The world’s ultra wealthy population – those with $30 million or more in net worth – posted only modest growth in 2018, according to the seventh and latest edition of the Wealth-X World Ultra Wealth Report. The demographic grew by 0.8%, or nearly 265,500 individual, a subdued increase on the heels of significant growth a year earlier, when the population jumped more than 12%.
UHNW Wealth Slumps for the First Time in Three Years
The combined net worth of the UHNW population saw a decrease for the first time in three years, falling by 1.7% in 2018 to $32.3 trillion, implying a modest drop in the average net worth of the UHNW class, in part due to a late-year slump in investor sentiment and global equity markets.
Despite these findings, the World Ultra Wealth Report 2019 forecasts robust growth for the UHNW population, with a projected population increase to 353,550 individuals possessing a total combined wealth of $43 trillion by 2023.
Further findings from the report include:
All Seven Regions of the Globe Experienced a Drop
Regional declines ranged from a marginal dip in the Middle East to a drop of 7% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Net worth in Asia fell at a faster rate than in both North America and Europe.
Population Growth Varied Significantly across Regions
There was robust growth in the UHNW populations of the Middle East, alongside a modest expansion of ultra wealthy numbers in North America and Europe. The other four regions posted falls in population, led by a 6% drop in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The U.S. Continues to Lead in UHNW Population
The leading country for UHNW individuals in 2018, the United States accounts for a 31% global share. This compared with 9% for second-placed China, and nearly 7% for third-placed Japan.
New York Regained Its Status as the World’s Leading UHNW City from Hong Kong
In 2018 the top 10 UHNW cities accounted for 18.9% of the global ultra wealthy population. Modest ultra wealthy growth in New York was sufficient for it to regain the top spot as Hong Kong wealthy were impacted by the slump in Asian stocks and a softening Chinese economy.
Hong Kong Has by Far the Highest Density of Ultra Wealthy Individuals
At 1,364 for every million adults, Hong Kong’s UHNW population density was considerably higher than the next-ranked countries of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore – all established financial- services hubs – and more than four times the density of the US.
Women Make Up a Larger Portion of the Global Ultra Wealthy Population than Ever Before
The number of ultra wealthy women increased to nearly 39,000, equivalent to a record- high share of 14.6%. Among UHNW individuals below the age of 50, women account for almost one in five.
In addition to revealing a global view of the status and trends of the ultra wealthy, the World Ultra Wealth Report 2019 also examines the population based on their asset holdings, gender, industry focus, wealth source, and hobbies. From this insight, the report reveals ultra wealthy archetypes across three main age groups – under 50 years old, 50-70 years old, and over 70 years old.
The World Ultra Wealth Report 2019 leverages the proprietary information in Wealth-X’s Global Database of records on wealthy individuals, the largest of its kind in the world.
The global yachting industry is in a state of transformation, influenced by five major trends: eco-consciousness, interiors inspired by the outdoors, the Internet of Things (IoT), yacht management and adventure travel. Wealth-X looked to the expertise of Raphael Sauleau, CEO of Fraser Yachts (chartering, crew recruitment, sales and management of yachts, superyachts and megayachts) and Michele Gavino, CEO of Baglietto (the historic Italian yacht builder) to dissect these key industry movements.
The luxury yacht market has entered the era of eco-consciousness. According to Gavino, the International Maritime Organization has directed the maritime industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 from 2008’s levels. As a result, builders and suppliers are working together to find sustainable solutions to reduce consumption at reasonable costs. The cooperation with suppliers is essential, says Gavino. “They have the expertise and the possibility to develop new systems and technology that we can offer to our clients.”
Many HNW and UHNW yacht owners are putting environmental impact first, spurring significant change in yacht building and innovation. New propulsion systems burn less fuel, hybrid yacht batteries motorize yachts for hours of fuelless transportation – even paint is assisting the cause, as new environmentally sustainable epoxies are safe for marine life and help vessels reach the same speeds at lower levels of fuel consumption.
Yacht charterers are also showing concern over environmental impact. Many charterers inquire about crew members’ impact on the sea, recycling initiatives, the use of plastics aboard ships and more.
“All sectors of yachting are involved [in sustainability initiatives], from the paint manufacturer to the engine supplier. Innovative projects are multiplying and are not only capturing the attention of owners but also of equipment manufacturers, and projects with smaller environmental footprints are going one step further. There is still a lot of room for innovation in the luxury yacht market and it is enough to visit dedicated trade shows to find the technologies of tomorrow for hybrid propulsion or energy storage systems. [There is] no doubt that our industry will be one of the leaders soon,” Sauleau explained.
Interiors Inspired by the Outdoors
Open spaces, pool decks and 360° views of the sea are popular design items that reflect a rising trend of taking inspiration from the outdoors. According to Sauleau, consumers from the highest tiers of wealth are beginning to look for yachts that offer the feeling of being outdoors while indoors, requiring yachts to have more light, vertical bows that allow for larger interiors and modern exterior lines, and beach clubs.
“One of the new features that all the builders are developing is a new concept of the beach area, not any more closed in a space that was used once as a garage, but definitely open in sort of a sundeck on the water with an enjoyable pool. This solution has been introduced [beginning with] small vessels, but recently I have seen concepts up to 70m or 80m with [this] nice feature,” shared Gavino.
The Internet of Things
Advancements in technology enable yacht owners to adopt the same preferences for “smart home” gadgets on their yachts, creating a seamless transition from home to yacht and vice versa. By transferring technological at-home comforts and habits to their yachts, owners can turn their yachts into homes or offices away from home. These advancements create the infrastructure that supports ease of communication and new ways of securing crew and vessel. Sauleau credits the industry’s ample resources for making it possible to “cultivate and sustain innovations that would remain mostly accessible only to firm sectors such as aviation or even defense”, explaining that the most significant areas of growth typically occur within the realms of security and communication.
Yacht management improves efficiency and decreases operational costs through efforts spanning everything from HR management to the implementation of new technology to burn less fuel. Yacht owners are seeking management in greater numbers than ever before due to increased regulations and the rise of ever-larger yachts.
For instance, Fraser Yachts increased its yacht management fleet by nearly fifty percent over the past two years. “[Taking management] concerns off of [the hands of captains, crew members, owners and charterers] allows you to save money for provisioning, for technical supplies and to make sure the crew rotation is optimized,” says Sauleau. “The winning formula is not just to be more efficient financially but to keep your yacht in its best state. Because one day when you’re ready to sell it, [you] need to make sure it’s still in great condition to be sold,” Sauleau shared.
Changing demographics among HNW and UHNW individuals have ushered in a new and exciting demand for explorer yachts and adventure travel excursions. The next generation of wealthy individuals are requesting exploration yachting to destinations other than the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. “They don’t necessarily want to be in a place where you have a restaurant and a beach in every port,” says Sauleau. “[Instead, they want to] explore new environments [such as] Antarctica, Scandinavia, Australia or Southeast Asia.”
This trend is impacting yacht building with the rise of explorer yachts and crossover yachts (a cross between traditional and explorer), vessels that did not exist five years ago in the luxury yacht market. Explorer yachts have all the fine amenities of traditional models in addition to stronger hulls, less outdoor space, greater storage space (larger garages, more refrigerators, and so on) and other considerations for voyages in remote areas and extreme conditions. Baglietto, for instance, recently presented an impressive Explorer-type project of 43-meter yacht designed by Santa Maria Magnolfi able to host a sportfisherman vessel.
“Exploring the beauty of the world and [the] ocean is the reason for building a boat for many owners and this is why one of the trends in yachting is the Explorer-type yacht. These are yachts that are built to travel around the world with any kind of weather and sea. These yachts are conceived to have [large interiors with room for] many toys,” says Gavino.
From the desire to “engage with the natural world”, be it through bringing the outdoors inside or exploring the planet’s seldom-charted territories, to innovative technology, the dreams and values of HNW and UHNW individuals are spurring rapid change in luxury the luxury yacht market.
Quietly tucked at the base of the
Grand Tetons, where the sharp foothills crescendo and fall into Phelps Lake and
rise again to the mouth of Death Canyon, lie the last vestiges of Jackson
Hole’s earliest dude ranch. Now more than a decade removed, the remnants of the
lodges and cabins and boat houses that once dotted this remote expanse of wilderness
have all but been erased by the cadence of the seasons, virtually imperceptible
save perhaps to those who spent summers working or visiting the once bustling JY
It’s no mistake that the only traces of this storied homestead—which at one time hosted heads of state and society’s elite—are now only a few clearings in the otherwise dense forest. No Act of God or stroke of misfortune spelled its undoing, as became many of the valley’s first horse and cattle operations. This return to nature is, in fact, a design generations in the making and the result of the largest conservation effort in the region, dating back to the early 20th Century.
To fully appreciate the achievement of this rugged, sprawling space requires stepping back in time to the pioneer days of Jackson Hole. It is a story of intrigue, of vision and foresight, and one that underscores the natural grandeur of this remarkable destination and the passions that keep it alive.
The Tribulation of Pioneers
In 1903, David Spalding, an
outdoorsman and aspiring rancher, founded a modest homestead at the foot of the
Teton Mountains. The first settlers had begun to arrive to Jackson Hole in the
mid-1880s, most attracted by the area’s natural beauty and the burgeoning
cattle trade across the West. But the valley remained largely isolated. Fur
traders had frequented the region for decades, compelled by its diversity of
wild game. But short growing seasons and rocky soil made it difficult for
ranchers to raise hay and crops to support their livestock during the harsh
Spalding, to his misfortune, had landed on one of the most challenging plots of land, despite its stunning beauty. The surrounding mountains caught eastward-moving storm formations, and, elevated above the valley floor, the location accumulated some of the area’s great snowfall. The rocky alpine terrain made cultivating pastures difficult, as did the old-growth pine and cottonwood forests that had to be cleared to give way to grazing.
After only three years of making a go at ranching the property, Spalding turned over the land to Louis Joy and his Princeton-educated business partner, Maxwell Struthers Burt. Both hailing from the East Coast, Joy and Burt saw a different opportunity in the property. At this point, word of Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone region’s natural grandeur had begun to spread. Dude ranches, which offered guests a chance to participate in Western life along with fishing, hunting and pack-tripping, had begun to crop up across the Mountain West, though not yet in Jackson Hole.
The Spalding homestead, Joy and
Burt conspired, was a chance to tap into this emerging industry and the still
largely undiscovered beauty of the region. By all accounts, the ranch provided
an ideal setting for a dude outfit: Its proximity to the Teton range allowed
access into near endless backcountry for trail rides, pack-trips and hunting.
The adjacent Phelps Lake and iconic Snake River to the east offered remarkable
trout fishing and boating. And by running cattle during the summer months, the
establishment could still offer the experience of traditional ranching activities.
In 1907, Joy and Burt opened the
gates of the JY Ranch (the brand was an abbreviation of Joy’s name). Almost
immediately, the business took off. Buoyed by Joy’s knowledge of ranching and
Burt’s wealthy connections in the East, the JY began welcoming visitors. In its
first year the ranch hosted five guests, all acquaintances of Burt, but as word
of the operation spread so too did its popularity.
Over the next several years
relations between Joy and Burt began to sour. Joy had promised his partner a
five-year option to buy half-interest in the business, but it soon became apparent
those plans were not likely to come to fruition. Frustrated, Burt severed ties
with Joy in 1911 with the intention of starting his own dude ranch in the
valley, which he did.
Bolstered by growing visitation
to nearby Yellowstone National Park, which was established by Congress and
ratified by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, the reputation of the JY Ranch
continued to spread. Keeping up with the growing operations proved to be a
formidable task, even for a veteran rancher like Joy. In 1916, Joy began
leasing his outfit to Henry S.A. Stewart, a businessman from Pittsburg.
Under Stewart’s direction, the
operation grew further. In 1920, he purchased the property from Joy and incorporated
it into his adjoining land holdings, which he contracted out to raise cattle.
Soon the JY Ranch was consistently operating at capacity—65 guests a stay,
which was a substantially larger number than the 10 to 20 visitors most dude
ranches could accommodate. The weekly $65 rate included meals, lodging, boats
and saddle horses.
Stewart proved a shrewd entrepreneur. He offered guests comforts that were unusual to the area: fresh vegetables, dairy products and beef, all locally sourced. (Despite the area’s impressive cattle herds, most ranching families subsisted on elk and deer rather than dipping into their profit-makers.) Stewart launched motor tours of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and began a general store that sold fishing licenses, camping supplies, tobacco, candy and medicine. Those conveniences soon established the JY as the area’s largest and most successful dude ranch—strong enough even to weather the Great Depression.
When the stock market collapsed in 1929, Stewart raised his rates and lowered capacity—a move that defied convention. Most dude ranches at the time were cutting costs in hopes of attracting visitors that could still afford travel. Stewart’s plan succeeded in appealing to a high-worth clientele and helped keep the business afloat through the blunt of the Depression. Even so, the economic turmoil was taking a toll and the signs of change were astir.
Controversy in Conservation
By the mid-1920s, the West had
captivated the imagination of the nation. Popularized in literature and film
and suddenly accessible by railroad, this once obscure frontier nearly
instantaneously became the premier destination for the modern traveler. Ads
appeared newspapers and magazines on both coasts, and few locations offered
such natural beauty and adventure as Wyoming.
It was around this time that
Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright invited John D. Rockefeller Jr., son
of the Standard Oil founder and one of the country’s wealthiest men, to tour the
Grand Teton area. Albright’s invitation was purposeful and well-calculated.
Concerned by the commercialization creeping into the region, he had been
working with likeminded landowners on a plan to preserve the area’s vast
natural resources. The idea hinged on persuading a conservation investor to
purchase surrounding land and donate it to the government to be incorporated
into the parks. As it turned out,
Albright’s offer would shape the future of the region and Grand Teton National
In 1926, Albright personally escorted Rockefeller around the valley and provided maps of landownership. At his behest, Rockefeller formed the Snake River Land Company, which began to surreptitiously buy up ranches, often using local agents to conceal the buyer’s identity. Many sellers thought the acquisitions were part of a plan to expand the National Elk Refuge, which had been established in 1912 to support wildlife populations.
In 1930, locals caught wind of
the plan, which divided landowners. Many supported the plan to conserve the
area’s rugged beauty. Others saw it as a landgrab hatched by the federal
government and wealthy East Coast socialites.
Senator Robert Carey, a Wyoming
Republican, told Rockefeller’s lawyer, “We are not willing to see this section
of Wyoming exploited or its citizens driven out to gratify Mr. Albright’s
ambition or to establish a monopoly for the benefit of Mr. Rockefeller’s
Despite opposition, which
included the launch of a weekly newspaper, the Grand Teton, to rail against the expansion, the Snake River Land
Co. was successful. It ultimately purchased 33,000 acres at a cost of $1.5
million—the equivalent of about $21 million today. Among the properties
purchased was the JY Ranch, which Stewart sold in 1932 for $90,000.
Initially, Rockefeller’s plan to
donate his company’s impressive land acquisitions to the government was
thwarted by Wyoming’s congressional delegation. In 1942, he wrote Interior
Secretary Harold Ickes with a threat to sell his holdings if the federal
government didn’t act. That caught the attention of President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, who in 1943 used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the Jackson
Hole National Monument.
That, too, drew blowback. In
1943, local ranchers moved a herd of more than 500 cattle across the newly
established monument, an act meant to defy the National Park Service. Shortly
after, Congress passed a law to abolish the monument, which was vetoed by
President Roosevelt. The State of Wyoming filed a motion to challenge the
Antiquities Act, but it too was dismissed.
Finally, in 1950, a compromise
was struck that exempted Wyoming from the Antiquities Act—ensuring a national
monument could only be created in the state with Congressional approval—in
return for Grand Teton National Park being expanded to incorporate the Jackson
Hole National Monument. The agreement was authorized by President Harry Truman
In 1949, when Rockefeller donated the land purchased through the Snake River Land Co. to the National Park, he withheld roughly 3,400 acres structured around the original JY Ranch. Adopting the JY brand, the private inholding—one of only a few within Grand Teton National Park—became something of a crown jewel for Rockefeller and his family, which would use the property as a private retreat for more than 70 years.
A Legacy as Big as the Mountains
Accessible only by a narrow
gravel road and bordered by an unassuming buckrail fend, the Rockefeller’s JY
Ranch lived as something of a mystery to the public. Few passed through its
impressive but discrete gates, which might be missed by the unaware passerby.
Yet, for nearly a quarter-century, this Camelot welcomed distinguished visitors
and dignitaries, all by invitation of the Rockefeller family.
Perched atop the rim of Phelps
Lake, a glacial lake formed at the base of the Tetons, the ranch painted an
impressive sight: A mess hall overlooking the lake, lodges and guest cabins,
horse stables and corrals, a private fishing pond, swimming pool, roping arena,
boat house and miles of wilderness.
Over the years this remote
retreat hosted a laundry list of eminent guests, including President and First
Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1995. But for the Rockefellers, an invitation
to the ranch wasn’t so much a status symbol as a means to share Jackson Hole’s
“The JY Ranch was an august
place, and the Rockefellers went to great lengths to maintain the land,” one
former manager explained. “Every aspect of the ranch was meant to complement
the local environment. It was obvious the family cared deeply about preserving
the heritage and serenity of Jackson Hole.”
Indeed, the passion for the area’s rugged beauty seemed to have been passed down from Rockefeller to his sons, Laurance and David, who continued to run the ranch after his death. Between 1969 and 1983, Laurance transferred approximately 2,300 acres of the JY Ranch into Grand Teton National Park. In 2001, then 91 years old, Laurance announced he would donate the remaining 1,106 acres to the National Park. The transfer was completed in 2007, which put the final private Rockefeller ownership of the ranch into public land.
Today, the more than 1,100 acres of the JY Ranch are enshrined in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, a popular destination within Grand Teton National Park. The ranch structures have been relocated, many into Park service. At the time of the transfer, Rockefeller explained that he hoped the project would offer a model for public-private partnerships to preserve the country’s open spaces.
Perhaps no other property better embodies the long history and dynamism of Jackson Hole than the JY Ranch. The valley’s culture and heritage seem to permeate the very soil. Now enshrined for generations to come, it would be hard to think of a more fitting coda to the property’s storied legacy than its return to public ownership.