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UK set to lose thousands of millionaires as rich vote with their feet and move overseas

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE. Copyright Canva.
Copyright Canva.
By Eleanor Butler
Published on Updated
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The UAE remains the world's leading millionaire magnet, while China and the UK are set to see mass exoduses.

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The United Arab Emirates has emerged as this year's top destination for attracting the most millionaires, according to a report from Henley Private Wealth Management into millionaire migration trends for 2024.

The nation's zero rate of income tax, along with its luxury lifestyle and golden visa programme, is set to attract 6,700 new millionaires this year alone.

While the number of Russians moving to the UAE has slowed recently, this has partially been offset by an increasing number of European and British immigrants.

The number of millionaires living in the UAE's largest city, Dubai, has risen by 78% over the past decade, Henley's report revealed.

Arriving in second and third place in Henley's rankings, although far below the UAE, are the USA and Singapore, projected to attract net inflows of 3,800 and 3,500 millionaires this year, respectively.

A number of European countries also appear within the top 10 ranking. Italy arrives in 6th place, followed in descending order by Switzerland, Greece and Portugal.

"An unprecedented 128,000 millionaires are expected to relocate worldwide this year, eclipsing the previous record of 120,000 set in 2023," said Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners.

"As the world grapples with a perfect storm of geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval, millionaires are voting with their feet in record numbers."

UK and China wave goodbye to millionaires

Henley's report shows that China is set to lose the most millionaires in 2024, with a net outflow of 15,200.

Popular destinations for millionaires leaving China traditionally include Singapore, the USA, and Canada, with Japan a new destination to watch.

Next on the outflow ranking is the UK, projected to see an exodus of 9,500 millionaires, more than double the total that left in 2023.

The UK, and London in particular, has traditionally been a magnet for wealthy families from mainland Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. 

That said, this trend began to change during the politically turbulent six-year period post-Brexit, when the UK lost a total of 16,500 millionaires.

"The writing was on the wall well before Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, sought to take the wind from the sails of the Labour opposition by announcing in March that he would be scrapping Britain's 225-year-old non-dom tax regime, which allows those with extensive wealth overseas not to be taxed on it in the UK," said Alec Marsh, Contributing Editor at Spear's Magazine.

"It was a red flag for the global wealthy elite, who saw Britain's right-of-centre party suddenly prepared to play fast and loose with the established rules affecting them for short-term political gain."

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Following the UK in Henley's ranking is India, with this year's projected net outflow at 4,300, a lower figure than last year's total of 5,100.

Other nations on the list include Brazil, Vietnam, South Africa, and Nigeria.

According to Henley, millionaires saying goodbye to these countries are often departing in search of better infrastructure, such as healthcare and education services.

Other pull factors include work and business opportunities, as well as broader lifestyle factors such as climate and retirement rules.

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Why should we care?

The migration of millionaires can affect the wider economic health of a country as it can result in lower tax revenues, thereby constraining government budgets.

Added to this, a significant proportion of high-net-worth individuals are entrepreneurs, meaning that their presence can provide a boost to countries in terms of innovation, services, and job creation.

"By attracting wealthy residents and their capital, key sectors such as real estate, renewable energy, technology, and tourism tend to flourish," said Dominic Volek.

"An influx of investment and skilled individuals can significantly contribute to the region's economic transformation."

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Even so, a high density of millionaires can drive up the overall cost of living, meaning that lower-income individuals are forced to leave certain areas.

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