…to the very very rich, that is.

According to international real estate firm Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report, London is more attractive to ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) – people with at least US$30 million of investable assets – than any other city in the world, even New York, in fact.

The Wealth Report ranks the cities on its list based where the world’s super-rich people live, invest, educate their children, grow their business, network and spend leisure time. It’s basically an analsysis of wealth flow and property investment around the world.

On all counts, for many years now, London and New York have competed head-to-head in the rankings. No other city comes close in terms of these two cities’ appeal, but this year, London has managed to nab the top spot for the second year in a row to win the title of ‘Most Important City in the World‘.

It’s interesting to note that although New York has more high net worth individuals (5,600) compared to London (4,900), the British city is still preferred over the Big Apple, as it has the geographical benefit of being in close proximity to Europe and providing easy access to both Asia and North America. (Within a 2-hour flight, London is accessible to more than 16,000 UHNWIs, compared to only 8,300 in New York.) Historically, it likewise has an edge over New York, as London has been a trading centre for millennia and New York is relatively ‘young’ in comparison. The prime property market in London has also been showing growth since September last year, making it an attractive place for ultra-high-net-worth individuals to put their money.

Image from citysocializer blog

Image from citysocializer blog

List of the most important cities in the world (2016):

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Singapore
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Dubai
  6. Shanghai
  7. Paris
  8. Sydney
  9. Beijing
  10. Geneva

Liam Bailey, head of research at Knight Frank said: Our survey results confirm that London and New York’s positions at the top of our survey results look invincible for the immediate future due to their and long-established lead over other cities. However, further down the leader board the main battleground is Asia, where our respondents predict that Shanghai will eclipse Hong Kong’s position, in terms of its importance to the wealthy over the next ten years.”

Nearly 70% of European respondents felt that no other city could come close to London or New York, with 50% of North Americans surveyed also feeling the same way. In contrast, 70% of Asian respondents believed that another city could overtake either London or New York in the next few years. China, perhaps? The world’s second largest economy (after ths US) has come a long way in the past decade, and despite its recent slowdown, remains an undeniable powerhouse that is set to grow bigger by the year. Nevertheless, a look at the list will show that if a challenger emerges, it would almost certainly be from Asia, and opinions seem to be fairly evenly divided between Singapore and Shanghai.

On one hand, you have Singapore, a small but powerful island nation that is one of the richest (and now the most expensive) in the world with very high standards of living. Its role as Asia’s top business hub, a stepping stone to the rest of Asia and excellent flight connections to the West make it a strong contender. On the other hand, there’s Shanghai – the largest Chinese city by population and the largest city proper by population in the world. It’s a thriving metropolis that shows no signs of slowing down (there’s Shanghai Tower and Shanghai Disneyland, just to name a few).

Nevertheless, it may be a while yet before an Asian country takes the number one spot. The report points out that there is no direct correlation between the locations where the wealthy reside and the locations regarded as being most important to them. As long as these UHNWIs continue to send their children overseas to further their studies, and commute between offices in different international locations, London and New York will continue to vie for the title of the most important city in the world.

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