European Wealth Report 2022
The beginning of 2023 may be looked back upon as the unofficial end of the COVID period, with economists already talking about the world In Its pre- and post-pandemic contexts. Even since the data for this report were collected, we have witnessed a significant correction of liquid asset prices In Europe. These more recent readjustments are not reflected in this document, which mostly looks at data to the end of 2021. Using 2019 numbers as a proxy for the beginning of the pandemic, we see that overall wealth grew by 9.4% to the end of 2021. Breaking this into its individual components shows that non-financial wealth grew by 6.6%, while financial wealth grew by a massive 13.75%. Net financial wealth increased across every European country except for Greece between 2019 and 2021, a troika of results that reflects another good year for Europe’s wealthy.
This last metric – net financial wealth – is an innovation of the RFS European Wealth Report. While most wealth reports look only at investible financial assets, we believe this is a far more comprehensive metric for measuring true wealth. It considers the liabilities that a household holds. This is an important distinction to make, particularly after a decade in which many households took advantage of low-interest rates, growing their liabilities base.
The conclusion of this report is important if not entirely unexpected: Wealth is remarkably resilient. Its growth during a series of lockdowns across the continent is testament to this. The figures also indicate that wealth became more concentrated. Between 2019 and 2021, the Gini coefficient across European countries rose by nearly a percentage point. This trend was particularly pronounced in lower-income countries such as Greece, Malta, and Portugal.
This is the second Wealth Report to be produced by Redesigning Financial Services. Our aim is for it to build on the findings of the 2021 edition and to give further context to the ongoing conversation about the growing concentration of wealth in Europe. Its findings suggest that bringing the unequal distribution of wealth under control without hindering growth will be one of Europe’s major economic challenges as we move further into the 21st century.