***World Wealth Report 2004* shows worldwide wealth of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) rose 7.7% — *rebound to pre-recession levels***

Merrill Lynch and CAPGemini have released the 8th *World Wealth Report*, indicating sharp increases in wealthy North American and Asian investors. Europe, Middle East and Latin America also saw increases last year, but lagged in wealth growth.

HNWIs are people with financial assets of at least U.S. $1million, excluding home real estate. There are currently 29 million high-net worth individuals globally, according to this year’s study. The trend for continued increases in worldwide wealth is expected to continue, with the *World Wealth Report* predicting HNWI financial wealth to grow by 7% per annum and to exceed $40 trillion by 2008.

*”As in previous years, high-net-worth individuals were quick to respond to global trends affecting their ability to preserve and grow wealth. They benefited from a strong stock market rally and solid, global economic growth. In particular, wealthy investors in the U.S., China and India were able to capitalize on these trends despite a great deal of geopolitical uncertainty,”* said James Gorman, president of Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client group.

**Bahamas PWM Initiatives**

In a press conference on her recent return from a European Briefing Visit, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Minister of Financial Services and Investments, pointed to this growth, nothing that The Bahamas enjoys regional leadership in private wealth management services. She said this has been in large part due to the focus on providing high quality services to high net worth individuals.

This point was reinforced in the Minister’s 2004-5 Budget Communication, when she pointed to the recent package of legislation, indicating that this was essential to ensure that The Bahamas remains at the cutting edge of the financial services sector. She said, *”The Bahamas has significant comparative advantage in the private wealth management sector, and the current transition reflects a fundamental shift in the private banking business as we distance ourselves from low-cost jurisdictions. We are not seeking to be a bottom feeder in the private banking business; our aim is to be perceived as absolutely mainstream.”*