You can learn a lot about a country from the number of successful people who want to go and live there, or by the number of the same type of people who can’t wait to leave. The latest report on global millionaire migration from specialists Henley & Partners gives us some accurate insights into this league table of desirable destinations. They’ve been collecting this data for a decade now, tracking the movements of dollar millionaires as they acquire second residency or citizenship to enhance their lifestyle, their tax position and the security of their family.

In recent years there’s been an interesting development, especially among Henley’s wealthier clients. Previously, the most popular approach was to have a Plan B, a second residency that you don’t relocate to now but you keep up your sleeve as an insurance policy in case things get too bad in your home country. The new trend is for a portfolio of second residencies and citizenships which you can either move between on a seasonal basis throughout the year or rotate in and out of at different phases of your life. In my own case, I’ve relocated to Portugal for more sunshine and less tax but there’s not a lot of potential to grow Beaufort Private Equity here. So, I’m looking at adding residency in the UAE to my own portfolio and setting up a company there that enables us to operate in one of the fastest growing regions on the planet.

As I’ve been emphasising for years, you don’t have to be a billionaire to think and act like one. If you own a family home in South East England you are probably a dollar millionaire already so you would be included in the Henley data if you decide to invest in a second or third residency. How much urgency you attach to this depends on how you react to recent developments in our politics, our economy and our culture. My own opinion is that the West crossed a Rubicon during Banana Syndrome and most Western countries now have much more in common with China than with the freedom loving democracies we grew up in. Just one example is the latest restrictions on peaceful protest which mirror the Hong Security laws. I’m not saying we’re as extreme as China yet, but we have lurched massively in that direction since 2020. Add in the woke culture wars, record taxation and a broken healthcare system and it’s easy to see why the UK sits in third place among the ‘highest leavers’ behind only China and India. The 3,200 millionaires who left the UK in 2023 represents double the 2022 number and would normally be a wake-up call for a Conservative government. But, as you may have realized by now, the UK doesn’t have a Conservative government so I’m not holding my breath for any response to this exodus.

Given the way in which the BRICS nations are coming together in response to the weaponisation of the dollar, it’s clear that their wealthy citizens do not share their political leaders’ enthusiasm. All five nations feature in the Top Ten Hall of Shame, with the People’s Republic topping the table as it waves goodbye to 13,500 High Net Worth citizens.  India is right behind in second place with 6,500 millionaires packing their bags, while Russia sits in fourth place just behind Britain with 3,000 departures. Next up in fifth place is Brazil which said adeus to 1200 HNWs while the much smaller South Africa takes ninth place with a thousand citizens collecting up the cash hidden in their sofas and heading for safer shores.

So, the $64,000 question, sorry, allowing for inflation that’s the $64 trillion question is, where are all these wealthy folks going? If you’ve been enjoying the Ten Pound Poms series these last few weeks, you might be surprised to learn that we now export Million Pound Poms, with Australia being the most popular destination for the world’s migrating millionaires. There were 5,200 arrivals last year, these folks clearly not concerned about the authoritarian measures imposed in lockdown by the previously easy going Aussies. Lifestyle obviously played a big part in those decisions, but I wonder if being as far away as possible from the epi-centre of any future conflicts also featured in their thinking? Either that or they recognize the importance of Australia’s vast natural resources which could insulate them from future battles over scarce commodities.

I’m not surprised that the second most popular place to move to is the United Arab Emirates, given the business friendly, low tax environment and the huge investments in tourism and infrastructure being made as these countries diversify from their dependence on fossil fuels. It’s fairly easy to get residency in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, which is more than you can say for Singapore. You already need to have quite a few quid in the bank to qualify for residency these days, but if safety and low taxes are a priority then this City State could fit the bill. There’s no history of climatic events or of violence and the country is run as a Parliamentary democracy albeit with a rod of iron. The old joke is that Singapore is a fine city – you’ll be fined for this, fined for that. But I’ve always enjoyed the buzz of the place as a home for entrepreneurs and ambitious expats, much like the UAE.

A bigger surprise than Australia was finding Joe Biden’s America in fourth place on the table though, given its population, the figure of 2100 millionaire arrivals is mere rounding factor. I’m guessing there were reasons they had to be there rather than volunteering to live in a country that is going downhill fast through a combination of tribalism and corruption. Maybe these people are the founders of the firms choosing to list on the American stock market to achieve the higher valuation multiples I talked about on last week’s programme? Or maybe they are all the British entrepreneurs that have been forcibly extradited under David Blunkett’s woeful treaty?   No surprise to see Switzerland in the top five, the tiny land-locked state attracting almost as many new arrivals as Uncle Sam. Switzerland has lost some appeal since giving up banking secrecy and is cosying up to the EU more and more, but for the right profile of person it still offers some great tax benefits, summers on the lakes and winter on the slopes. All slap bang in the middle of Europe.

I have a theory about the 1,600 millionaires who moved to Canada in 2023 – they must be drawn from the 13,500 who left China. The similarity between their political regimes must have swung it in favour of Justin Trudeau’s outpost of the Commonwealth. When you can swap one authoritarian communist country for another with better skiing what’s not to like? Greece recently made its Citizenship By Investment programme one of the most cost effective in the EU with a price tag of a quarter of a million euros. I wonder if that was a key factor in enticing 1,200 new millionaires to its sunny climes? When you add the amount these people will bring when they buy property and then all their ongoing consumption taxes you can see why a small number of migrants can make a big difference to their economy.

With all the fuss around the demise of Boris Johnson, I wonder if the 1,000 millionaires heading to France last year included some remoaners anxious to rejoin the European Union? I’m not aware of any tax benefits to living in the Fifth Republic, so the other option is that these are bon viveurs who employ international tax planners while demanding a different Michelin starred restaurant for every night of the week.  The top ten is made up by my own choice of Portugal with 800 well-heeled arrivals and that other authoritarian antipodean , New Zealand.  Mind you, the dreaded Jacinda Arden announced her resignation on 19th January last year so that may have been the news that reignited hedge fund managers’ desire to become remote sheep farmers…

There are so many factors influencing our choice of where we live. These include short term considerations like taxation and longer-term concerns like the impact of climate change. At Beaufort Private Equity we encourage our members to make 100 year, multi-generational plans. That’s why we recently joined forces with Henley & Partners to help our members weigh up the pros and cons of all the migration options open to them. Like tax planning, residency and citizenship by investment programmes need expert advice as the options are many and complex. The trick is to start the process and at least look at the choices open to you. Is it time for you to have a Plan B or C for your family? If so, get in touch and we’ll make some introductions.