China is churning out a new billionaire every 5 days


The collective wealth of the world's billionaires rose by 17% in 2016 to US$6 trillion after falling the year before, according to the UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2017 published Thursday.

The world's billionaires altogether hired at least 27.7 million people globally, roughly the size of the U.K.'s working population.

China's new billionaires helped boost Asian membership of the ultrawealthy club to 637 past year, compared to 563 in the US, according to the firms' annual Billionaires Insight Report.

A notable trend across the billionaire board is a concern about the perception of wealth in a world where the gap between rich and poor is increasing.

This will be even more important when an estimated $2.4 trillion of billionaire wealth is expected to be transferred in the next two decades, notes Widrig, who adds: 'Technology, the creation of social networks and high-profile examples of philanthropic peers have all had an impact on this exclusive group'. And the average wealth of Chinese billionaires was US$2.5 billion.

The surge in wealth by the world's billionaires far surpassed broader economic growth or stock markets.

Although the region still lags the wealth held by billionaires collectively, the assets are being accumulated at twice the American rate, helping global wealth return to a trajectory of growth. Should that pace continue, Asia would overtake the United States as the world's largest concentration of wealth in four years.

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Three quarters of those who newly became billionaires in 2016 were from China and India, the findings showed.

"A combination of geopolitical stability in Greater China, rising Chinese real estate prices, infrastructure spending, the growing middle class and buoyant commodity prices all joined together to boost wealth", the report said, citing interviews with Asia's richest people.

While China accounted for 20 per cent of total billionaires, 43 per cent of those that fell off the list past year were from China, said James Chang, financial services consulting leader at PwC China.

'It's not enough anymore to just preserve and grow wealth, ' says Dr Marcel Widrig, partner and private wealth leader at PwC.

Most billionaires today are self-made entrepreneurs.

The study credits the resurgence in global wealth a year ago to the recovery in commodity prices as well as the burgeoning technology sector. Moreover, the wealth possessed by them increased from $5.1 trillion to $6 trillion.

The report found that billionaires are creating legacies for themselves through their cultural pursuits and are becoming more engaged in the arts and, increasingly, investing in sports clubs.