The 2017 UBS/PwC Billionaires Report has just been released, and the results of the analysis this year are particularly interesting. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the report to understand what this means for the yachting industry.

The Big Picture

• The report analysed over 1,500 billionaires who own or partly own, businesses employing over 27 million people (roughly the size of the working population of the UK).

• During the year 2016, billionaire wealth returned to growth after a dip in 2015 (with their total wealth globally rising +17%).

• Newly minted billionaires in 2016 employ close to 3 million people.

• Self-made entrepreneurs and rapid wealth creation in Asia drove the surge in wealth.

• The tech industry creates the youngest billionaires — although most of the wealth creation was still driven by those over the age of 50.

• Europe continues to be the home of multi-generational billionaires. While it may not be the best at creating great wealth, Europe has proved to be the best at keeping it.

Asia outpacing the US for the first time

• For the first time, Asian billionaires outnumbered their US counterparts with 637 in Asia compared to 563 in the US. (In terms of total value, the US still retains the highest concentration of wealth – but it is slowing.)

• At this rate, the total wealth of Asian billionaires will overtake that of their US counterparts in four years.

• Powered by China, Asia is creating one new billionaire every three days.

• One hundred and thirteen Asian entrepreneurs attained billionaire status during the year, accounting for more than half (53.8%) of 2015’s global total.


• The exceptional wealth creation over the past 20 years will soon be followed by the biggest-ever wealth transfer.

• For most of Asia’s young economies, this will be the first handover of billionaire wealth, as over 85% are first generation. 

Female Power

• The number of female billionaires grew by a factor of 6.6 from 1995 to 2014, and the number of men by a smaller factor of 5.2.

• While most female billionaires come from the US and Europe, Asia has the greatest growth in the number of self-made female billionaires.

• Over 80% of female billionaires are coming from the US and Europe.

• More than 50% of Asian female billionaires are self-made, compared to 19% in the US and 7% in Europe.

Hong Kong has long been a destination for some of the world’s wealthiest people

With wealth in Asia Pacific featuring prominently in every aspect of the report as compared to Europe or in America, developing your business and creating meaningful business partnerships in this region must be part of your long-term strategy if you want to sell in the next decade.

Today, a concerted effort is being made by several industry leaders to educate local governments in Asia on how more yacht-friendly legislation can ignite growth in their regions. One such person leading the charge is Andy Treadwell, owner of the Singapore and Thailand Yacht Shows.

Billionaires are generally self-made in this region, as this report confirms, and tend to be much younger (a third of them under 50), with a huge appetite for learning and living new lifestyles. They are starting to like the look of yachting for fun. So the more big boats that come this way in the winter, the more their curiosity and desire will be aroused, and the more they will want to take part – get on a yacht and try it out … so a new potential yacht charterer, and eventual owner is being produced every day, Andy told us.

Those present in Asia are already capitalizing on the opportunity to get clients on the water in the region. Camper & Nicholsons International opened their office in Hong Kong less than six months ago. Carmen Lau, Managing Director, told us that, “the headquarters started with three staff in May and with the increased demand from Asian customers the office now has a team of 10 covering sales & purchase, yacht management, and charter services.”

With more friendly charter regulations in Thailand potentially coming into play, industry insiders are confident that foreign superyachts will start coming to discover what Asia has to offer, as a change from the Caribbean. And with big new marinas like Ana Marina Yacht Club in Vietnam opening shortly for business, infrastructure developers around the region are preparing to take advantage of the expected influx.

Singapore is investing heavily in attracting superyachts to the area.

Just last month at the Singapore-Indonesia Investment Forum, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo led talks that focused heavily on the development of marine tourism. Andy Treadwell commented that, “There’s a major plan underway to create “10 New Balis” (high-end resorts) and real excitement about the potential economic impact from yacht arrivals”.

In Thailand, the government has already signalled their readiness to make major regulation changes to boost superyacht charter. The Thailand Yacht Show was in fact conceived by the government themselves to drive this project, with Andy’s team the chosen organizer, and he believes this will be finalized very soon now.

When it is, he said, “…it will stimulate change and new business in the whole ASEAN region, where the cruising grounds are almost limitless in extent and diversity – from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam in the north, both coasts of Thailand, down through Malaysia and Singapore, the 17,500-island paradise that is Indonesia”. And with the Australian industry body also pressing their government to open up to charter there too, while New Zealand and many of the Pacific Islands have already done so, the opportunities to create exceptional business opportunities in this huge extended region are there to be taken.

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