Reports

    Are China's millionaires packing their bags?

    Luxury brands should invest in engaging China's growing ranks of high-net-worth individuals who are moving abroad and migrating their wealth.
    Luxury brands should invest in engaging China's growing ranks of high-net-worth individuals who are moving abroad and migrating their wealth. Photo: Bulgari Hotels
    Glyn Atwal
    Glyn AtwalContributor
      Published   in Lifestyle

    What happened

    China's millionaires are on the move.

    According to the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023, 10,800 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) migrated from China in 2022, the biggest net outflow since 2013. This trend is set to accelerate with a net outflow of 13,500 HNWIs forecast for 2023.

    So, where's everyone going? Singapore, Canada, the US, Australia, the UK, the UAE, and Europe are popular relocation destinations.

    The Jing Take

    This exodus may only represent a fraction of the millionaire population, but Andrew Amoils, Head of Research at New World Wealth, notes, “The luxury sector will be negatively affected, especially high value sectors such as luxury hotels, top-end restaurants, prime property, private banking, family offices, hedge funds, private equity and wealth management.”

    Many sectors are indeed visibly changing. The divestment of big-league investment banks like UBS and Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley in the Asia Pacific region could be an early indicator of a shift in financial activity, according to press reports.

    Conversely, countries that are reporting HNWI inflows will be an increasingly attractive destination for luxury market activity. For example, Henley & Partners forecasts that the net HNWI inflow to the UAE will reach 5,200 this year (vs. 1,500 to the US), which probably explains why real estate company Savills reported this month that “the hottest of hotspots for branded residences is Dubai."

    British real estate company Savills named Dubai the "hottest of hotspots for branded residences" in 2023. Photo: Four Seasons Private Residences Dubai
    British real estate company Savills named Dubai the "hottest of hotspots for branded residences" in 2023. Photo: Four Seasons Private Residences Dubai

    What's sparking this wealth migration? It could be lifestyle upgrades, fresh business landscapes, government crackdowns, or just plain old financial jitters. But whatever the reason, it’s clear that China’s wealthy are reassessing both their personal and financial priorities.

    If the exodus of Chinese HNWIs continues, luxury players need to plan for the future. According to Kelcie Sellers, associate at Savills World Research, the global distribution of branded residences continues to expand. “Brands are very aware of where their buyer bases are and where they are growing in the near term, and will follow them to these locations, whether that is to sunny, snowy, or city destinations,” she says.

    The "Chinese dream" may be turning into a "Chinese daydream," one where the wealthy wake up somewhere else, or at least have the option to. This will mean that brands will need to invest more in engaging the Chinese HNW diaspora around the world to learn and connect off home turf with this growing, and very wealthy, consumer demographic.

    Glyn Atwal is an associate professor at Burgundy School of Business. He is co-author of ‘Luxury Brands in China and India’ (Palgrave Macmillan).

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.


    • In 2022, China experienced a significant net outflow of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), with 10,800 millionaires migrating abroad, marking the largest exodus since 2013, and this trend is expected to increase in 2023.
    • Popular destinations for these migrating Chinese HNWIs include Singapore, Canada, the US, Australia, the UK, the UAE, and Europe, indicating a shift in luxury market activity towards these regions.
    • This migration of wealth could have a notable impact on China's luxury sector and financial markets, with potential negative effects on luxury hotels, prime properties, and financial services, while countries gaining HNWIs may see a boost in their luxury markets.
    • Factors driving this wealth migration range from seeking lifestyle upgrades and new business opportunities to reacting to government crackdowns and financial concerns, highlighting a reassessment of personal and financial priorities among China's wealthy.
    • As the trend of Chinese HNWIs relocating continues, luxury brands will need to adapt by engaging the Chinese HNW diaspora globally, understanding their evolving preferences, and tailoring their strategies to connect with this affluent and mobile consumer group.
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