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Rich Chinese shift focus from investment to health care

China’s wealthiest people are shifting their attention from investment to end-of-life care, with health, retirement and funeral arrangements looming as bigger issues, according a mainland survey.

Health care was the biggest concern for rich people polled for this year’s high-net-worth individuals survey by Taikang Insurance and Hurun Report, displacing last year’s top place-getter financial investment, which fell to third.

Family fortunes: China’s ultra rich embrace life insurance to protect wealth for future generations

China has more than 13 million high-net-worth individuals – those with over 10 million yuan in net assets – and their preferences are closely watched by various goods and service providers aiming to capitalise on their purchasing power.

According to the annual “Retirement Planning and Health care of Chinese HNWIs” report, half of the 1,125 respondents chose health care as their “topic of interest”, up from 42 per cent last year and ahead of sport on 44 per cent.

They exercised 16 times on average each month – up from 14 times last year, with running still the favourite form of exercise, followed by swimming, yoga, walking and golf.

Financial investment fell as a core interest from 53 per cent of respondents last year to 39 per cent this year, as China’s stock market stalled and regulators tightened their grip over wealth management products and peer-to-peer financing.

Most respondents said they were highly likely to buy life insurance in the next three years, especially endowment and health care insurance.

Investors pour into China’s thriving healthcare business

Retirement preferences of Chinese parents also underwent significant changes this year, the report said. About 63 per cent said they would prefer to live their retirement years at home, down from 85 per cent, with interest high-end retirement homes doubling.

“The main rationale for this preference is that elderly parents are unable to access the health care services they require if they stay at home,” the report said.

Respondents expressed interest in end-of-life services that combined palliative and psychological care and met religious needs. They were also interested in the legacy they would leave to the next generation.

Religious convictions were more common among older and wealthier respondents, with more than 60 per cent of respondents with at least 30 million yuan saying they had religious beliefs. More than 30 per cent said they were religious – 23 per cent professing to be Buddhist and 6 per cent Christian.

“In recent years, the proportion of religious high-net-worth individuals has grown. These beliefs strongly affect their demand for funeral services,” the report said.

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Over the past year, in spite of China’s slowing economic growth, the number of high-net-worth individuals continued to rise rapidly alongside the sustained growth of housing prices in first-tier cities. As of May, an estimated 13.4 million people had more than 10 million yuan in assets, up 10.7 per cent from last year. Those with at least 100 million yuan numbered about 89,000, a 14.1 per cent increase.

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