Julius Baer launches Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report, finds HNW focus on 'conscious consumption'

By Michelle Johnson | 17 Jan 2020 | Wealth

International private banking company reviewed 28 cities around the world and finds London to top Europe as most expensive

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* The City skyline in London. London, UK, is the seventh most expensive city in the world

Julius Baer International revealed the findings of its inaugural Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report at a presentation at sustainable members club, The Conduit on Tuesday. The private banking firm surveyed the prices of 20 premium goods and service in 28 cities around the world – 10 in Asia Pacific, 12 in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and six in the Americas – and found a move towards "conscious consumption" in the world's most wealthy. 

The wide-ranging survey examined prices and consumer behaviour of popular goods such as property and automotive, and services including lawyers, schooling and personal training, to better understand the world of luxury. The index shows that, while overall EMEA cities offer the best value, London is the most expensive city in the region, followed by Zurich and Monaco. The UK capital is also seventh in the world index, with Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, Singapore and Los Angeles making up the top spots.

The report highlighted the trend of conscious consumption, identifying that the very wealthy worldwide are pushing for a more sustainable future in governance, regulations and banking. 81% of companies globally reported that sustainability is more important to their businesses than five years ago, and 85% believe it will be even more important by 2025.

Consumers in Asia and Latin America are more likely to opt for products with environmental credentials, with the report speculating that this may be driven by local first-hand experience of the man-made negative effects of economic growth – such as air pollution. 

"Our analysis reveals the growing desire among consumers to balance their buying decisions with their social, environmental and political convictions," says Nicolas de Skowronski, Julius Baer's head wealth management solutions and member of the executive board. >>

Related: The rise and rise of conscious capitalism

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* Hong Kong tops the charts as the world's most expensive city

"This began with the Millennials, but the baton has definitely been passed through the generations now," he says. "The conscious consumer is here to stay, and we see a fast evolution of existing offerings and major investments into innovations across industries as a response to this growing demand."

Julius Baer is clear that ESG – environmental, social and governance – focused investment is of growing importance to its HNW clients, who are keen to ensure the proactive credentials of businesses within their portfolios.

"We have developed guidelines in accordance with international frameworks to identify and integrate material ESG topics into our investment process," says de Skowronski. "This does not mean, however, that we are making moral judgements about investment opportunities, but rather that we acknowledge that corporate culture can play just as large a role in a company’s success as its balance sheet."

Related: Julius Baer CEO David Durlacher tells Tempus why Brexit must be placed within a global context