Although someone with $10 million dollars might seem very wealthy, only those with $30 million or more in investable assets are categorized as ultra-high-net-worth individuals. According to the 2018 World Ultra Wealth Report, the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals has grown to 255,810 and together they own over $31.5 trillion. Half of these extremely wealthy people reside in North America, the vast majority of whom call the U.S. home.
The United States’ UHNW population grew by 9.5% overall in 2017, and their net worth grew by 13.1%. American UHNW individuals worth more than $500 million numbered 1,830, or 28% of the global population of half-millionaires.
Unsurprisingly, America's wealthiest are primarily concentrated in big cities or major metropolitan areas. Only four of the 50 states – California, Texas, Florida and Missouri – have more than one city with substantial UHNW populations.
New York may lag behind California in terms of its state ranking but New York City boasts the largest UHNW population of any city in the United States – as well as the world – with 8,655 UHNW individuals.
Here are the five U.S. cities with the most UHNW individuals:
- New York City: 8,865
- Los Angeles: 5,250
- Chicago: 3,255
- San Francisco: 2820
- Washington, D.C.: 2,735
States With the Wealthiest Americans
While California can lay claim to having the most UHNW individuals, it can't do the same for the wealthiest Americans. In fact, according to the 2018 Forbes 400 list, the two wealthiest U.S. citizens live in Washington State: Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is $160 billion, and Bill Gates, with $97 billion. Number three on the list is Warren Buffet in Nebraska with $88.3 billion. California claims spots four, five and six with Mark Zuckerberg ($61 billion), Larry Ellison ($58.4 billion) and Larry Page ($53.8 billion).
The other four top-10 spots are occupied by two residents of New York, one in Kansas and one more in California.
The United States is home to 680 billionaires, including 60 new individuals added in 2017. This means a country with only 4% of the world's population lays claim to 25% of billionaires. Combined, their net worth is $3.2 trillion. Billionaire families in the U.S. have earned their fortunes in a variety of ways, including owning wineries, oil companies, grocery store chains, banks, investment firms, alcoholic beverage companies, chemical manufacturers, and candy empires. What do these extremely wealthy people do with their fortunes? Many of them support causes that are meaningful to them or start their own charities. For example, the Mars family, which is worth over $89 billion, started the Mars Foundation, which supports environmental, educational and health-related causes.
The Bottom Line
California has the highest population of UHNW individuals than any other state in the U.S. followed by New York. Overall the United States’ UHNW population grew by 9.5% in 2017. Individuals worth more than $500 million, meanwhile, grew faster than all other UHNW wealth tiers. If you're a financial advisor keen to add such clients to your practice, you now know where the money is.