Oceania’s billionaire club grows by nine

14 November 2018 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read
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The world’s rich-list got even richer this year and Oceania with its relatively low population density took its fair share of the pie. Of the 332 new billionaires this year, 9 were from Australia or New Zealand.

Around the world, billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its greatest-ever increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to USD 8.9 trillion shared among 2,158 individuals, according to the ‘Billionaires Insights 2018’ study from UBS Global Wealth Management (UBS) and global professional services firm PwC.

The biggest wealth accumulation took place in China despite healthy growth in the Americas and Europe. Greater China experienced the largest surge in billionaires with China adding 57 newcomers to the list which was closely followed by South East Asia, were a total of 37 joined the club.

North America is still the greatest hub of ultra hight net worth individuals – with a total number of billionaires sitting at 631 – having added 32 this year. Whilst this may be higher than the 475 strong ultra-rich in China, it does represent a significant shift. Over the past few years the Chinese have dominated both North America and Europe in terms of wealth creation.

Combined, Asia Pacific or APAC is home to more of the world’s rich-list than either the Americas (North, Central & South America as well as the Caribbean) or EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Number of billionaires in the world

“Asia's billionaires are young and relentless,” said Ravi Raju, the Head of Asia Pacific Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management. “They are constantly transforming their companies, developing new business models and shifting rapidly into new sectors.

Raju also touches on the fact that more and more new billionaires are self-made. “This cohort is overwhelmingly self-made and determined to capitalise on one of history’s greatest moments for new enterprise.”

Of the 332 new billionaires over the past year, 199 are entrepreneurs. This presents a picture of a new generation of wealth creation largely due to tech entrepreneurship. A trend that is influencing far beyond Silicone Valley.

Amongst the usual suspects on the list – including Gina Rinehart, Harry Triguboff and Anthony Pratt – is newcomer Mike Cannon-Brookes. Cannon-Brookes is one of Australia’s richest individuals with an estimated $5 billion due to the successful initial public offering of his tech company Atlassian Inc. Just two years after Atlassian’s IPO, the company has now topped $10 billion.

Total wealth of billionaires by region

“We are experiencing a new wave of entrepreneurship worldwide, with billionaires at the vanguard of innovation. They are creating jobs and prosperity, but their impact goes beyond economics,” said Josef Stadler, Head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.

“A new generation is emerging, and they see an opportunity to tackle some of the greatest environmental and societal challenges facing humankind,” he continued. A local example of this is Cannon-Brookes recent investment into solar energy in Victoria and Queensland. The tech entrepreneur also announced earlier this week his plans to lobby the Australian government on energy policy with his new movement “Fair Dinkum Power”.

The Chinese century

Far overshadowing Oceania’s recent gains however is China. “Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raising living standards,” said Ravi Raju.

It might sound almost impossible but back in 1997, China did not have one billionaire. Today they have 373 having brought an inexplicable amount of wealth to the country. What may be even more surprising is that an overwhelming majority of 97% are self made billionaires. 

“Our report reveals how China is currently the leading country for entrepreneurs to create wealth. Nowhere else has the same combination of a huge population, technology innovation and government support,” said Dr. Marcel Widrig, Partner and Private Wealth Leader at PwC.

“We have also found that Next Gen billionaires are extremely entrepreneurial. Using the advantages of a top-tier university education and a global network, they often create their own new businesses combining latest technology with sustainability goals.”

“Further, billionaires are embracing sustainable investing, seeing how it not only does good, but also adds value in their businesses. Indeed, many of the younger generation want to change the world, making an impact through their family offices and philanthropic organisations.”