The ranks of the world’s wealthy welcomed 155 new billionaires to their ranks this year, according to new research.
A study by Swiss Bank UBS and research firm Wealth-X puts the number of billionaires at 2,325 – 7% up on last year’s total.
Astonishingly, this elite group have a combined wealth of £4.5 trillion, which is more than the total market capitalisation of every company on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
The study shows Europe is home to most billionaires, with 775 living in the region. Europe also hosts the most billionaire wealth, worth more than £1.4 trillion.
The latest survey sees former leader North America pushed into second place.
Where the richest people live
Meanwhile, in Asia, the number of billionaires is continuing to rise, with nearly a 20% increase in wealth during the past 12 months. Asia welcomed 52 new billionaires to the top table of the world’s wealthiest individuals, with 33 coming from China.
The world billionaire rankings are:
- USA – 571 billionaires
- China – 190
- UK – 130
- Germany – 123
The figures disclose 39% of the world’s billionaires live in one of these four countries, but did not necessarily make their fortunes there.
Other billionaire facts from the survey include:
- The number of billionaires in the Middle East dropped by almost 2%, but the wealth of the region’s richest individuals increased by almost 17%
- Around 35% of the world’s billionaires live in just 20 cities, and rather than travel between countries, billionaires shift between these cities.
- Just 5% of all billionaires are worth more than £6 billion
- The average billionaire is worth around £2 billion and aged 63 years old
- Only 12.7% of all billionaires – around one in eight – are women
“When we speak to ultra-high net worth customers, the same questions keep coming up,” said Simon Smiles of UBS.
They want to know how to invest their cash in a zero interest rate world, how to safeguard their wealth against inflation and how to invest to gain good returns that are not linked to equity markets.”
Smiles argues that the only way to achieve a higher return is for billionaires to take more risk with their investments.
“The three tools to generate returns all come with risk – interest rates, credit risk or currency risk,” he said. “Many billionaire clients like long-term, direct investments which give them better control of risk.”