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Australians are the richest in the world

The median wealth of Australians is the highest in the world, beating even Switzerland and Norway, according to a new report by Credit Suisse.

And the level of real assets per adult is second only to Norway. While Norwegians might own more property, Australians have a large amount of their wealth in financial assets. Financial assets include bank deposits, shares and superannuation – thanks largely to compulsory super and broad share ownership of companies such as Telstra Corporation (ASX: TLS), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) and Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG).

Australia’s median wealth per adult is US$194,000, compared to Switzerland of US$87,000 and Norway of US$79,000. Yes, you read that right, the average is more than double the next wealthiest country.

Compared to the rest of the world, very few Australians have a net worth less than US$10,000, mainly thanks to low credit card and student loan debt. The proportion of adults with wealth above US$100,000 is the highest of any country and eight times the world average, mainly thanks to Australia being sparsely populated, high levels of natural resources and high real estate prices.

According to the report, we also have 1,571,000 people in the top 1% of the richest people on the planet, and 905,000 millionaires. Perhaps surprisingly, you only need to have a net wealth of US$710,000, to qualify for the top 1%. If you have net assets of over US$71,000, you are in the richest 10% of global wealth holders, while net assets of just US$3,700 will place you in the top half of the world’s richest citizens.

Looking to the future, total household wealth is expected to increase by almost 50% in the next five years, with China expected to add US$18 trillion to global wealth and overtake Japan as the second-wealthiest country in the world. The United States is expected to remain at the top, with wealth of US$89 trillion.

That should make Australians feel a bit more confident about their ‘lot’ in life. We have a lot to be thankful for, and appear to be punching above our weight, when it comes to global wealth. The report forecasts that we are likely to remain at the top of the table, along with Switzerland and Norway.

China’s transformation from an industrial economy into a consumer-driven society will see it rise several places in the global wealth ranks, and offers an opportunity for Australian companies.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in BHP. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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