Stuart Wakeling, Managing Partner at Henley & Partners and Head of the firm’s London and Nigeria offices, explains why High Net Worth Individuals are increasingly interested in investment migration – and how the asset thresholds entailed might not be as high as one might think.
Millionaire migration is back on the rise after a short lull during the pandemic when the movement and tracking of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) were impeded. Today, rising numbers of affluent investors from across the globe are looking to residence and citizenship by investment programmes to unlock global access, diversify their domicile portfolios, and protect their lifestyles, wealth, and legacies.
While we cannot choose the country we are born in or the passport that results, those with the financial means are tapping into the many benefits of investment migration. These include having a Plan B should you need to move in future, improving your travel freedom by obtaining a stronger passport, and investing in an international real estate asset with multiple yields, one of which is permanent residence in a new country.
Historically, most of my clients have not necessarily moved, instead utilising investment migration as a form of insurance policy, but persistent turmoil has caused a shift, and more investors are considering relocating their families
Historically, most of my clients have not necessarily moved, instead utilising investment migration as a form of insurance policy, but persistent turmoil has caused a shift, and more investors are considering relocating their families. Relocation can be a solution to a range of requirements, from improved safety and security to access to world-class education and premium healthcare to better climate resilience and more crypto-friendly jurisdictions. In times of volatility, even holders of traditionally strong passports that rank highly on the Henley Passport Index due to their visa-free travel access, such as the UK and the USA, are realising the value of optionality that comes with securing alternative residence or citizenship.
Millionaire migration set to exceed pre-pandemic levels
After several years of unrelenting volatility, all indications are that HNWIs are once again on the move, in increasing numbers. Pandemic years aside, there has been a steady growth in millionaire migration over the past decade. The recently released Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023, which tracks wealth and investment migration trends, revealed the global HNWI migration figures for 2023 and 2024 are expected to be 122,000 and 128,000, respectively. The previous peak was in 2019 when 110,000 individuals with investable wealth of USD 1 million or more moved to a new country and stayed longer than six months.
Looking at countries and territories with net inflows or outflows of 100 or more HNWIs (namely, the difference between the number of millionaires who relocated to and who emigrated away from a particular country during a given year) forecast in 2023, China is due to see the largest net loss globally (13,500), as it has for the past decade in steadily increasing numbers, followed by India (6,500). The UK, once a prime inbound destination for the world’s wealthy, has crept into the Top 3 countries expected to see the biggest net millionaire outflows, with 3,200 expected. This is double last year’s net exit figure and even higher than the projected 3,000 net loss on the cards for Russia. The UK first saw a net outflow in 2017 following the Brexit referendum.
The UK, once a prime inbound destination for the world’s wealthy, has crept into the Top 3 countries expected to see the biggest net millionaire outflows, with 3,200 expected
Australia is on course to attract the highest net inflow of HNWIs in 2023 of 5,200 and overtake the UAE (4,500) to reclaim the top wealth magnet title, which it held between 2015 and 2019. The country has consistently attracted sizeable numbers of millionaires, mainly from Asia and Africa, but more recently also from high-income countries such as the UK. The city-state of Singapore rounds up the Top 3 for expected millionaire gains in 2023, with a predicted net inflow of 3,200. These are three of the nine countries in the Top 10 forecast to see the highest net millionaire inflows in 2023 that host residence by investment programs, which encourage foreign direct investment in return for the right to reside, which can also lead to citizenship in some cases.
Wooing the wealthy with investor-friendliness
Like private wealth migration, investment migration is also at an all-time high. Between January and March 2023, we received the highest number of quarterly enquiries on record — an increase of 36% compared to the previous quarter, and a notable 47% higher than the same period in 2022.
Faced with the threat of tax policy overhauls, many affluent investors are looking into alternative options in countries with investor-friendly tax environments and real estate investment opportunities, such as the UAE, Portugal, Greece, and Spain
While some governments have proposed new wealth and corporate taxes in response to the pandemic, others with appealing residence and citizenship by investment pathways offer favorable fiscal frameworks to attract investors and entrepreneurs. Faced with the threat of tax policy overhauls, many affluent investors are looking into alternative options in countries with investor-friendly tax environments and real estate investment opportunities, such as the UAE, Portugal, Greece, and Spain.
The UAE’s competitive, agile approach to adapting regulations has proved a powerful magnet for capital, talent, and wealth, helping it to earn the top spot for net millionaire inflows in 2022 when it attracted a record-breaking net arrival of 5,200 high-net-worth individuals. The UAE’s golden visa is valid for an initial period of 10 years across all investmentcategories, including the real estate option, which requires a property investment of a minimum of AED 2 million (approximately USD 550,000).
Golden Residence Permit holders who opt to relocate to the country can obtain a 10-year tax exemption on most foreign-sourced income and enjoy zero wealth taxes
With a minimum property investment of EUR 280,000, Portugal’s flexible Golden Residence Permit Program and favorable non-habitual-resident tax scheme offer another ideal solution. Golden Residence Permit holders who opt to relocate to the country can obtain a 10-year tax exemption on most foreign-sourced income and enjoy zero wealth taxes.
Greece’s Golden Visa Program, one of Europe’s increasingly sought-after, requires a minimum real estate investment of EUR 250,000 to be eligible for a renewable five-year residence permit. Golden Visa investors who decide to transfer their tax domiciles can pay a lump-sum tax of EUR 100,000 for 15 years, regardless of their foreign-sourced income, which is drawing many high-net-worth individuals to Greece’s shores.
Investors from across the world are opting for the Spain Residence by Investment Program to secure their right to live in this vibrant Mediterranean country, where the real estate option requires a minimum investment of EUR 500,000 for one or several properties.
Acquiring residence by investment in Portugal, Greece, or Spain guarantees the right to reside, work, and study in the relevant country, as well as travel visa-free across Europe’s Schengen Area, and the eligibility to apply for citizenship of a European Union member state after legal residence of five (Portugal), seven (Greece), or ten (Spain) years
Acquiring residence by investment in Portugal, Greece, or Spain guarantees the right to reside, work, and study in the relevant country, as well as travel visa-free across Europe’s Schengen Area, and the eligibility to apply for citizenship of a European Union member state after legal residence of five (Portugal), seven (Greece), or ten (Spain) years. For Spain, this is reduced to two years of effective residence for Sephardic Jews and their descendants, and for citizens of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, and the Philippines.
How do you decide what is best for you and your family?
There are many programs to select from, in every region, and creating a portfolio of residence and citizenship options is the best investment you can make to guarantee your personal access rights to the world and future-proof your wealth and safeguard your legacy for future generations. The Henley Ultimate Portfolio was designed to help investors explore the ultimate combination of alternative residences and citizenships to unlock global access, mitigate risk, and create opportunity. As with any important, life-changing decision, to ensure the best outcome it’s strongly advisable to seek professional guidance from a specialist advisor with a strong track record and a global footprint.