Billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its greatest-ever increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to USD 8.9 trillion shared among 2,158 individuals. Despite healthy growth in the Americas and Europe, Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth at nearly double the pace, growing by 39 percent to USD 1.12 trillion.
These findings were published today in UBS and PwC’s joint, annual Billionaires Insights report: New Visionaries and the Chinese Century. Now in its fifth edition, the report draws on UBS and PWC’s extensive client network and access to data, and aims to promote a deeper understanding of the billionaire population globally.
Josef Stadler, Head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management, commented on the new report: “Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raised living standards. But this is just the beginning. China’s vast population, technology innovation and productivity growth combined with government support, are providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals not only to build businesses but also to change people’s lives for the better.”
“We are experiencing a new wave of entrepreneurship worldwide, with billionaires at the vanguard of innovation. They are creating jobs and prosperity, but their impact goes beyond economics. A new generation is emerging, and they see an opportunity to tackle some of the greatest environmental and societal challenges facing humankind.”
The China Phenomenon and its challenge to Silicon Valley:
- There were only 16 Chinese billionaires as recently as 2006. Today, only 30 years after the country’s government first allowed private enterprise, they number 373 – nearly one in five of the global total.
- The Chinese cohort is 97 percent self-made, many of them in sectors such as technology and retail. 89 Chinese entrepreneurs became billionaires in 2017, roughly three times more than in the US and EMEA.
- Billionaires from Asia and especially in China’s city of Shenzhen are now challenging the US’ traditional dominance in technology entrepreneurialism. In 2017, they equalled America’s level of venture capital funding for start-ups, registered four times as many Artificial-Intelligence-related patents and three times as many blockchain and crypto-related patents as their US counterparts.