Key Highlights

  • Very high net worth (VHNW) individuals defined by net worth of $5M – $30M
  • VHNW cohort is wide variety of people from entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate executive, retirees and inheritors

2020 a Good Year for Very High Net Worth Individuals

According to the Wealth-X Very High Net Worth Handbook 2021, 2020 was a good year for the group of VHNW people whose net worth is defined by Wealth-X as $5M – $30M.

(Ultra High Net Worth – UHNW – is defined as those with a net worth of $30M+.)

The Wealth-X Handbook indicates there were 25.6M global millionaires (those with a net worth of $1M+) in 2020. VHNW individuals comprise just over 25% of global millionaire wealth while UHNW individuals account for just 1.1% of the global millionaire population.  Two-thirds of the VHNW cohort have a net worth of $5M – $10M.

Demographics of Very High Net Worth Individuals

  • VHNW Population Increased Nearly 8% in 2020 whereas Global Population Increase saw a gain of +1.3% or 2.7M.
  • Global Wealth Increase saw gain of $26.8T, an Increase of +1.2%
  • North America and Asia Best Performing regions
  • Top Performing Countries
    • US
    • China
    • Japan
    • South Korea

North America Became World’s Leading VHNW Region in 2020

North America became the world’s leading VHNW region in 2020. The number of VHNW in North America increased by +7% from 2019 to 1.1M.  This represents a global share of 41.5% VHNW individuals.

Equity markets in North America were the wealth creators and drivers. Wealth-X also extends its credits for generating more wealth for more people to the US Federal Reserve along with the government’s extensive fiscal stimulus measures via the CARES Act and additional stimulus programs into 2021.

US Dominant Location for Global VHNW Population

The US has more than 1M VHNW individuals, a total in the US that outnumbers the combined total of the other nine countries.  Its VHNW population grew by nearly +8%.

Seven of the top 10 VHNW cities in 2021 were in the US.  New York extended its lead over second-place Tokyo as the “pre-eminent city of the wealthy.”

San Jose CA has, by far, the highest density of VHNW individuals among its general population of just 2M people.  San Jose’s ratio of VHNW individuals to the general population is 1:66. San Francisco isn’t far behind at number two followed by Basel, Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland.

Population Growth Rate of Top VHNW Cities in US in 2020

  • New York – 121,610 more people – +9.3% more VHNW people
  • Los Angeles – 67,265 – +9.8%
  • Chicago – 43,325 – +10.8%
  • San Francisco – 42,720 – +11.0%
  • Washington DC – 37,150 – +13.0%
  • Boston – 33,210 – +12.7%
  • Dallas – 32,715 – +12.6%

Top 10 Cities by VHNW Density in 2020

  • San Jose – 66
  • Basel – 107
  • San Francisco – 111
  • Geneva – 122
  • Hong Kong – 123
  • Zurich – 128
  • Seattle – 141
  • Boston – 147
  • New York – 164
  • Washington DC – 170

5-Year Outlook


During the five years between 2015 and 2020, the global VHNW population and collective net worth expanded on an average +5%.  This expansion outperformed the world GDP by 2X.

Wealth-X experts expect that the VHNW population and collective net worth to grow even more to 3.8M individuals (+1.2M compared to 2020) and $38.2T (+$11.4T from 2020)

Profiling Current VHNW Individuals

Very High Net Wealth individuals have, on the whole, created their own wealth as self-made individuals without inherited wealth.  83.7% of VHNW individuals are self-made while 11.6% are both self-made and have inherited wealth.  71.9% of Ultra High Net Wealth individuals are self-made while 20.3% are both self-made and have inherited wealth.

VHNW individuals are predominantly Caucasian male…84.0%.  UHNW individuals are predominantly white male…89.8%. Individuals with net worth of $1M – $5M are 80.8% white male and 19.2% Caucasian female.

Because it takes time to create and accumulate wealth, 60.7% of VHNW individuals are between the ages of 50 – 70 years old.


Thanks to Wealth-X.

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