Top 20 Cities for Millionaire Density (Source: GlobalData WealthInsight, Verdict).
As the rich and famous descended on Monaco for the sixth stage of the Formula One World Championship late this May, the tiny Principality bordered by France on three sides and facing the Mediterranean that has long drawn the wealthy, new figures came my way on ‘millionaire density’ for the top twenty cities around the globe.
According to the research from business news and analysis firm Verdict that was compiled by GlobalData WealthInsight, Monaco beats a trio of Swiss cities followed by London in terms of millionaire density. This is measured as the percentage of the resident population with assets - not including the value of their first home - of over $1 million (m). And, it remains the top global city for ‘millionaire density’ by some margin - albeit seeing some slippage this year according to new research.
With an area of just over 2 square kilometres (0.78 sq. miles) and a population of about 38,400 - equating to some 19,000 per km² according to the last census of 2015, Monaco is also the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world.
Despite Monaco’s dominance as the most millionaire-dense city globally, the latest rankings revealed that just under a third of people (30.6%) living in the Mediterranean city-state have a net worth of over $1m. This represented of 0.5 percentage points decline over the 31.1% recorded in 2016.
Top 20 Cities Globally
For the top 20, all cities featured in the 2016 report registered declines over the year. New York, ranked 9th in these current findings, and is the only US city to make it into the top 10. For the ‘Big Apple’ millionaire density fell to 2% - against 4.7% in the corresponding a year earlier. Elsewhere in the US, Houston ranked 14th and San Francisco 18th.
Europe dominates the top 10, with the only non-European cities Hong Kong ranked 6th, Singapore at 7th and New York. London has been nudged to fifth by new addition to the list, Zug in Switzerland, which as of December 2015 had a population of 29,256 inhabitants, ranks fourth.
The sleepy Swiss town is home to a disproportionate number of multinationals, in turn attracting their millionaire directors. A swathe of international companies such as mining and commodity trading group Glencore, maintain their registered addresses in the Canton thanks to its advantageous and low tax environment.
Zürich, the commercial center of Switzerland, has a millionaire density of just 5.2% (2016: 24.3%) now due to a recalculation of population and falls to third place from second last year. As with Geneva, these were the only two cities among the top 20 to see double-digit percentage point density changes.
While Geneva has overtaken Zürich and swapped places in the rankings this year as the second most “millionaire dense spot”, it witnessed its density fall from 17.7% to 6.0% in 2017. Again this was largely again due to a recalculation of population.
This recalculation further emphasizes Monaco’s attractiveness to the world’s wealthy, the report noted. And, the respective percentage point declines of Geneva (-11.88) and Zürich (-19.1) over the year before underline this and makes declines recorded on other cities in the top 20 look like small beer.
Frankfurt and Paris rank 8th and 10th, respectively, while outside the top 10 Oslo sits in 12th spot, Dublin in 15th, Rome in 17th and Copenhagen in 20th position.
WealthInsight’s Oliver Williams commenting on these findings said: “A global crackdown on tax evasion and worries about the reputational damage of leaks such as the Panama Papers has dampened demand for tax havens such as Monaco.”
Add to that, a global shift in wealth towards Asia and the “rocketing price of Monegasque real estate has also put some millionaires off the city state” according to Williams.
According to Billy Bambrough, Verdict editor, “It is heartening to see London’s density of millionaires all but unaffected by last year’s Brexit vote suggesting people are waiting to see how negotiations between the UK and the European Union play out over the next couple of years.”
General population size is still the most decisive factor when it comes to the number of millionaires, but as Bambrough pointed out with London by far the largest city in the top five “its 1/29 proportion of millionaires is undoubtedly impressive.” Food for thought, but we will have to wait for 2018 to see if Monaco's latest decline in millionaire density was a blip this time round.