The World’s Billionaires Became 20% Richer in 2017

Leading the way Alibaba chairman Jack Ma at a conference in Yunqi Cloud Town in Hangzhou China

More than three new billionaires were minted weekly in Asia past year, and China led the way by creating two new billionaires a week, the report found.

The rise in collective wealth was powered by growth in China. "But this is just the beginning", said Josef Stadler, head of ultra-high net worth at UBS wealth management.

The world's billionaires experienced the biggest wealth increase ever in 2017, with aggregate wealth among these 2,158 (and counting) individuals growing by $1.4 trillion to $8.9 trillion, a 19% leap, according to the 5th annual Billionaires Insight Report from UBS and PwC. 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.

"The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age", the report reads.

The number of billionaires in Singapore has remained stable at 22, with just one new addition - Min-Liang Tan, co-founder of gaming hardware company Razer Inc.

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Sixty percent of new billionaires are self-made innovators and business leaders.

UBS, whose wealth management arm manages around US$2.5 trillion in assets, and PwC said there were already more billionaires in Asia than in the United States and they were on course to be wealthier than their USA peers within three years. There are 475 billionaires in Greater China and 373 within China.

The United States, which followed China, produced 53 billionaires in 2017, said the report.

What's more, 332 billionaires were minted in 2017, a rate of nearly a person-per-day joining the three-comma club. His wealth is listed at US$1.1 billion, and he is the youngest at 40. "The continued progress of wealth creation is supported by government policies liberating the economy, while urbanisation and business model disruption has crafted powerful new entrepreneurs". He said the trend "helps to perpetuate the relevance of family business" and is likely to help families preserve and grow wealth past the third generation.

"We expect the bull market to continue, but we need to pay close attention to global dynamics that could pose disruptions in coming months, such as further rate hikes.and trade disruptions", he added. Almost two thirds (62 percent) of billionaires' sons and daughters who inherited the family business in 2017 sought to become entrepreneurs, compared with 42 percent who inherited assets. Of the 53 new billionaires in the U.S. a year ago, 30 were described as self-made. Wealth transition from just five families accounted for 30 percent of the continent's wealth expansion.

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