Greater access to technology is shaking up the ranks of the world’s wealthy, with self-made individuals now far more likely to count themselves as billionaires.
The number of people worldwide with a net worth of more than $1 billion grew by 6.4% in 2015 to reach 2,473, according to a census conducted by Wealth-X, a consultancy that tracks the super-wealthy. More than half of them – 55% – sourced their fortune from business ventures or investments, while self-made billionaires represented 57% of total billionaire wealth.
“Young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs and innovators have been able to amass considerable wealth in short periods of time by engaging with clients through digital channels they are more comfortable with,” the report said. It cited Travis Kalanick and Brian Chesky, the respective CEOs of Uber and Airbnb, as examples.
On the flipside, the number of billionaires with inherited wealth has fallen by 29% since 2014 to comprise 13% of the folks lucky enough to be counted in the exclusive club.
Europe was home to the largest number of billionaires, holding about a third of them, with Asia and North America close behind, holding about a quarter of the total each. Asia, however, housed the fastest-growing proportion, with the number of billionaires residing there jumping by 15.2% last year.
Most billionaires derived their wealth from the financial services sector, although the proportion declined in 2015 to 15.2%, from 19.3% in 2014, amid broader global economic unrest. Billionaires from industrial conglomerates took up some of the slack, the report said.
Other notable findings include:
The gender gap is widening: There are now 8.4 male billionaires for every female billionaire, up from a ratio of 8.1 to 1 in 2014. Of the 148 net billionaire additions in 2015, 140 were male.
Cash is increasingly king: Billionaires are upping their liquidity, with cash currently comprising around 22.2% of their net worth.
Philanthropy is a common passion: billionaires have nominated giving as their favorite hobby. This could partly be due to increased media coverage and recognition of philanthrophic endeavourers pursued by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg.