Treasure asset investment forms 16.6% of Chinese HNWIs' wealth

The new wealth of China is having a profound impact on the shape of the "treasure assets" investment market, new figures reveal.

According to Barclays' freshly published Wealth Insights report, collectibles such as art, wine, stamps and jewellery make up 16.6% of Chinese high-net worth individuals' wealth.

The figures will come as no surprise to those who follow the Chinese and Hong Kong auctions closely, where records are continually being broken across a range of asset classes.

Li Keran Wan Shan Hong Bian
Chinese artists such as Li Keran are dominating the art market

China's booming economy has spawned a huge number of millionaires in the country, and they are keen to display their wealth, as Daniel Egan, a behavioural finance specialist for Barclays, explains.

"Social motivation is particularly strong in key emerging markets, which may suggest that, in countries where there are large numbers of newly wealthy, there is a propensity to demonstrate this wealth through treasure as a signal about status," he said.

The 16.6% figure was matched in Brazil and Singapore, two countries where new wealth is also a factor, standing far above the 10% global average. The UAE leads the way, with 18% of investors' net worth placed in collectibles.

And what is all this new money buying? The overwhelming leader is precious jewellery, with 70% of the 2,000 global respondents confirming they have invested in this asset class. Fine art (49%) and antiques (37%) also have key roles to play in investors' portfolios.

The research suggests that those looking to enjoy financial gain from the collectibles market would do well to focus on pieces that are of considerable interest to these new millionaires.

A major repatriation of Chinese artworks is currently taking place, for example. China's share of global art sales rose to 30% last year, up from 23% in 2010, a European Fine Art Foundation report has found. China overtook the US as the world's largest art market in the process.

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