Our report is one of the most comprehensive studies of this historic era of wealth generation. We analyze data covering more than 1,300 billionaires, looking back 19 years. The data surveys the 14 largest billionaire markets, which account for 75% of global billionaire wealth. Additionally, we have conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 30 billionaires.
Notably, we believe this period of extraordinary wealth generation may soon decelerate. While this analysis is historical, our belief is that the conditions in which billionaires thrive are cyclical. The response to rising inequality, increasing taxes and asset price deflation may all play a part in slowing the current cycle. At the same time, scientific innovation in fields such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and cyber security, as well as the growing needs of an ageing population, suggest that some new opportunities for aspiring billionaires will emerge.
From a demographic point of view, the current generation of billionaires is ageing. Two thirds of them are in the corridor of wealth transfer, with many of them still facing the decision of what their legacies will be. We expect a major upsurge in philanthropy, perhaps even surpassing that at the end of the first ‘Gilded Age’.