The series of annual reports, developed and issued by the collaboration of the global networks of UBS and PwC, outlines billionaires’ characteristics and how they empower the global economy.
Billionaire-controlled companies achieve almost twice the annualised average performance of the market. Over the last 15 years, billionaire-controlled companies listed on the equity market returned 17.8%, clearly outshining the 9.1% of the MSCI AC World Index.
The “billionaire effect” is driven by three distinct personality traits found in billionaires: they are exceptionally focused on their businesses, they have an appetite for smart risk-taking and they pursue long-term strategies – the latter a quality they have in common with family-run businesses.
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The majority of billionaires engage in philanthropy to varying degrees as they are driven by their ambition to be change-makers. Philanthropists prioritise impact as they do not have stakeholders to answer to, and they can use their own money for what matters to them. A growing number of billionaires are interested in sustainable finance.
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Women are joining the ranks of billionaires in ever greater numbers. With a 46% surge over the last five years, from 160 to 233, they have grown substantially faster in number than male billionaires, who have increased in number by 39%. New female billionaires demonstrate wisdom, courage and inspiration, which is why they are referred to as the “Athena factor”, after the Greek goddess.
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The “billionaire effect” has become especially evident in all matters concerning change-driving and wealth generation over the past five years. Unsurprisingly, billionaires in the technology sectors have increased their wealth by 91% in this time period, disrupting sectors and creating industries of the future.
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The aggregate wealth of billionaires rose by 34% to a total of USD 8.5 trillion in the past five years. By the end of 2018, 589 individuals had become billionaires for the first time, increasing the billionaire population by 39% to 2,101. 2018 saw a temporary halt to the surge in wealth creation.
The number of Chinese billionaires has increased to 325 from just 16 in 2006, and their wealth has almost tripled over the past five years. However, volatility is especially high in China: 2018 saw the wealth of 103 people dip below USD 1 billion, while “only” 56 new billionaires emerged.
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