Rich, filthy rich and ultra rich in the UK

LONDON | Even Ledbury Research, a specialised market intelligence agency that on Thursday released fresh data on the wealthiest few of the British society, acknowledges how tough the task of gaining access to their detailed information is. Yet, the rich hold a vast share of consumer influence and, obviously, economic power in their countries, so it is worth making the effort. What the Wealth Size report brought is a tale of social inequality at the top level, too.

During 2011, those with at least £1 million under management saw their fortune increasing by 14 percent. Those with £10 million, did so by 28 percent. And those with £100 million recorded a 43 percent growth. These are the real green shoots.

It is a story of recovery, indeed. After the explosion of the financial crisis in 2007, the number of millionaires rose by 10.7 percent, as a consequence of multi-millionaires’ troubles to maintain their status. Those whose wealth was over £50 million lost in population and asset value. According to Ledbury, in 2008 the over £100-million ultra-high net individuals suffered the most, with a 33 percent decrease in wealth.

“Most recently, we have seen a comeback in the fortunes of the existing wealthy,” Ledbury director James Lawson commented, “with those at the wealthier end of the spectrum growing much faster both in numbers and total net wealth.”

“The contrast between the top end and the lower end is further exacerbated by the fact that there wasn’t any influx of newly wealth individuals into the ranks.”

The latest developments have altered the mix of wealthy people in the UK’s society. Wealthier individuals make up a growing portion of the total, a trend the analysts expect to continue during 2012.

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