The world’s richest people are feeling the pinch as their total wealth dropped by an eye-watering $300 billion last year.
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But they are a long way from having to cut expenses and live within their means as their total wealth still stands at $5.1 trillion.
Much of the change in fortune was mainly on paper as the strengthening US dollar, falling commodity prices and moving assets between family members were cited as the main causes of lower net worth.
The average billionaire has a personal net worth of $3.7 billion – $300 million down on the previous year.
A new billionaire every three days
Only one new billionaire emerged in the US during the year, while one joined the ranks of the world’s richest every three days in Asia. China accounted for 113 of these new Asian billionaires.
The figures come from the Swiss bank UBS and financial accountancy PwC Billionaire’s Report.
The report warns the world is gearing up for the largest-ever wealth transfer as 460 billionaires are likely to die or hand over their wealth to their families and loved ones during the next 20 years.
Around $2.1 trillion is expected to change hands, which is equivalent to the GDP of India.
In 2015, 210 new fortunes broke the $1 billion barriers, while 160 dipped below, leaving a net 50 new billionaires in an exclusive population of just 1,397 billionaires.
Influence of old money
Since 1995, the fortunes that have waned failed to outlive the second generation of a family – which is a lesson billionaires can learn from Europe, where most of the “old money” families live in Switzerland and Germany.
“Europe’s billionaires stood out for maintaining and passing wealth down to their heirs,” said Josef Stadler, Head Global Ultra High Net Worth, at UBS.
“This is something that regions like Asia, where many more billionaires are first-generation, can learn a lot from, especially as we head into the greatest period of wealth transfer we’ve ever seen. Just as Asian billionaires can gain from the experience of wealth transfer in Europe, there’s much that Europe can learn from the rapid billionaire growth in Asia.”
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