Europe has slipped behind Asia as a hub for billionaires after failing to keep pace with the “entrepreneurial explosion” occurring in digital and finance sectors, according to a report.
The overwhelming majority of billionaires lived in the US and Europe until 1980, with a minority of entrepreneurs creating their own wealth, according to the UBS/PwC 2015 Billionaire Report.
But the US and Asia have become the main centres of great wealth creation over the past decade, with Europe “faring less well”.
Of the 1,300 billionaires surveyed globally with collective wealth of $5.4tn, some 66 per cent are self-made billionaires, compared with 43 per cent 20 years ago.
While most of the new billionaires are based in the US, a large number of entrepreneurs accruing great wealth is emerging in Asia.
Indeed, the report expects Asia to become the centre of new billionaire wealth creation, due to a number of factors such as being home to younger entrepreneurs.
Some 47 per cent of self-made billionaires were resident in the US in 2014, compared with 36 per cent in Asia. Europe sits in third place with 17 per cent of the self-made billionaire population.
Josef Stadler, head of global ultra high net worth at UBS, said we live in an age of opportunity and accelerated wealth creation, similar to the gilded age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“But wealth generation is cyclical, and over the last few decades we have benefited from being on a strong arc of the cycle,” he added.
Entrepreneurs in the US have amassed their fortunes by driving the global revolution in finance and technology, while Asia’s tycoons have spurred the region’s industrial and consumer sector growth.
Europe has not participated in this second “gilded age” — an era of wealth creation following industrial innovation in the early 1900s — to such a degree, the report said.
However, with an average wealth of $5.7bn, the European entrepreneurs are still wealthier than those in Asia, with $3.2bn.
In the US, the financial services sector is the dominant source of new fortune, spawning 30 per cent of self-made billionaires in the country since 1995.
Technology billionaires are twice as rich in the country, averaging $7.8bn in wealth compared with the financiers’ average of $4.5bn.
In Europe the consumer industry dominates, constituting nearly half of the region’s self-made billionaires, and in terms of average wealth, at $5.7bn.
Technology entrepreneurs rank a distant second, the report said, making up a far smaller proportion of the population at less than 10 per cent and with lower average wealth of $3.8bn.
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