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Top 10 Cities for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals

21 October 2011

It’s no accident that Occupy Wall Street has its headquarters in New York City. The Big Apple tops the list of 10 cities with the most people worth $30 million or more, dwarfing other cities with 7,720 of these super-rich people, according to wealth-research company Wealth-X.
 
Wealth-X, a company based in Singapore that compiles and sells a proprietary database of individuals with a total net worth of over $30 million, released its first ranked list on Tuesday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
 
Wealth-X says there are 57,860 people in the U.S. worth over $30 million, a threshold which the company says is universally accepted to define the super rich.
 
“The majority of the people in the list are risk-takers and who have started businesses,” David Lincoln, Wealth-X’s director of research, told ABC news. “They’re running businesses, taking risks and compensated for that risk.”
 
1.
New York
Thirteen percent of the super-wealthy live in the New York metropolitan area, which has only about 6 percent of the total population of the country, according to Wealth-X.
 
Lincoln said a common thread among the 10 metropolitan areas with the most wealthy people is that they are near the headquarters of some of the largest Fortune 500 companies.
 
“For the most part, where the biggest companies in the world have headquarters, you’re going to find wealthiest Americans,” Lincoln said. “Not surprisingly, New York leads the way home for some of the biggest firms, including Verizon, JP Morgan, and Pfizer.”
 
2.
Los Angeles
While L.A. may be abuzz with Hollywood celebrities, artists, media and sports stars comprise only a small percentage of the country’s super-wealthy: 1.6 percent of the top percentile, to be exact. That’s according to 2005 tax data in research from Williams College, reported by the New York Times. It seems the figure has remained around 2 percent or less since 1979, when 1.6 percent of the top wealthiest percentile were artists, or from the media and sports industries.
 
The top one-third of the richest percentile in the U.S. are executives, managers and supervisors, not in the finance industry, according to that data from 2005.
 
3.
San Francisco
Technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists most likely make up many of the super-wealthy in the San Francisco area. Google, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Apple as well as investment and law firms contribute to the Silicon Valley machine. The super-rich from the fields of computers, math, engineering, and technical fields make up the fifth-largest group of the top percentile, at 4.6 percent.
 
Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of software company Oracle, reportedly lives in Woodside, Calif., and happens to be the third richest person in the country, according to Forbes.
 
Despite the relatively high taxes in California, the super-rich may be taking advantage of the Golden State’s sunshine. Wealth-X said it only sampled primary residences, though it said many ultra high net worth people own vacation homes and other homes in various places.
 
4.
Chicago
The Chicago metropolitan area hosts its fair share of major corporations, including fast-food giant McDonald’s, consulting firm Accenture, retailer Walgreens, defense and aerospace contractor Boeing, and telecommunications company Motorola, managed by at least some wealthy executives.
 
Chicago also hosts the CME Group, which is the largest commodities and options market in the world, and related companies, rivaling New York City’s financial ecosphere.
 
While non-finance executives make up the majority of the top richest percentile, financial professions came in third at 13.9 percent in 2005, after those in the medical field at 15.7 percent.
 
5.
Washington
The wealthy in the Washington metropolitan area are most likely affiliated with government and military industries. Lockheed Martin is based in Bethesda, Md., while aerospace and defense contractor Northrop Grumman is based in West Falls Church, Va.
 
Falls Church City in Virginia, meanwhile, is the richest county in the U.S., according to the U.S. census, while three other counties in Virginia and a suburb in Maryland comprise the wealthiest top five counties in the country, which are getting wealthier.
 
6.
Houston
Not all the super-rich reside in coastal cities. Houston, fourth largest city in the U.S., is home to 2,250 individuals worth at least $30 million, according to Wealth-X.
 
Companies related to the oil industry comprise the top of Fortune’s biggest publicly traded companies in the Houston area by revenue, including Conoco Phillips ($185 billion) and Marathon Oil ($68.5 billion). Other companies headquartered in Houston include food wholesaler Sysco and defense contractor Halliburton.
 
7.
Dallas
Aside from oil fortunes from companies like Exxon-Mobil in nearby Irving, Dallas is home to many blue chip corporations such as AT&T, AMR, Kimberley Clark and Texas Instruments, among others, said David Lincoln of Wealth-X.
 
“Houston and Dallas also house a thriving investment management industry; hedge funds and ultra affluent individuals may be attracted by Texas’ low corporate taxes and lack of state income tax,” Lincoln said.
 
8.
Atlanta
Atlanta was the only city in the Southern U.S. in Wealth-X’s list of cities. But of all the cities in the South, Atlanta may be the most obvious choice to have a large number of ultra high net worth individuals.
 
Compared to all other U.S. cities, Atlanta has the fourth largest number of Fortune 500 firms headquartered within city boundaries. Companies like Home Depot, Coke, UPS and Suntrust may have contributed to the wealth of some super-rich, according to Lincoln.
 
9.
Boston
Lincoln said Boston, the sixth largest economy in the U.S., is included in Wealth-X’s list is because it is home to “massive” financial, life-sciences and high tech industries. The biggest companies in the Fortune 500 based in the Boston metropolitan area are insurer Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, defense contractor Raytheon, office supply company Staples, retailer TJX which owns T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and A.J. Wright.
 
Other companies include BJ’s Wholesale Club, life sciences company Thermo Fisher Scientific, financial services company State Street Corp., medical device maker Boston Scientific and pharmaceutical company Genzyme.
 
The cost of living is serious business in Boston, which has notoriously expensive houses in next-door Cambridge near Harvard University, and the most expensive cab fares in North America, according to TaxiWiz.
 
10.
Seattle
Billionaires such as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos and Craig McCaw owe their wealth to the Seattle-based companies they have built, according to Lincoln.
 
“Firms like Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks, and Amazon have churned out scores of [ultra high net worth] individuals throughout the years,” Lincoln said.
 
In fact, Bill Gates, worth $59 billion, has been the wealthiest person in the country for the 18th consecutive year, according to Forbes’ list of richest people in America, released in September.
 
According to Forbes’ list, an all-time high of its 400 richest Americans were self-made at 70 percent, up from 55 percent in 1997.