October 10, 2006
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A third of Singapore's high net worth individuals are of Indonesian origin, according to a report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.
At the end of 2005, Singapore had an estimated 55,000 high net worth individuals, holding assets worth $260 billion, the report said.
A third of these individuals were Indonesians with permanent resident status in Singapore -- 18,000 in all -- with assets worth $87 billion.
"Singapore has a very open immigration policy to attract talented foreigners and that has also attracted a lot of high net worth individuals from Indonesia," Tho Gea Hong, market director for Merrill Lynch Global Private client, told a news conference.
High net worth individuals are defined as people who have net financial assets of at least $1 million.
Tho said the number of high net worth individuals in Singapore has risen 13.4 percent from 2004. A total of 1.3 percent of these individuals are ultra-high net worth individuals, with assets exceeding $30 million.
Kong Eng Huat, Market Managing Director, South Asia, for Merrill Lynch Global Private Client, said Asia-Pacific excluding Japan would need 10,000 bankers to serve a million high net worth individuals, compared with an estimated 5,000 bankers now.
He said Merrill expects its Singapore headcount to increase by 20 to 25 percent over the next few years because of strong growth in the wealth management business in Asia.