HONG KONG: The number of billionaires worldwide has reached a record level of 2,170, with Asia the fastest growing region, a new report has said.

The Billionaire Census 2013, from global wealth intelligence company Wealth-X and financial services business UBS, found that billionaire wealth globally was up 5.3% in the year to June 2013 while billionaire numbers had risen 0.5%.

But in Asia billionaire wealth had increased 13% and, at current rates, was likely to catch up with North America within five years. In addition, the number of billionaires in the region was up 3.7%.

This rate of increase – with Asia contributing a total of 18 new billionaires – meant that Asia was "driving the tectonic shifts in wealth globally", the report said.

The study also said Asia had 44,505 ultra-high net worth ($30m-plus) individuals, whose total wealth amounted to $6,590bn.

Currently, however, Europe remains home to the most billionaires (766 individuals), while North America has the most billionaire wealth ($2,158bn).

The average net worth of the world's billionaires was $3 billion, but globally there were 111 individuals who each had a net worth exceeding $10bn billion.

Globally, some 60% of billionaires were self-made, while the remaining 40% had inherited wealth or grown their inheritance. Where female billionaires were concerned, those figures fell to 17% being self-made and 71% inheriting.

Chi-Won Yoon, CEO of UBS Asia Pacific, noted that, in Asia, "most billionaires are entrepreneurs who remain heavily involved in their family businesses".

The report also observed that, despite the popular notions of billionaires being jet-setting, cosmopolitan individuals, most billionaires were still based in the same locations where they were raised.

Data sourced from Wealth-X, Times of India; additional content by Warc staff