The changing faces of billionaires

This report underscores the strategies prevailing billionaires have employed to build and preserve lasting legacies.

The Changing Faces of Billionaires, a joint report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and UBS Group AG, explores the role of women in building lasting financial legacies and how wealth is preserved across multiple generations.

Key findings:

  • The number of female billionaires is growing faster than male billionaires, with Asian female entrepreneurs as the main driver of this development.
  • Great wealth is very volatile — more than half the billionaires of 1995 dropped off the list over the last 20 years. But those who prevailed greatly increased their wealth. Consumer and retail, technology, and financial services are the dominant industries.
  • Three personality traits essential to entrepreneurial success for both genders are smart risk taking, obsessive business focus and dogged determination.
  • The majority of multi-generational billionaires created lasting legacies by keeping the initial business entirely or parts of it. The industry sector often dictates the degree to which one keeps the original business.
  • Two-thirds of billionaires are over 60 years of age and face critical wealth transfer decisions. Over three-quarters of current billionaires have two or more children. To avoid wealth dilution as the next generation and subsequent generations grow larger, a clear wealth preservation strategy is required to ensure the creation of long-term legacies.
  • Protecting billionaires’ legacies also requires coping with outside forces. Anti-wealth sentiment in politics, growing taxes and increasingly stringent global regulations pose the biggest threats to billionaires’ wealth.
  • Clear governance structures are necessary to preserve and grow wealth through future generations. To ensure long-term success, managerial competence must override family ties.

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CPA Canada


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