According to a report by Merrill Lynch and Gemini Consulting, ultra-high net worth individuals now number 50% more than they did three years ago. During 1999 alone, the “million dollar club” welcomed more than one million new members worldwide, taking the total to seven million, with combined assets of $25,500 billion. By the year 2004, this new class of globe-trotting super rich is expected to have amassed financial assets totalling $44,900 billion.

Factors contributing to the rise in fortunes include real GDP expansion across the globe, the global stock market growth, the rush of technology stock market launches, the record number of family businesses coming on the market; and the increasing use of stock options as part of executive compensation packages.

Private banks and other wealth management institutions are being forced to rethink strategies for attracting the fast expanding elite.