UBS And PwC Study: Women Billionaires Grew By 46% Compared To 39% For Men Over Last 5 Years

By Amit Chowdhry ● November 25, 2019
  • UBS and PwC published its Billionaires Insights 2019 Report where it was revealed that women billionaires grew by 46% compared to 39% for men over the past 5 years

In the Billionaires Insights 2019 Report published by UBS and PwC, it was revealed that women billionaires grew by 46% compared to 39% for men in the last five years. The research was conducted by UBS global managing director Josef Stadler, UBS group managing director John S. Mathews, UBS group managing director Ravi Raju, PwC partner Dr. Marcel Tschanz, PwC partner Thomas J. Holly, and PwC partner Julia Leong.

The report is based on an examination of the performance of billionaire-controlled companies and a survey of UBS advisors’ views on their billionaire clients’ current activities. And the company’s research universe covers 2,101 billionaires from 43 countries in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC looking back over two decades. The database includes the 43 largest billionaire markets, which account for around 98% of global billionaire wealth. Plus the companies conducted over 25 interviews with billionaire advisors and face-to-face interviews with over 30 billionaires. A survey was also conducted with over 100 UBS advisors, all of whom work closely with billionaire clients.

Another interesting point made in the report was that over the 15 years to the end of 2018, billionaire controlled companies listed on the equity market returned 17.8% compared to 9.1% of the MSCI ACWI, almost twice the annualized average performance of the market. And their companies are also more profitable as it earns an average return on equity of 16.6% over the last 10 years compared to the 11.3% of the MSCI ACWI. In the view of UBS and PwC, billionaires have three distinct personality traits that benefit businesses: smart risk-taking, business focus, and determination. Billionaires’ enterprises also tend to have a long-term strategy.

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In the past five years to the end of 2018, billionaire wealth grew by over a third (34.5%) thus reaching a total of $8.5 trillion — which is $2.2 trillion higher than five years earlier. During the same period, 589 individuals became billionaires, increasing the population by 38.9% to 2,101. However, billionaire wealth dropped by 4.3% ($388 billion) last year due to a strong US dollar, trade friction, fears of lower economic growth, and financial market volatility.

Women have become billionaires at a faster rate than men in the past five years to the end of 2018. And the number of female billionaires increased by almost half (46%) in the period, rising from 160 to 233. And the number of men expanded by 39%.

UBS and PwC originally identified what is called the “Athena factor” in 2015 and noted that between 1995 and 2014, the number of female billionaires increased by a factor of 6.6 while the number of men increased by a smaller factor of 5.2.

Tech entrepreneurs have injected dynamism into the global economy. And it is no accident that technology is the only industry where billionaire wealth increased in 2018 with a rise of 3.4% to $1.3 trillion. And their net worth nearly doubled over the past five years at a growth of 91.4%.

Entrepreneurs in China have become the world’s second-largest billionaire group over the past five years and overtook Russia’s. Plus wealth almost tripled, growing by 202.6% to reach $982.4 billion. However Chinese billionaires’ net worth declined by 12.3% last year and the number of Chinese billionaires fell by 48 to 325.

A small but growing number of billionaire entrepreneurs have become more ambitious by wanting to make the world a better place by making a significant positive social and environmental impact. These are the same characteristics that drive their business success to address the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Historically, philanthropists acted alone. Think of the golden age of industrialist philanthropy, shaped by Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller. Even now, charitable foundations generally (not just billionaire-related) operate their own programs and activities,” says the report. “But that is changing. Billionaire philanthropists in particular are realizing that the best results are achieved through collaboration – not only with other billionaires, but also with the NGOs, charities, and governmental organizations that have the expertise and access needed to drive change.”

Ten of the world’s top 20 tech billionaires are from the U.S. and four are from China. And the others are from Germany, India, and Japan — each is home to two of the top 20. Some of the freshly minted billionaires include ByteDance (TikTok) founder Zhang Yiming, Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, and Airbnb co-founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia, and Brian Chesky.

Four in 10 of 2018’s self-made female billionaires have built businesses in the consumer and retail sector. For example, Li Haiyan and Shu Ping became billionaires after the 2018 IPO of the Haidilao hotpot restaurant chain — which is expanding outside China. And in the US, Romanian-American Anastasia Soare became a billionaire as the founder of beauty brand Anastasia Beverly Hills. In Russia, former English teacher and mother of four Tatyana Bakalchuk became a billionaire after launching online retailer Wildberries while on maternity leave in 2004.