Every year, a number of very respectable organisations - management consultancies, wealth managers, tax advisors, property consultants, and media firms - try to find out the number of super wealthy people worldwide and, of course, in individual countries. The reports broadly agree that the wealth of the super rich and the share of the country's and as well as global wealth is generally going up. They also agree that in most countries the number of super rich are going up. In China and India, especially the number of billionaires and their total wealth are showing a double-digit growth rate every year. While the reports typically differ on the specifics, their overall conclusions about aggregate wealth of the super rich in India (and globally) are pretty much similar.
Of course, every year there will be some examples of billionaires and millionaires who foolishly lose their wealth - sometimes through bad personal investment, and sometimes because they have mismanaged their companies. But each year, there are also more additions to the list because of first-time entrepreneurs who are building new-age businesses.
While many of the new rich believe in philanthropy and plan to leave a big part of their wealth for doing good when they are finally ready to hang up their boots (or sometimes before that), they also consume more than ever before. They are also more careful about conserving wealth for the long term - because they want their philanthropic activities to continue getting funds long after they leave the planet, and at other times, simply because they want to leave their children and grandchildren with enough money for their lifetime.
Our annual luxury issue - anchored by Senior Editor Goutam Das - focusses on both consumption and preservation of wealth. We look at both how retailers are trying to sell to the super wealthy, as well as how the really rich want to spend their money. One of the new trends that most people talk about today is "experiential luxury", where the rich want newer and more unique experiences tailored to their tastes, and not merely the same packaged luxury. This issue looks at some of the ways this is affecting the offerings in the market. To give just two examples, there are now premium and luxury homestays that offer a different experience than luxury hotels, and they are doing brisk business. And there is Four Seasons, which is now experimenting with a specially tailored, curated, private jet vacation package for the rich seeking unique experiences.
There are other interesting and insightful stories - how trusts, wealth managers, family offices and others help in making sure that your inheritors don't become poorer, how gin is making a comeback, and how an electric car is giving luxury carmakers and designers a bigger scope to make cars even more sumptuous.