Belgium ranks second in our survey of private individuals' financial wealth

In the top 10 EU countries, the Dutchman is the richest. This is what emerges from our study. At the end of 2021, the average financial wealth per individual in the Netherlands was 176,510 euros, more than 4.5 times the lowest score in Portugal. Belgium ranks second with 121,000 euros.

Johan Geeroms, our Risk Underwriting Benelux Director, explains “For the main European countries, we examined what has happened to the average financial wealth of individuals over the past ten years. How much has it increased? And what is the main reason for that? In doing so, we look at savings, investments and pension money.”

Which means the value of real estate minus mortgage debt was not included. With that criterion, Belgium could have scored even higher, for example, because 72% of Belgians own their own home, and about 850,000 Belgians also own two or more homes. Figures from the National Bank of Belgium show that Belgians will own more than 1,741 billion euros in real estate in 2021.

The general conclusion regarding financial wealth is that the Dutch are the richest, and their wealth has also risen the fastest on average over the past ten years, namely by 7,230 euros per year. No other European country in the top 10 has its wealth distributed so well across income classes. In Belgium, assets have already increased by an average of 3,830 euros and in Germany, by 3,840 euros.

Johan Geeroms explains that assets can grow in different ways. “Interest rates have circled around zero for a long time, but if people keep putting aside a lot of savings, the wealth will grow considerably. The Belgians are traditional savers, but so are the Germans and the Dutch. Those savings were also used much more often for investments, which has yielded good returns in recent years. The Dutch and Finns already achieve the highest returns on their investments. More than two-thirds of their wealth growth was due to appreciation; in Germany, it was less than a quarter. They do not have to use income to achieve their savings objectives; they do that through investments.”
Germany has always been a saving champion, and our research confirms this. For example, German households saved the highest average amount per year between 2012 and 2021: 2,900 euros. Households in the Netherlands (2,210 euros), France (1,790 euros) and Belgium (1,740 euros) also set aside an above-average amount. At the bottom of the scale, we find southern European households: Italy (920 euros), Spain (580 euros) and Portugal (450 euros).
According to Johan Geeroms, the picture of wealth growth for private individuals will look considerably worse in the future. “The unprecedented rise in inflation is cutting into it. In 2021, the average total return fell by -60%. For 2022 it will be even worse. The return will be deeply negative. For 2023 you can expect an improvement with annual inflation of around 5%; yields will most likely remain in the red.”

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