There’s a wealth gap even between millionaires, and it says a lot about growing inequality

millionaires
The wealth gap even at the top shows just how bad wealth inequality is overall.

  • There’s a wealth gap among very high net worth individuals, per a new Wealth-X report.
  • Those worth $15 million to $30 million make up just 16% of that cohort, but account for double the wealth.
  • It shows just how concentrated wealth really is at the top, and how stark inequality is.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Even millionaires have a wealth gap.

One out of every 10 millionaires has a net worth between $5 to $30 million, which Wealth-X defines as “very high net worth” (VHNW) individuals in its annual report. But the wealth among this wealthy class is lopsided.

Two-thirds of the VHNW class (about 1.7 million people) comprise the cohort’s lowest wealth tier of $5 million to $10 million, per the report. But those in the upper two tiers – the $15 million to $20 million range and the $20 million to $30 million range – represent just 421,170 people, less than 16% of the VHNW population. And they hold twice as much wealth, or 32% of the total.

The VHNW class is collectively worth $26.8 trillion, accounting for a quarter of millionaires’ total global wealth of $105 trillion. Those worth $1 million to $5 million account for 40% of this total wealth, while those worth over $30 million account for 34%.

This means that across both the larger millionaire population and the VHNW cohort, vast amounts of wealth are held by an exclusive group.

The pandemic has widened wealth inequality

Pre-pandemic, wealth inequality was lurking underneath America’s surface. As Insider’s Andy Kiersz reported, there was a “two-track” economy: those who owned stocks, or were already firmly middle or high-income, were reaping the benefits of a booming economy. An increasing share of national income was going to the top 1%.

The pandemic has since exacerbated the economy’s uneven dynamics, reported Insider’s Juliana Kaplan. Inequality deepened with a K-shaped recovery, as the different tracks diverged.

The bottom of the K dragged downward, with lower-income individuals continuing to struggle with the economic fallout. The poor were financially vulnerable, with many on unemployment benefits or risking their health as an essential service worker. From June to November, about 7.8 million Americans fell below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, higher-income Americans were six times more likely to be able to work from home than lower-wage workers, according to research from the Economic Policy Institute. They were spending less and saving more, and the very richest have been growing their billions.

The wealth gap among VHNW millionaires, and millionaires overall, says a lot about the wealth gap among the rich and the poor. It shows just how concentrated wealth is at the very top.

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I got a tour of Citi’s new wealth hub in Singapore for high-net-worth clients, a 30,000-square-foot space with ‘garden pods’ for meetings. Look inside.

singapore citi wealth hub
The space features “garden pods” for meetings.

  • I toured Citi’s new wealth hub in Singapore for its high-net-worth clients.
  • It was designed to cater to clients with assets starting at 250,000 Singapore dollars, or about $186,000.
  • It felt more like an upscale lounge than a bank. It was full of trees, a free café, and “garden pods” for meetings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Global investment bank Citi has opened a 30,000-square-foot wealth hub on Singapore’s Orchard Road, the city-state’s glitzy luxury shopping thoroughfare.

singapore citi wealth hub

The Citi Wealth Hub on Orchard Road, Citi’s largest wealth hub globally, was created to cater to the bank’s Citigold and Citigold Private Clients, who must have at least 250,000 Singapore dollars ($186,000) and SG$1.5 million ($1.1 million) in investable assets respectively. 

The idea is to bring together Citi’s Singapore-based relationship managers and wealth specialists in a central location where they can advise these clients on building their wealth, according to a Citi spokesperson. 

While Citi doesn’t disclose its numbers of Citigold and Citigold Private Clients, there’s no shortage of wealthy potential clients in Singapore.

singapore

The city-state is home to 3,732 ultra-high-net-worth individuals, or individuals worth at least $30 million, according to Knight Frank’s 2021 Wealth Report.

In the 2021 Global Financial Centres Index that ranks global financial centers, Singapore ranked fifth overall after New York, London, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

“Citi has an enormous opportunity to serve the growing affluent segment in Singapore,” Brendan Carney, CEO of Citibank Singapore Limited and Global Consumer Banking, said in a statement announcing the opening of the wealth hub in December. 

I recently got a tour of the Citi Wealth Hub, which spans 30,000 square feet across four floors. The seventh floor is dedicated to the Citigold Centre for Citigold clients, who must have at least SG$250,000 ($186,000) in assets.

singapore citi wealth hub

Clients are greeted by a sleek reception area with fresh flowers. Like everywhere else in Singapore right now, everyone is required to check in with contact tracing app Trace Together.

The Citigold Centre is a large glass-walled atrium with meeting pods, a cafe, and an abundance of greenery.

Singapore citi wealth hub

Ministry of Design, the interior design firm responsible for the space’s biophilic design, refers to the atrium as a “Banking Conservatory.”

It certainly didn’t feel like any bank I’d been in before.

singapore citi wealth hub

Instead of tellers or conventional meeting rooms, there are “garden pods” where clients can meet with their wealth managers.

Each pod is set up with a round table, four chairs, and a screen where a relationship manager can advise the client using a larger screen instead of a laptop or tablet.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

A free cafe serves Lavazza coffee, TWG tea, and chocolate bon bons from local pastry chef Janice Wong.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

And there are other nooks throughout where clients can meet with their relationship manager or just lounge with a coffee.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

The most exclusive part of the wealth club is the Citigold Private Client Centre on the eighth floor.

singapore citi wealth hub

To become a Citigold Private Client, you must have investable assets of at least SG$1.5 million, or about $1.1 million. 

These clients gain access not only to the wealth hub in Singapore, but to a dedicated relationship manager who consults with a team of specialists, including portfolio counselors and mortgage specialists, to best advise the clients.

The Citigold Private Client Centre is a smaller, intimate space, filled with small meeting nooks – and still plenty of greenery.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

From this area, Citigold Private Client members can order something from the cafe with one of the staff and have it delivered to them.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

The wealth hub has 30 client advisory rooms that are named after national trees and flowers of countries where Citi has a presence.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

The Citi employees who work at the wealth hub occupy the sixth floor.

singapore citi wealth hub

Plastic dividers separate individual workspaces in the plant-filled office.

The wealth hub can house more than 300 relationship managers and wealth specialists, but in Singapore, only 75% of a company’s employees are currently allowed to be in the office at one time.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: The Straits Times

My tour of the Citi Wealth Hub made it clear that the luxe space was designed for a world where in-person meetings and events were the norm.

singapore citi wealth hub

During my tour, the Citi spokesperson emphasized that the wealth hub was meant to bring clients together with their relationship managers and wealth specialist for in-person rather than online meetings.

The initial plan was also to hold seminars and talks with business leaders, according to the Citi spokesperson. Right now, the only events are online.

In the pandemic, people have grown more accustomed than ever to virtual meetings, and in-person events have become much more limited.

Still, Singapore is likely closer to a return to in-person normalcy than most other countries, as the city-state has contained the virus and reported only 30 deaths throughout the pandemic.

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