Over the past decade, The Wealth Report has ranked the cities that matter most to the world’s wealthy, based on where they live, invest, educate their children, grow their businesses, network and spend their leisure time. On all measures, year-in year-out, London and New York have vied for the two top slots. No other city comes close in terms of their breadth and depth of appeal.
This year, London has beaten New York for the second successive time to win the accolade of ‘most important city to UHNWIs’, according to the results of our Attitudes Survey of wealth advisors. Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai repeated their competition for positions three to six.
Asians took a more bullish outlook, with only 30% saying the status quo was set in stone
Given that London and New York seemed unlikely to be overtaken this year, we also asked the contributors to the Attitudes Survey to identify risks that could potentially undermine the two cities’ appeal. For London, the table of risks was headed by changes in taxation – reflecting five years of relatively rapid tax reform in the UK, followed by changes to financial regulation driven by the impact of EU and domestic activism on London’s financial sector. In New York, tax and financial regulation risk were joined by the threat from terrorism, which ranked only marginally lower in London’s case. Looking ahead, we asked which cities, if any, could realistically challenge
London and New York during the next decade. Of those who thought a challenger could emerge, opinion was divided fairly evenly between Singapore and Shanghai. In terms of importance, our respondents are predicting Shanghai will eclipse Hong Kong’s appeal over the period. Interestingly, while 68% of European respondents and nearly 50% of North American respondents felt no city could overtake London and New York, Asians took a more bullish outcome with only 30% saying the status quo was set in stone.
There is no direct correlation between the locations where the wealthy are normally resident and the locations their advisors view as being most important to them. This reflects the itinerant nature of many UHNWIs who increasingly educate their children overseas while working and living in multiple international locations. Working with our data partners at Sabre Airline Solutions, we wanted to understand which cities were actually the best connected to the world’s wealthy.
Our analysis was based on matching nearly 100 key cities globally to each other in terms of travel time. In the graphic The Best Connected Cities we confirm the population of UHNWIs normally resident in each city and then confirm the number of UHNWIs who can reach the city from other key hubs within a two-hour flight period. New York (5,600) pips London (4,900) in terms of resident UHNWI residents.
But London’s geographical position means that within a two-hour flight the city is accessible to over 16,000 UHNWIs compared with New York’s 8,300. This helps to explain why the UK capital is generally held as being more important to the global UHNWI population. The concentration of wealth within Europe propels cities in this region high up the ranking of “wealth accessibility” on this measure, with cities in the US and China seeing similar levels of connectivity to wealth.