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Wealth-X Report 2015 to 2016 – Billionaire Census

Official Press Release by Wealth-X on 8th August 2016

Preeminent Global Wealth Study Shows a 6.4% Billionaire Population Growth Since 2014

Wealth-X today released key highlights from its 2015-2016 Billionaire Census revealing a record number of billionaires, globally. The third edition of this preeminent report indicates that there are 2,473 total billionaires in the world, representing a combined wealth of US$7.7 trillion.  These figures illustrate a 6.4% and 5.4% increase since 2014, respectively.

Driven by Wealth-X’s unparalleled collection of hand curated dossiers on the ultra high net worth (UHNW) population, the 2015-2016 Billionaire Census contains detailed analysis on the billionaire profile with a focus on geography, lifestyle, social networks, philanthropic behaviors, motivations and legacy.  Wealth-X defines UHNW individuals as having at least US$30 million in personal wealth (net worth) and billionaires as having a net worth of US$1 billion or greater.

While there is only one billionaire for every 2.95 million people on the planet, their wealth has a tremendous impact on the global economy.  In 2015, billionaires controlled 3.9% of the world’s total household wealth.  While this figure is slightly down from 2014, when compared to equity market capitalisations, it would trail only the New York Stock Exchange (US$17 trillion), and only the United States (US$17.9 trillion) and China (US$11.0 trillion) when compared to gross domestic product (GDP).


Key Findings

 Billionaires and the Ultra-Wealthy

  • In 2015, billionaire wealth accounted for a larger share of the total wealth held by the world’s ultra wealthy.
  • While billionaire representation within the UHNW population increased only 1% in 2015, their wealth representation in this demographic increased by nearly 5%.


Net-Worth Diversification

  • The continued rise in billionaire liquidity, currently at 22.2% of total net worth. An upward trend since 2012, 2015 saw a considerable ramp-up in liquidity events.


Billionaire Gender Gap

  • Male billionaires continue to represent the majority – 140 of the 148 new billionaire additions in 2015 were male, 17.5 times more than women.
  • A move toward entrepreneurialism by female billionaires – 56% inherited their wealth in 2015, nearly a 10% drop from 2014.


Wealth Transfer

  • Billionaires with partially inherited wealth continue to be the fastest growing segment of this population, responsible for nearly two thirds of total billionaire additions and a 29.9% increase from 2014.
  • Achieving billionaire status often requires more than just inheritance; 87% of billionaires made the majority of their fortunes themselves, up from 81% in 2014.


Career Movement

  • While finance, banking and investment remains the leading industry for billionaires, a subtle shift continues to grow – the number of billionaires in these fields decreased by 5.5% while their wealth decreased by 6.6%
  • Industrial conglomerates continue to edge to the top spot with the insurance, retail, diversified financial services, business services and IT services sectors all seeing significant billionaire growth.


Global Growth Engines

  • Asia leads all regions in growth of both billionaire population and wealth at 15.2% and 19.6% respectively.
  • Europe’s billionaire population increased by 4.0%, however the wealth of billionaires in the region tumbled .8% – a decrease of 11% of net billionaire wealth.
  • North America grew 3.1% in billionaire population and a healthy 8.0% in wealth.  Due to its size, these increases accounted for 13% of all net billionaire additions and 48% of net billionaire wealth.


wealth-x-logoAbout Wealth-X

The global leader in wealth information and insight, Wealth-X partners with leading prestige brands across the financial services, luxury, not-for-profit and higher-education industries to fuel strategic decision-making in sales, marketing and compliance. Wealth-X boasts the world’s most extensive collection of hand-curated dossiers on the ultra wealthy and produces unparalleled high net worth market research. Founded in 2010, with more than 200 staff across North America, Europe and Asia, Wealth-X works with over 500 clients, providing them with unique data, analysis and counsel to drive business success.

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