According to a new study out of Boston Consulting Group, the world added 2.6 million millionaire households in 2013, an increase of 19%. The study doesn't even take into account property and other illiquid assets when crunching the numbers, so perhaps it's not a huge surprise that, as the S&P 500 grew 30% last year, millionaires flourished.
"The stock market was very good to millionaires in 2013," says Yahoo Finance's Lauren Lyster. "That's what drove the gains to the greatest extent." Still, it's not just about a good year for U.S. investors. True, the U.S. had the highest number of new millionaires — 1.1 million new millionaire households for a grand total of 7.135 million — but a similar story played out elsewhere around the globe, too.
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"Global wealth [grew] 14.6% [in 2013]," Lyster points out, adding, "that was almost double the rate of 2012."
The report also outlines where the millionaire population density is the highest. It was no surprise that the top three countries are Qatar (oil wealth), Switzerland (favorable banking regulations) and Singapore.
"Singapore has done a lot to attract wealthy folks," Lyster says. "They have low tax rates, they instead tax the uber rich ... Property taxes are higher and really they've done a lot to make that a vibrant economy. Despite the fact that it's a really wealthy country, they have manufacturing and it's strong, they have a strong service sector. They're kind of the Switzerland of Asia."
So if you have your sights set on joining the millionaire club, Singapore may be a good option ... but use caution.
"Though it may be one of the easier places to become a millionaire," Lyster notes, "if you have an immigration infraction or you get caught vandalizing, they still dole out corporal punishment for these things."