By 2018, Malaysia will have more billionaires compared with the United Arab Emirates, emerging as an economic powerhouse over the next few years.
There will be 20 billionaires in Malaysia by 2018 compared with 19 in the UAE, according to a new white paper from London-based Wealthinsight Intelligence Centre published this month.
Malaysia's billionaire growth has been large
Wealthinsight analyst Tom Carlisle said: "With a population of only 28.3 million, Malaysia has a similar number of millionaires than much more densely populated countries such as Indonesia, whose population stands at 237.6 million. This demonstrates the big potential for billionaire growth in Malaysia. Malaysia's billionaire growth has been large; with €37bn in 2013. Malaysian billionaires have 209% more wealth than the entire millionaire population of Paraguay."
The Malaysian economy has been relatively stable during the financial crisis, resulting in a rise in the number of high-net-worth-individuals (HNWI), rising by 45.5% to 26,015 from 2009 to 2013.
"Growth like this is very hard to maintain but the high rising level of new wealth and investment in Malaysia and neighbouring countries means further growth will be seen. Malaysian HNWIs are currently investing 54% of their overseas portfolio in the Asia-Pacific," added Carlisle.
For some years Malaysia has been an Islamic banking hub, since when the nation has seen a surge in investment to its shores, increasing by 52.6% since 2008 to €9.3bn.
The Islamic banking sector in Malaysia has been positively influenced by the government, particularly through infrastructure projects and increased spending on education. Investments over the next five years are expected to provide Islamic banks the opportunity to employ homegrown talent and provide high quality service to HNWI clients.
Malaysia saw a significant increase in foreign direct investment
HNWI growth could be increased further through investing significantly in infrastructure and offering tax incentives to foreign businesses to invest more in the country.
Carlisle commented: "Malaysia saw a significant increase in foreign direct investment and higher levels of activity in the local stock market, performing better than the global average between 2009 and 2013."
Developments to the infrastructure will continue to attract foreign investment and ultimately, positively impact Malaysia's property market. The next five years will provide key opportunities for solid returns on savvy property investments.