Singapore is set to surpass Switzerland to become the largest global offshore wealth centre by 2020, according to new research by WealthInsight.

The Lion City is the fastest growing wealth centre in the world in terms of assets under management, with the number of Singaporean millionaires nearly doubling in the past five years, hitting 183,000 in 2012, up 99.6% from 91,700 in 2008. These 183,000 millionaires are worth a collective $857 billion.

Moreover, the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals – those with $30 million or more – doubled in the same time frame to 3,870 from 1,890. Each UHNWI holds an average of $86 million.

This trend will continue, with London-based WealthInsight predicting that the number of wealthy Singaporeans will rise by 59% to 291,000 by 2017. This means that one in every 20 Singaporeans will be a millionaire in the next four years, up from one in every 30 last year. The number of UHNWIs is also forecast to climb by 59% to 6,144 by 2017.

The biggest portion of Singaporeans’ wealth accumulation came from the financial services industry, which was the source of wealth for 35% of millionaires and 22% of multi-millionaires last year.

Technology and telecommunications and real estate each account for roughly 7% of wealth accumulation, while energy and utilities, manufacturing, transport and logistics, media, hotels, restaurants and leisure each account for less than 5%. 

“The rise of Singapore as a wealth centre is a result of the burgeoning Asian wealth surrounding the island state,” says WealthInsight analyst Oliver Williams, citing the the city state’s “immense” allure for rich Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Filipino and Indonesian families. “As emerging Asia looks at economic uncertainty, the newly wealthy of this region will continue to flock to Singapore.”

The Lion City has been viewed as one of the world’s leading financial hubs for some time, due to sound regulations, a sophisticated financial services sector and favourable legal structures. Yet there is an additional factor now appealing to wealthy Asian families – the education available there.

“Singapore is becoming Asia’s education hub as more and more international students enroll at its five public and more than 15 private universities,” Williams says. The firm forecasts 150,000 students will choose the city for their schooling in 2015, a 114% increase from 70,000 in 2005.