For the world's billionaires, a return to growth

Key Takeaways:

  • Globally, the total wealth of billionaires rose by 17% in 2016. Asian billionaires now outnumber their U.S. counterparts, but the U.S. still retains the greatest concentration of wealth.*
  • Peer networks are becoming increasingly important as a way to orchestrate deals and access funding.*
  • Billionaires are also playing a growing role in the arts and sports.*

What a difference a year makes.

After falling in 2015, global billionaire wealth roared back by 17% last year—double the rate of the MSCI World Index. Leading the way were Asia’s billionaires, who for the first time outnumber their U.S. counterparts, even as the U.S. retains the greatest concentration of wealth.*

These are some of the findings from the latest UBS Group AG and PwC joint annual billionaires insights report, “New value creators gain momentum,”  which explores the drivers behind this growth and some emerging trends.

"The magnitude of the Asia story was very surprising," said John Mathews, UBS Head of Private Wealth Management and Ultra High Net Worth, in an interview on UBS WMA On-Air. In fact, a new billionaire is created every two days—an "unprecedented rate."

Still, in the U.S. and elsewhere, the era of the entrepreneur remains strong, with self-made billionaires comprising the majority of new entrants. Technology was the biggest driver of wealth creation, as is to be expected in the country whose entrepreneurs have pioneered technological innovation.*

"Not only is America still known as the American dream," Mathews said, "it's still alive and well—and it's thriving. We live in the land of innovation."
(Listen to the full podcast, "The Billionaires Report: How billionaires are building wealth & creating lasting legacies."

Other key findings from the 2017 report:

  • The ranks of U.S. billionaires grew by 25, to 563 individuals, since last year. All told, billionaire wealth in the U.S. has grown 15% in that time, amounting to $2.8 trillion.*
  • Technology was the biggest driver of billionaire wealth creation in 2016, followed by financial services and then materials.*
  • Peer networks are playing an increasingly important role for billionaires seeking to orchestrate new deals and access significant funding outside of capital markets. Elite philanthropic and impact investing networks are emerging.*
  • Billionaires are creating alternative legacies through cultural pursuits. Their growing engagement in the arts as well as investing in sports clubs is boosting the accessibility of cultural institutions and delivering benefits to the communities they are part of.*

For more findings, read the full report.  

Now in its third year, the billionaires report draws upon UBS and PwC’s extensive networks, and aims to better understand the billionaire population globally to better serve our clients.

Do you know what it takes to manage your wealth for continuity and create a lasting legacy? Together we can find an answer. Connect with your UBS Financial Advisor today or find one