Number of Australian millionaires on the rise

It happened in the blink of an eye. Commodity prices surged, the dollar shot higher, the sharemarket rebounded, and the number of Australians who can call themselves ''high net worth individuals'' swelled by nearly 20,000, according to the latest study of the world's wealthy.

According to the World Wealth Report 2011, an annual study by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch, the number of Australians with investable assets worth more than $1 million dollars - excluding primary residence - jumped by 11.1 per cent in 2010. There are now more than 192,000 of them, with a combined wealth of $US582 billion ($553 billion).

The report covers 71 of the world's richest countries, accounting for 98 per cent of global gross national income and 99 per cent of world sharemarket capitalisation.

According to the report, Australia has the ninth-largest population of high net worth individuals in the world.

Chris Richardson, the chief economist at Deloitte Access Economics, said much of that wealth was generated by Australia's position in the global economy.

"It is absolutely no surprise that the weight of wealth is swinging geographically closer to Australia. You can see it in our trade patterns, you can see it in the export prices that we're getting, you can see it in foreign investment requests being made of Australia.''

But when it comes to the number of high net worth individuals, Australia is a regional munchkin.

The report found that, for the first time since the study began 15 years ago, the number of such people in the Asia Pacific region - excluding Japan - surpassed those in Europe.

With more than 3.3 million people with investable assets worth more than $US1 million, with a combined wealth of $US10.8 trillion, they outweigh Europe's 3.1 million richest, with $US10.2 trillion.