Key findings:

  • Ninety five percent of billionaires surveyed believe that they should use their wealth and/or resources to help tackle global challenges, with more than two thirds seeing it as their duty to “lead the way”
  • Billionaires see the greatest opportunities to make an impact in smart agriculture, clean water and poverty alleviation
  • There has been significant fluctuation in the billionaire population globally reflecting the disruptive business and financial environment.

UBS has today published the Billionaire Ambitions Report 2022. For the first time, the report surveys billionaire clients of UBS, revealing their views, goals, and expectations. The research found that billionaires are aiming to apply their capital and problem-solving skills to society’s greatest challenges.

Leading the way and delivering a legacy of impact

Ninety-five percent of billionaires believe they have a responsibility to tackle environmental and societal challenges, with more than two thirds seeing it as their duty to “lead the way”. Clients saw the greatest opportunities to make a difference in smart agriculture, and clean water & sanitation, as well as the broader areas of economic development and poverty alleviation. Education and talent development were also viewed as an area of opportunity for making positive impact by billionaires.

Often working together with likeminded businesspeople, philanthropists, and governments to develop new models or prototypes, the ways in which billionaires seek to engineer change vary. Most commonly, almost half of the clients surveyed use their business capital to address challenges ranging from cutting greenhouse gases, to treating wastewater, and improving access to education. This aligns with their entrepreneurial strengths. Just over a third of billionaires do so via investing and roughly the same proportion through philanthropy.

The growing emphasis on solving environmental and societal challenges, often through collaboration, is reflected in a rethinking of legacy. Three quarters of the billionaires surveyed favour passing down their values and principles to the next generation. Almost half said that it’s important to help future generations, with a third stating that they wanted to use their resources to have a positive impact on the world.

As businesspeople and investors, a significant proportion of respondents think that addressing global challenges helps them to combine their values and financial returns. Similarly, a third believe this to be the source of the best future investment returns.

“We’re living through an era where instability and innovation collide. This has created a cohort of billionaires with a high level of technical expertise, who first and foremost see themselves as problem-solvers,” said George Athanasopoulos, Head of Global Family and Institutional Wealth at UBS. “Like everyone else, they are concerned about the challenges facing the world, and they are in an ideal position to use their entrepreneurial capital to deliver fresh approaches and effective ways of doing what’s needed to tackle these issues. They are optimistic about the role that private enterprise can play alongside governments in creating a positive impact for future generations.”

Pioneering food production that is kinder to the environment and feeds the world

Not all solutions to global challenges are revolutionary. There are many less well-known initiatives, and the report highlights some of the sectors making a difference. For many billionaires, enhancing food security is a natural problem to address, as they own tracts of farmland. This is clear from the significant proportion of clients who see smart agriculture as one of the areas where they can have the greatest impact, working in collaboration with others. This approach can be seen for example, in companies associated with billionaires trialing ways to cut herbicide use through targeted spraying and developing smart rice farming technology.

The research shows that billionaires are most active at the beginning of the farm-to-table value chain, where they see great potential for agricultural technology (“AgTech”) to help transform productivity and reduce environmental damage. Taking what’s often a venture capital type approach, billionaires are deploying data, artificial intelligence, and automation to engineer a new productivity paradigm. Once widely adopted and scaled up, AgTech has the potential to help solve the problem of feeding a growing population on limited resources.

Exceptional fluctuations in the billionaire population, yet the rise of the innovators continues

The total number of billionaires globally has slightly declined in a volatile environment. As of March 2022, when the data was compiled, there were 2,668 billionaires versus 2,755 in the previous year. In 2022, 360 saw their wealth dip below a USD one billion, while 273 reached that level. Total billionaire wealth slipped from USD 13.1 trillion in 2021 to USD 12.7 trillion in 2022. However, the total wealth and number of billionaires is likely to have fallen further since March 2022 due to declines in asset prices.

The two most populated sectors, finance and investments (392 billionaires), and technology (348 billionaires), experienced some of the highest rates of change. Fifty new billionaires were created in finance and investments, and 30 disappeared. Among the new billionaires were fintech disruptors, as well as private equity and hedge fund partners. There were 41 new tech billionaires while 57 disappeared. This fluctuation reflects the dynamism of a sector where barriers to entry are low, and innovation is perpetual.

Manufacturers also flourished amid extraordinary demand for durable goods, as well as the emergence of new electric vehicle and battery entrepreneurs. There were 338 manufacturing billionaires in 2022 worth a total USD 1.1 trillion, with 44 new joiners and 37 who disappeared.

Shifting regional fortunes

The billionaire population in Asia Pacific was still the largest but the number of billionaires slipped to 1084, down 59 from the previous year. In terms of total wealth, Asia Pacific was the second largest region. Total wealth in this region was down nearly 10% to USD 4.2 trillion. India’s billionaire population flourished as it overtook the UK to become the fifth largest economy in 2022. As of March 2022, the country had 166 billionaires, up from 140 the previous year.

The United States, home to about a third of billionaires, was resilient with 735, up from 724 in 2021. Total wealth rose by nearly 7% to USD 4.7 trillion.

Wealth was flat across Western Europe at a total of USD 2.3 trillion, with the number of billionaires falling from 474 to 467 year on year. In Switzerland, the total number of billionaires remained steady, with their combined wealth rising by a quarter to USD 181.9 billion. Eastern Europe saw notable changes resulting from the war between Russia and Ukraine. The region’s number of billionaires dropped from 154 to 127, with total wealth dropping by over a third to USD 455 USD billion.

In the Middle East and Africa, overall wealth rose by 7.5% to USD 279.4 billion, although the number of billionaires fell from 91 in 2021 to 89 in 2022.

To learn more and download the report, visit:




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