The world’s richest people made more money than ever before last year

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There’s never a bad time to be rich, but 2017 has been the best so far – if you’re already a billionaire that is.

A new report from investment bank UBS and professional services firm PwC has found the world’s richest people upped their wealth by almost a fifth in 2017, with British billionaires upping their income by a quarter.

2,158 billionaires (including 199 new self-made billionaires) grew their combined wealth to more than the GDP of Australia or Spain, and researchers also found a growing trend towards “business families” preserving and growing inherited wealth.

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The self-made billionaires created in 2017

Americas – 38 people Europe, Middle East & Africa – 34 people Asia Pacific – 127 people

Passing through generations

“Three decades of exceptional entrepreneurial activity is creating newly influential families,” the report concludes. “The new Rockefellers and Rothchilds.”

Some 61 people who made it onto the billionaire’s list for the first time were heirs, with the number of multi generational billionaires expected to grow significantly over the forthcoming decade.

Researchers also found that almost two thirds of those on the list who had inherited a family business go on to start entrepreneurial ventures themselves, putting paid to the notion that the “the first generation makes it, the second generation preserves it, and the third generation squanders it”.



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“A major wealth transition has begun,” the report continued. “Over the past five years, the sum passed by deceased billionaires to beneficiaries has grown by an average of 17 per cent each year.”

Britian’s richest in numbers

Number of billionaires – 54 Self made billionaires – 81 percent Drop outs – 3 Total wealth – $201.9 billion

“The calculation is simple. There are 701 billionaires over the age of 70, whose wealth will transition to heirs and philanthropy over the next 20 years, given the statistical probability of average life expectancy.”

“The new generation, born in the internet era, are more willing to take risks,” added one billionaire in the study. “They have more information and can be more courageous about trying new ideas and being entrepreneurial.”

Gallery: The fancy ways billionaires spend their money (Business Insider)

Wealthy few

However, female billionaires remain a small minority, making up just 11 percent of the total, and for some the report highlighted growing inequality.

Speaking to The Times, Ana Caistor Arendar, Oxfam’s head of inequality, said it was proof “there has never before been so much wealth concentrated in the pockets of so few”.

“This is a symptom of an economic system that is failing those at the bottom of the pile, who face a daily struggle to survive on meagre incomes,” she continued, calling on governments to make sure that “everyone receives a fair share of economic growth”.

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