Falling Markets Cut Ranks Of World's Billionaires – UBS Study

Editorial Staff December 9, 2022

Falling Markets Cut Ranks Of World's Billionaires – UBS Study

Inevitably, the falls in equity and other markets during 2022 hit the number of billionaires around the world.

The total number of billionaires globally fell as markets tumbled, according to a report from UBS issued yesterday. 

As of March 2022, when the Swiss bank compiled the figures, there were 2,668 billionaires, down from 2,755 12 months before. In 2022, 360 people fell below the $1.0 billion mark, while 273 reached that level. 

Total billionaire wealth slipped from $13.1 trillion in 2021 to $12.7 trillion in 2022, the Billionaire Ambitions Report 2022 said.

UBS noted that the total wealth and number of billionaires is likely to have fallen further since March due to declines in asset prices. The MSCI World Index of developed countries' equities (in dollars) has fallen 16.58 per cent in the year to December 7.

The two most populated sectors, finance and investments (392 billionaires), and technology (348 billionaires), witnessed some of the highest rates of change. Fifty new billionaires were created in finance and investments, and 30 disappeared. Among the new billionaires were fintech disruptors, as well as private equity and hedge fund partners. There were 41 new tech billionaires while 57 disappeared. 

Manufacturers also flourished amid extraordinary demand for durable goods, as well as the emergence of new electric vehicle and battery entrepreneurs. There were 338 manufacturing billionaires in 2022 worth a total $1.1 trillion, with 44 new joiners and 37 who disappeared.

Shifting regional fortunes
The billionaire population in Asia-Pacific was still the largest but the number of billionaires slipped to 1084, down 59 from the previous year. In terms of total wealth, Asia-Pacific was the second largest region. Total wealth in this region fell almost 10 per cent to $4.2 trillion. India’s billionaire population flourished as it overtook the UK to become the fifth largest economy in 2022. As of March 2022, India had 166 billionaires, up from 140 the previous year.

The US, home to about a third of billionaires, had 735 such persons, rising from 724 in 2021. Total wealth rose by nearly 7 per cent to $4.7 trillion.

Wealth was flat across Western Europe at a total of $2.3 trillion, with the number of billionaires falling from 474 to 467 year-on-year. In Switzerland, the total number of billionaires remained steady, with their combined wealth rising by a quarter to $181.9 billion. Eastern Europe saw notable changes resulting from the war between Russia and Ukraine. The region’s number of billionaires dropped from 154 to 127, with total wealth dropping by over a third to $455 billion.

In the Middle East and Africa, overall wealth rose by 7.5 per cent to $279.4 billion, although the number of billionaires fell from 91 in 2021 to 89 in 2022.

ESG and values
UBS also spoke to its billionaire clients for the report, canvassing 50 for their views on how to approach global challenges. 

Some 95 per cent of billionaires said they are responsible for tackling environmental and societal challenges, with more than two thirds seeing it as their duty to “lead the way.” Clients saw the greatest opportunities for making a difference in “smart agriculture,” clean water and sanitation, as well as economic development and poverty alleviation. 

“They are in an ideal position to use their entrepreneurial capital to deliver fresh approaches and effective ways of doing what’s needed to tackle these issues. They are optimistic about the role that private companies can play alongside governments in creating a positive impact for future generations,” August Hatecke, co-head wealth management, Asia-Pacific, UBS Global Wealth Management, country head, UBS Singapore, said (pictured).

The report said that education and talent development were also viewed as an area of opportunity for making positive impact by billionaires.

Register for FamilyWealthReport today

Gain access to regular and exclusive research on the global wealth management sector along with the opportunity to attend industry events such as exclusive invites to Breakfast Briefings and Summits in the major wealth management centres and industry leading awards programmes