Caballero, Senior Economist at the IMD World Competitiveness Center in Switzerland points out in the report, “BRICS as an organization offers a set of dynamic markets with relatively stable political systems that could influence the future of the global economy. The strength of these economies lies for some in the dynamism of their SMEs sectors and for others in the agility of their political systems. As an intergovernmental organization, therefore, the members of the expanded BRICS complement one other, which in turn ensures the sustainability of their creation of wealth.”
 

Wealth growth forecasts for BRICS countries

Looking to the decade ahead, when it comes to private wealth growth projections, India leads the BRICS pack with a forecast 110% increase in wealth per capita by 2033. Saudi Arabia is runner up with its wealth per capita expected to expand by over 105% in the next 10 years, followed closely by the UAE on 95%. China (85%), Ethiopia (75%), South Africa (60%), and Egypt (55%) are all forecast to enjoy wealth growth of over 50% in the next decade.

But, as Dr. Robert Mogielnicki, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, cautions in the report, “the new Middle Eastern member countries of BRICS do not represent a homogenous group. These countries exhibit divergent economic conditions: Saudi Arabia and the UAE enjoy robust economies, while Egypt and Iran confront systematic economic challenges. There are also major differences in each country’s respective positions in the international order and how senior government actors therein pursue political and diplomatic interests on the world stage.”

Top 10 wealthiest BRICS cities

China lays claim to five of the Top 10 wealthiest cities in the grouping, with its capital Beijing securing top honors as the wealthiest BRICS city, home to 125,600 millionaires, including 347 centi-millionaires and 42 billionaires. Hot on its heels is Shanghai with 123,400 resident HNWIs, of whom 322 are centis and 39 are billionaires. The other three Chinese cities making it into the Top 10 are Shenzhen (5th with 50,300 millionaires), Hangzhou (6th with 31,600), and Guangzhou (9th with 24,500).

The UAE and India each have two cities in the Top 10. Dubai is in 3rd place, living up to its reputation as the ‘City of Gold’ with 72,500 millionaires making it their home, of whom 212 are centi-millionaires and 15 are billionaires, and Abu Dhabi sits in 10th place with 22,700 resident millionaires (including 68 centis and 5 billionaires). Mumbai, India’s largest megacity and de-facto financial center, comes 4th with 58,800 resident millionaires (236 centis and 29 billionaires among them) and its national capital Delhi ranks 7th (home to 31,000 millionaires, including 123 centis and 16 billionaires) ahead of Moscow in 8th place (30,300 millionaires, with 207 centis and 23 billionaires).

The Russian Federation’s capital is the only Top 10 city with a declining millionaire population over the past decade. Moscow saw a 24% drop in HNWIs while the rest of the wealthiest cities in BRICS have all enjoyed significant private wealth growth of between 75% (Abu Dhabi) and — in the case of Shenzhen — an astonishing 140% more millionaires than in 2013.

BRICS wealth hubs of the future

According to exclusive data in the BRICS Wealth Report, there are five cities that didn’t make it into the BRICS Top 10 Wealthiest Cities list for 2024 but are expected to experience particularly strong (80%+) wealth growth over the coming decade.

Bengaluru, nicknamed the “Silicon Valley of India” due to its booming tech sector, is currently home to approximately 13,200 millionaires and this number is projected to reach over 30,000 by 2033, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the BRICS bloc, with forecast wealth growth of 125% over the next 10 years.

Head of Research at New World Wealth, Andrew Amoils, says Sharjah in the UAE and Saudi’s Riyadh and Jeddah are also cities to watch. “Despite accounting for far less private wealth than Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah’s millionaire population is growing at a slightly faster rate than both these cities in percentage growth terms. There are currently 4,100 HNWIs living in the emirate and this number is projected to reach over 9,000 by 2033, a growth of 120%. Likewise, Jeddah and Saudi capital Riyadh look set to enjoy a millionaire boom with growth rates of 100% and 90% forecast over the next decade.”

Amoils adds that South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ Cape Town is also tipped to see an influx of HNW residents, with its current 7,400 millionaire population set to swell by 85% over the next 10 years to 13,500 in 2033.

BRICS lack of economic mobility

Even though BRICS now controls more of the world’s GDP PPP than the G7, its citizens have significantly less economic mobility than those residing in the most advanced economies. According to the Henley Passport Power Index, the average percentage of global GDP that passport holders from BRICS countries can access visa-free is just 21% compared to those from G7 nations who collectively enjoy access to over 80% of global GDP on average without requiring a prior visa.

Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, says the extended BRICS community will create new opportunities in the investment migration sector, “both for investors seeking greater access to BRICS member states and for those within BRICS countries looking to improve their global access and passport power. Residence and/or citizenship by investment programs can play a transformative role in attracting debt-free capital and talent and fostering a more interconnected and powerful ecosystem.”

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