BEIJING, April 20 (Reuters) - China's growing ranks of millionaires and billionaires, which mirror the country's turbo-charged economic growth despite the global financial crisis, point to a boom for the wealth management industry, according to a survey published on Wednesday.
The number of Chinese individuals with net worth at least 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) is set to nearly double to 590,000 this year from 2008, the survey conducted by global consultants Bain & Co and China Merchants Bank showed.
Wealthy Chinese will have combined assets of 18 trillion yuan by the end of 2011, up 18 percent from the previous year, the report predicted.
"It's not surprising. China is doing well even as the picture for most developed countries looks grim," said Johnson Chng, Bain's head of financial services in the Greater China region.
"Wealth creation in China is marching on unimpeded."
The number of Chinese with net worth of at least 10 million yuan hit 500,000 in 2010, including 70,000 with more than 50 million yuan and 20,000 with over 100 million yuan.
China's more affluent provinces and cities -- Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang and Jiangsu -- have the highest proportion of millionaires and billionaires in the country.
Investment returns from China's red-hot property, private equity as well as the launch of the Nasdaq-style second board in 2009 were driving wealth creation, Chng told reporters.
But the rich Chinese are scaling back their property investment as the government seeks to rein in the overheating sector, boosting demand for wealth management products.
More than 90 percent of the wealthy individuals polled said they will not raise property investments in the next 1-2 years.
"The Chinese high net-worth individuals are quickly becoming a savvy shopper of wealth management products and services," he said.
Chinese banks, chafing under the government's loan curbs, are getting creative, pumping out high-yielding wealth management products to woo depositors and channel credit to preferred clients. [ID:nL3E7FF0BJ]
China's transformation from an impoverished backwater to the world's second-largest economy has created a growing army of super wealthy, posing a challenge to the government's attempt to bridge a yawning rich-poor divide.
Many wealthy Chinese are seeking foreign citizenship to help provide better education for their children and hedge against domestic policy uncertainties, according to the survey.
The survey found that nearly 27 percent of Chinese with net worth of 100 million yuan have already completed emigration to other countries and a further 47 percent are considering such a move. ($1 = 6.530 yuan) (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Ken Wills)