At R111.640, South Africa’s net financial assets per capita, is higher than other BRICS coun-tries except for China. However, South Africa’s net financial assets of households grew by only 5.3% – one of the slowest rates among the BRICS countries, which is also below the average of advanced markets.
The growth of liabilities slowed down to 3.2% as South African households continued to show some debt discipline. This has resulted in the debt ratio falling below 45% for the first time in ten years. Even though the country’s households have trimmed their debt ratio by 10% over the last decade, its overall level remains elevated, and higher than the emerging market average of around 35%.
The country’s relatively high average wealth has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it is one of the countries where wealth is unevenly distributed. More than 70% of all net financial assets are owned by 10% of the population at the top of the wealth distribution. Whilst, glob-ally, only the US displays a higher share of wealth, the global average is about 53%. At the top of the list, a change of the guard occurred in 2016, with the USA capturing the top spot from Switzerland (by a razor-thin margin). Otherwise, the list gives the usual picture, with Scandinavian and Asian countries dominating.