This report’s findings, which build upon UBS/PwC’s Billionaires Report released in May 2015, "Master architects of great wealth and lasting legacies," revealed that the number of female billionaires is growing faster than the number of their male counterparts. Women have been controlling greater average wealth than men and becoming more influential in family businesses, philanthropic enterprises and governance. The report also highlights the fleeting nature of great wealth, finding that only 126 billionaires or 44% of the class of 1995 are billionaires today. It underscores the strategies these prevailing billionaires have employed to build and preserve lasting legacies.
Looking back 20 years, we surveyed 1,300 people in the 14 markets that account for 75% of global billionaire wealth.
Reflecting what we call the Athena Factor, the number of female billionaires is growing, as is their influence as wealth creators and champions of philanthropy. The number of female billionaires grew by a factor 6.6 from 1995 to 2014, and the number of men by a smaller factor of 5.2. While most female billionaires come from the US and Europe, Asia has the greatest growth in number of self-made female billionaires. Over 80% of female billionaires are coming from the US and Europe. More than 50% of Asian female billionaires are self-made, compared to 19% in the US and 7% in Europe.
Just 44% of 1995’s class of billionaires remained in this bracket of great wealth in 2014, showing the volatility of billionaire fortunes. Illustrating how fortunes fluctuate and the global billionaire population has changed, they represent less than 10% of 2014’s 1,347 billionaires. Death, dilution of wealth and business difficulties account for the precariousness of entrepreneurs’ fortunes. From 1995’s class of 289 billionaires, 66 have died, 24 fortunes have been lost through family dilution and a further 73 have disappeared due to business problems and other reasons.
More women, more wealth creation
Although female billionaires remain a minority, the growing opportunities for women to accumulate wealth suggests female entrepreneurs will drive significant growth in the number of billionaire women.
Tough decisions lie ahead
With the increased complexity of regulations and taxes and two-thirds of billionaires over age 60, sustaining legacies may be the most difficult and immediate challenge for today’s billionaires.
The changing faces of billionaires, which offers new insights into billionaires.