Knightsbridge Circle: HNW Trend Predictions for 2021

By Christina Tsangaris

According to market researcher, Euromonitor International, the world’s top three wealth segments, ultra-HNWIs, HNWIs and Affluent, are set to decline collectively by 4.8% when compared to the year before. The shrinkage is expected to be the greatest for the ultra-wealthy overall with a 6.5% decline year-on-year in 2020, compared to a 5.5% forecast for the HNW segment and 4.7% for the global affluent population – so what does this mean for the luxury industry?

Somewhat bucking the trend, the exclusive travel and lifestyle management company, Knightsbridge Circle, has reported a growth in membership numbers since the pandemic began and is set to expand their offices to Monaco and Miami later this year. UNHWIs are looking for round the clock support to navigate these difficult times. By offering 24/7 access to their Personal Managers, Knightsbridge Circle’s members have one point of contact who can cater to all their needs and save them time.

Stuart McNeill, Founder at Knightsbridge Circle said: “Along with my team of Personal Managers have distilled our insights and destination intel, to present an edit of what’s trending and why. More enriching travel experiences, philanthropic activities and prioritising physical wellbeing are just some of the new key trends to emerge from the pandemic, which are currently shaping the decisions of our ultra-high-net-worth members."

Farther-Flung Private Destinations

While many commercial airlines are struggling to navigate the impact of travel restrictions, demand among private jet companies is soaring, attracting those who may have never flown this way before. According to Air Charter Service, enquiries for private air travel have reportedly increased by 75% compared to the same period in previous years. 

Knightsbridge Circle has noticed that UHNWIs are spending even more money on exclusive and private experiences post pandemic. Families who traditionally flew first class, now opt for private jets. Before 2020, many members spent up to six months of the year travelling, which entailed organising multiple trips a year for each member; now Personal Managers can concentrate on arranging longer, less frequent trips and can dedicate more time to researching the safest ways and locations. This means clients are more likely to visit farther-flung destinations which are challenging to reach on mainstream flight paths. 

Privacy and space will be high on the agenda too, so Stuart anticipates multi-destination travel to vast open terrains such as Kenya will be popular. For example, a combined trip to Arijiju Retreat in the Kenyan highlands and Alfajiri Villas on the secluded coast gives members the chance to walk with rhinos, run in the African wilderness supported by a ranger or embark on helicopter adventures across the Suguta Valley. With less people currently travelling, this presents a chance to tick off those once in a lifetime trips to destinations that would usually attract many tourists. 

When returning to the UK, Knightsbridge Circle offers clients at-home COVID-19 testing, enabling members to reduce quarantine time to only five days, using the latest Test To Release scheme when returning from countries on the UK’s quarantine list. 

Health Restoration

The pandemic has underlined that health is the new wealth, giving rise to increased demand for highly tailored therapies and treatments with expert instruction. Stuart has noticed his clients are shifting away from pampering treatments and are moving towards more evidence-based medical treatments and health restoration programmes, such as those offered by Kings Way Programme by Dr Harry F. König at Villa Stephanie in Baden Baden. 

Second Home Escapes

The long-term reality is that people will continue to work from home into 2021 and beyond, as this new way of working becomes more deeply ingrained into society. According to the 2020 Knight Frank Global Buyer Survey, over a quarter of the respondents – consisting of 700 Knight Frank clients across 44 countries – were more likely to buy a second home as a result of the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of buyers said that when looking for a second home abroad ‘they would be influenced by the government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis’. Beyond this, HNWIs are looking for more space and a better work life balance with the ability to work remotely. This has undoubtedly been the case for Knightsbridge Circle’s members who were quick to relocate whole offices and homes abroad to places such as Monaco, Dubai and The Bahamas over the summer. Stuart anticipates that many of his clients will not be returning to the UK until April when the vaccine has been widely rolled out across the country.

Philanthropic Endeavours

Donations to philanthropic causes from the global ultra-wealthy population continues to increase steadily, fulfilling a growing need for social engagement. In 2020, Double the Donation saw an overall 4.1% increase of giving, marking the sixth consecutive year-on-year growth. Philanthropy has long been important to Knightsbridge Circle and its members – with the company previously raising money for the Elton John Aids Foundation, Cancer Research, Children in the Arts and Marie Curie. One very special event once saw Knightsbridge Circle arrange for actor Jim Carter – well known for his part as the butler Mr Carson in Downton Abbey – serve a member’s table at the Queen’s 90th birthday which raised £20,000 for his chosen charities. This trend towards philanthropy has also been noted among Knightsbridge Circle’s partners such as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – where Stuart sits on the Advisory Council – who donated the equivalent of his Christmas gift to ABTA Lifeline – a charitable trust designed to help those in the hospitality industry who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

By Christina Tsangaris