Australia ticks boxes for ultra-high-net-worth individuals

Despite numerous initiatives to curb foreign investment, Australia is still a destination of choice for ultra-wealthy investors, according to Knight Frank's wealth report.

Australia is the third most-preferred global destination for the world's ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) to emigrate, behind the UK and the US. In separate survey, Knight Frank found more UHNWIs plan to buy Australian property over Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines in 2018.

Obtaining secondary passports and residencies is a growing trend for the world's wealthiest people - 34% of UHNWIs hold a second passport and 29% are planning to purchase one, while 21% are considering emigrating permanently, the report said.

Head of Residential for Australia Sarah Harding said based on the Henley Passport Index, Australia ranked seventh globally in terms of the costs incurred and access to citizenship and residency by investment programmes. Minimum capital required to invest in Australia is US$1.2 million.

In a bid to ease foreign investment in Australia, the New South Wales government raised the stamp duty surcharge from 4% to 8% for foreign buyers, and increased its annual land surcharge from 0.75% to 2% in July 2017.

In the same month, Treasury released a draft paper detailing proposed legislation to remove the main residence exemption for capital gains tax for foreign residents, the report said.

Australia "ticks all the boxes" for investors looking for large-scale land holdings with security of tenure, top-quality management, significant energy and environmental diversification potential and convenient access to the world's fastest-growing food market, it said.

Locally, the number of ultra-wealthy Australians, those with US$50 million or more, rose 9% in 2017 to 1260 - holding a combined worth of US$269 billion.

In five years' time, this population is forecast to rise by 37% to 1720.

Knight Frank head of residential research for Australia, Michelle Ciesielski said: "This growth in Australia's ultra-wealthy population can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, we've seen significant growth in prime property prices. Secondly, despite recent instability, the equities market has also seen gains over the past year."

Globally, ultra-wealthy population trends between 2012 and 2017 were mixed.

North America (+31%), Asia (+37%) and Europe (+10%) experienced the strongest UHNWIs growth. Latin America and the Caribbean (-22%), and Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (-37%), reported a dwindling UHNWI population.

Read more: UHNWIHNWIKnight FrankHigh-net-worth individualsHead of Residential for AustraliaHenley Passport IndexMichelle CiesielskiSarah Harding
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