Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox
Chapter 34: The Privileged World City: Private Banking, Wealth Management and the Bespoke Servicing of the Global Super-rich
Jonathan V. Beaverstock INTRODUCTION Of all classes, the rich are the most noticed and the least studied. (John Kenneth Galbraith, 1977, p. 44) geographers . . . seem to have little to say about the contemporary super-rich, despite their evidential role in shaping the global economy. (Beaverstock et al., 2004, p. 402) The gap in understanding the super-rich is somewhat ironic given the widening disparity of world household income inequality. In 2000, about 2 per cent of the world’s adult population possessed more than 50 per cent of total global wealth, with the richest 1 per cent holding 40 per cent of all global assets (Davies et al., 2008). In the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK), on the back of the roaring bull market, a wave of neo-liberalism and muted income redistributive policies, the super-rich have swelled their numbers as never before (Thorndike, 1980; Lundberg, 1988; Haseler, 1999; Smith, 2001; Irvin, 2008). The Forbes Billionnaire and The Sunday Times Rich List have made transparent the once secretive worlds of the rich. The super-rich are now an identifiable market in their own right. Those wealthy individuals with investable assets greater than US$1 million are now termed ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ (HNWIs) and these totalled 10.1 million in 2008, with wealth approximating US$40.7 trillion (Merrill Lynch Capgemini (MLCG), 2009). Given the global market value of this segment of the population, servicing the billionaire, multi-millionaire and ‘meagre’ millionaire has become a multi-billion US$ industry. Just as world cities are...
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