Asia’s wealthy people use digital technology more than their peers in the west and the mass affluent when it comes to social media, mobile and tablet applications, finds a new study.

The region’s high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) with at least $2 million spend up to an hour-and-a-half longer online each day than western peers, with 72% using apps to keep on top of financial matters, compared with 50% for mass affluent and 46% for western HNWIs.

The survey, which quizzed 3,477 respondents worldwide with an average of $1.9 million, also found that wealthy Asian respondents showed a higher level of trust in the web as a purchasing tool. Those with more than $2 million were willing to spend over $12,600 on a single purchase, some $2,500 more than peers from the west and more than $9,600 than Asia’s mass affluent.

When asked if the web had played a role in their wealth creation efforts, 74% of Asia’s HNW respondents said it had, compared with 61% for western peers and 55% for mass affluent.

“What we see quite clearly is that the world’s wealthy are experimenting with online opportunities and new technologies,” says Cath Tillotson, managing partner at Scorpio Partnership, which carried out the study alongside SEI and Standard Chartered Private Bank.

“In fact, this group is not simply engaging with the digital world, but putting it right at the centre of their wealth creation endeavours.”

The wealthiest from the same group typically own four digital devices and spend over 48 hours each week on the web, with an average top spend of $15,400.

Some 64% believe that collaborating with others online will be important to their continued wealth creation, with 71% having a presence on Facebook and 31% using LinkedIn. Moreover, 55% access social networking sites through mobile applications or devices, while 49% use a banking/finance mobile application.

The study also found that the wealthiest spend an average 13% less time conducting simple research tasks than the rest of the sample group, but engage with more complex functionality online, and are more likely to start discussions or manage their own website and web content.

Looking ahead, 77% of respondents expect the internet and digital technology to contribute to their success in five years’ time, a figure that rises to 92% for the wealthiest.

The authors of the report highlight the opportunity for financial services firms to engage more effectively with their wealthiest clients and prospects by embracing technological innovation.

“With the rise of a tech-savvy wealthy segment, businesses – especially wealth management firms, banks and other high-end service providers – need to adapt to the increasing demands for and expectations of digital expertise if they wish to capture a share of this market segment,” says Al Chiaradonna, senior vice-president of SEI’s global wealth services division. “Institutions that expect this group to align with them need to have the most up-to-date technology platforms and infrastructure to support the changing landscape in order to enrich the client experience.”

The Futurewealth Report: The digital world of the Futurewealthy is the first in a four-part series of studies that aim to examine the attitudes of the world’s next wealthy generation. The remainder of the series will be published next year.