Brexit vote wiped $1.5tn off UK household wealth in 2016

The UK saw $1.5tn (£1.2tn) wiped off its wealth during 2016 after the Brexit vote sent the pound tumbling and the stock market into reverse, according to a survey by Credit Suisse.

A fall in values at the top-end of the property market also contributed to about 400,000 Britons losing their status as dollar millionaires and one of the biggest drops in wealth among the major economies, reports The Guardian.

But the UK remained third for the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, who own more than £50m in assets, behind the US and China. And the UK’s top 1 per cent of richest people also continued to own 24 per cent of the nation’s wealth, the report said.

Across the globe, the richest 1 per cent own more wealth than the rest of the world put together, continuing the dominance seen in last year’s report. A recovering in the global stock markets in recent weeks is also likely to reverse some of the losses suffered by pension savers and wealthy individuals.

Oxfam said the huge gap between rich and poor was “undermining economies, destabilising societies and holding back the fight against poverty”.

The findings from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s seventh annual global wealth report that found the overall growth in global wealth remained flat in 2016, following a trend that emerged in 2013 and contrasting sharply with the double-digit growth rates witnessed before the global financial crisis of 2008.

Michael O’Sullivan, chief investment officer in Credit Suisse’s wealth management arm: “The impact of the Brexit vote is widely thought of in terms of GDP but the impact on household wealth bears watching.

“Since the Brexit vote, UK household wealth has fallen by $1.5tn. Wealth per adult has already dropped by $33,000 to $289,000 since the end of June. In fact, in US dollar terms, 406,000 people in the UK are no longer millionaires.”

The report found that total global wealth in 2016 edged up 1.4 per cent, or $3.5tn, to $256tn in line with the increase in the world’s adult population. Accordingly, average wealth per adult of $52,800 remains in line with last year’s figures.

The number of millionaires globally increased by 155 per cent, while the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals has risen by 216 per cent, making them by far the fastest-growing group of wealth holders.

More than 90 per cent of the wealthiest people in the world live in developed nations, mostly the US, but the rise of millionaires and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) in China meant there was a shift to emerging economies in recent years.

Credit Suisse said: “This century, no other segments of the wealth pyramid have developed as significantly as the millionaire and UHNWI segments. The number of millionaires is projected to reach 45.1 million by 2021, while the number of UHNWIs could reach 208,000, up from 141,000.”

The US hosted the highest number of UHNWIs with 56,000 followed by China with around 9,000, the UK in third place with 5,000.

Oxfam said it was clear from the survey that the wealthiest are holding their own while those on lower incomes are struggling.

Spokeswoman Sally Copley said: “The wealthiest one percent of the population – who own nearly a quarter of all the country’s wealth – continue to do well whilst so many people in Britain are just about managing to stay above the poverty line.

“Tomorrow’s autumn statement presents a real opportunity for the government to show how they are going to make the economy work for everyone and not just those at the very top,” she said.