The number of high net worth individuals around the world has slumped dramatically

The economic slump has hit the world’s rich hard with the number of individuals classed as ‘high net worth’ tumbling almost 15%, according to a new survey.

The world’s population of high net worth individuals (people with personal fortunes over US$1m excluding the value of their home) is down 14.9% from a year earlier, said the report. And the number of ultra high net worth individuals (with at least US$30m in assets) slumped 24.6%, according to the world wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. The wealth horded by the world’s rich also dropped about 20% to $32.8 trillion.

The unprecedented declines wiped out two years of robust growth in 2006 and 2007, said the authors.

“The wealth horded by the world’s rich also dropped about 20% to $32.8 trillion.

North America, Asia and Europe continue to be the home of most of the wealthy individuals. Over half of the world’s super rich can be found in North America, Germany and Japan. But, according to the survey, China’s wealthy population surpassed that of the UK to become the fourth largest in the world.

The number of wealthy individuals fell 18.5% in the US, 12.6% in France but only 2.7% in Germany. In Japan the number of high net wroth individuals slipped only 9.9%.

As markets recover overall high net worth wealth is expected to grow to $48.5 trillion by 2013, advancing by an annual rate of 8.1%, reported the financial analysts.