Tuesday 23 January 2018

Property still barometer of wealth for our richest

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

DESPITE the devastation caused by the Irish housing bubble, Ireland's wealthiest people still show unusual fondness for property.

Barclays, which surveyed more than 2,000 of the world's highest earners, found that Ireland's rich are likely to hold 55pc of their wealth in property – more than any other country in the world.

Even though average property values have halved since 2008, this may not come as a surprise. Wealth has long been associated with property ownership in Ireland.

Statistics show that the country's population is far less disposed to renting than our western European counterparts, though this is changing.

Barclays' research also sheds interesting light on how Irish wealth was generated. Just over half of wealthy Irish people built up their funds by saving their earnings over time.

Inheritance contributed to just 19pc, the second lowest figure globally after the UK at 14pc.

Worldwide, the long-established model of inheritance, is in decline. Entrepreneurship has significantly overtaken inheritance as the main source of wealth.

When 'The Sunday Times' Rich List was first published in 1989, only 43 of the UK's richest 200 people, about a fifth, had made their fortunes themselves.

The list was a who's who of inherited wealth and aristocracy. A quarter of a century later, the picture is vastly different. In the 2013 'Sunday Times' Rich List, almost four-fifths of all entrants were self-made and a high proportion were born overseas.

In terms of how quickly wealth is accumulated, Ireland's wealthiest lag behind their international counterparts.

About half of the Irish people surveyed said it took over 30 years to accumulate the majority of their wealth, compared with 35pc globally.

Just over a tenth said they built up the majority of their wealth in less than 10 years while 4pc said it came from a single event. Worldwide, technology is the sector in which wealth creation can happen most quickly.

How Ireland's wealthiest pass on their money also contradicts global trends. In the aftermath of the recession, more of the world's wealthiest are opting to give money to family, friends and charitable causes during their lifetime rather than as an inheritance.

"Those who have made their money through business in more developed markets would prefer the next generation to carve out their own path, rather than disrupt the entrepreneurial cycle and discourage the entrepreneurial spirit by simply having wealth handed down to them," says Barclays Ireland head of wealth Pat McCormack.

Yet the richest in Irish society are still fond of leaving the bulk of their wealth aside to be inherited.

While a tenth plan to give away all of their wealth during their lifetime, 36pc plan to pass it on as an inheritance – one of the highest figures globally.

Irish Independent

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