Secret to fortune lies above ground for wannabe millionaires

Financial services rather than mining is likely to be where most of Australia's rich will earn their wealth in the next five years.

Financial services rather than mining is likely to be where most of Australia's rich will earn their wealth in the next five years.

Oliver Williams, an analyst with WealthInsight, said financial services was becoming the new bastion for Australia's wealthy.

"Although Australia's established multimillionaires, such as Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer, still have large stakes in the mining sector, most of the country's emerging millionaires are profiting from financial services," Mr Williams said.

WealthInsight estimates by 2017 there will be 402,000 millionaires in Australia, a 33 per cent increase on last year. Most of the 100,000 new millionaires will earn their wealth from financial services.

At the end of 2012 there were 302,000 millionaires, defined as those with net wealth of at least $US1 million excluding their primary residences. The number of multimillionaires, defined as those with more than $US30 million, is estimated at 2740 last year.

WealthInsight reported 18.4 per cent of millionaires acquired their wealth from financial services. The next-largest sector, basic materials, which includes agriculture, mining and metals, was the source of wealth for 14.3 per cent.

Australia has one of the healthiest distributions of wealth and the world's second-largest wealth per capita. Wealth per capita in Australia was close to $US344,000, second after Switzerland at $US498,000 in 2012.

Collectively, Australian millionaires hold $US900 billion, or 15.5 per cent of the country's wealth, far below the global average of 29 per cent. "Although we see billionaires earning stratospheric amounts, the reality is they are a tiny minority in what is a very equal economy," Mr Williams said.