Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.
In order for someone to be considered an “ultra-high-net-worth individual,” they typically need to have at least $30 million worth of net investable assets to their name. However, this isn’t really a legal definition.
As the name suggests, ultra-high-net-worth individuals are the wealthiest people on the planet, including the world’s billionaires. These individuals sit significantly above those who are considered high-net-worth individuals.
The number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals continues to grow, and the demographics of these individuals are constantly shifting, according to several journals and studies around the world.
Here’s a closer look at who is in this elite group.
What Constitutes Being an Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individual?
While there’s no legal standard when it comes to defining who is an ultra-high-net-worth individual (UHNWI), they’re often defined as those who have $30 million or more in assets.
These funds must be in investable assets, which is an important distinction to make. For instance, many startup founders, business owners and real estate investors may have more than $30 million in net worth on paper, but those funds may not all be available to invest. In turn, such individuals would not be considered ultra-high-net-worth under this definition.
Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are in a distinct category of their own, though there are similar counterparts, the most common of which are high-net-worth individuals. To be in this group, you need more than $1.5 million in net worth of $750,000 in investable assets.
It’s important to note that to reach either of these thresholds, investable assets will need to be net of liabilities as well. So those with lofty amounts to invest as well as high levels of debt may not reach the tier they expect to.
While ultra-high-net-worth individuals are usually defined as having more than $30 million in investable net assets, remember that this isn’t a strict definition. Most people, countries and financial institutions will abide by this standard, but some will have other definitions. If a financial institution says it only works with ultra-high-net-worth individual clients, it’s worth clarifying with the company personally.
For help with your investing and financial planning questions, consider using SmartAsset’s free financial adviser matching tool.
Who Makes Up the World of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals?
According to the Wealth Report, published by Knight Frank in 2021, there are more than 520,000 ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the world, which is up a couple of percent from 2019.
About a third of these individuals reside in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. houses more UHNWIs than any other country, including all of Europe combined. China has a large percentage of the world’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals too.
Only about 15% of the world’s UHNWIs are women.
It’s worth noting, however, that other studies have found different numbers of global ultra-high-net-worth individuals. For example, Barron’s reported a total of about 300,000 for 2020.
There are some well-known names atop the world’s list of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, including all of the world’s billionaires. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Mackenzie Bezos are all ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
Many billionaires and other ultra-high-net-worth individuals have earned their wealth through starting and owning businesses. Many of these ultra-high-net-worth individuals invest significantly in real estate.
Benefits of Being an Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individual
Remember that while most people and institutions consider ultra-high-net-worth individuals to be those with more than $30 million in net investable assets, the definition can change from situation to situation.
However, regardless of the standard being used, the largest advantage of being an ultra-high-net-worth individual is the fact that you’re incredibly financially comfortable and you may have much more robust investment opportunities than your less wealthy counterparts.
It’s true that ultra-high-net-worth individuals may have the advantage of being able to work with certain exclusive financial institutions, but hitting that $30 million mark usually ends up being more of a status symbol and a statistic than anything else.
If you’re considering a big investment or working with a specific financial institution, it may be a good idea to have a conversation to discuss any special treatment or terms that may come along with being an ultra-high-net-worth individual.
Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are all extremely well-off financially. Typically, they’ll need to have $30 million in investable assets to qualify, but different institutions and people may have their own definitions of what constitutes an ultra-high-net-worth individual.
There are ultra-high-net-worth individuals around the world, but most reside in the United States and most are older men. While high-net-worth individuals and very-high-net-worth individuals are also impressive financial distinctions, ultra-high-net-worth individuals sit at the very top of the wealth pyramid and may have special access to certain financial institutions and investments.