Hong Kong dollar millionaires are increasingly investing into mutual funds, RMB products and foreign currency, although their number is on the decline in the city, new research finds.

There were 527,000 people with liquid assets of over HK$1 million ($129,000) in 2011, a 5.5% drop from 558,000 in 2010, according to the latest Hong Kong Consumer Wealth Review by Citi.

However, this is still more than double the number in 2003. Overall, millionaires on average held HK$9.3 million in net assets, of which HK$2.2 million were liquid assets.

The 2011 millionaire figure represents 9.8% of the city’s adult population aged between 21 and 79; 57% were men and 43% women; 79% were married and 15% single; and 21% were below 40, while 60% were aged 40 to 59.

The top five occupations among them were retirees (21%), housewives (18%), managers/executives (18%), professionals (13%) and business owners (10%).

In terms of investment and asset ownership, 55% were invested in mutual funds in 2011, against 45% in 2010. But the biggest increase came in RMB (both deposits and products), with 73% now invested against 60% in 2010. Meanwhile, 66% had foreign currency investments in 2011, up from 59% in 2010.

The only other asset type to see a year-on-year increase was time deposit (non-RMB), which rose from 44% to 49%. The remainder saw declines, including property (83% to 81%) and stocks (80% to 76%).

But in something of a reversal, funds together with bonds came out bottom when respondents were asked to select which investment tools they felt most positive on from a provided list. They received just 11% of votes.

On top were RMB savings (32%), stocks (30%), RMB-related investments (21%) and gold (17%).

For those who changed status from non-millionaire to millionaire over the 12 month period, 41% put it down to investment gains (stocks, gold, RMB-related products and foreign currency except RMB) compared with 47% the year before. But just 16% ascribed a property sale as the reason for entering the millionaire bracket, compared with 29% in 2010.

There was a dramatic rise in the number of respondents who expect property prices to drop, 71% in this survey compared with 19% in 2010. Meanwhile just 6% expect prices to rise, compared with 55% in 2010.

On the question of where these millionaires live, one in six are based on Hong Kong island, versus one in 10 in Kowloon and one in 13 in the New Territories and outlying islands.

Since 2005, Kowloon City and Kwun Tong have seen the biggest increase in millionaire population, while on Hong Kong island Central and Western districts both saw declines.

Interestingly, Wanchai saw its wealthy population increase 6% over that period and it now has the highest density of millionaires in the city. The top occupation for millionaires living in Wanchai is managers and executives at 41%, significantly above the 18% city-wide average.

In this consumer survey a total of 4,066 adults aged 21 to 70 were interviewed over the phone between November 18 last year and January 20, 2012.

Citi says it first started this survey as a market sizing exercise more than 10 years ago for its Citigold business, a wealth management offering for those with over HK$1 million in liquid assets. However, over time it started to publish the results on account of a high level of public interest.