Canadians gain amid "great polarization" for world's billionaires

UBS and PwC have published their latest annual survey of billionaire wealth

Canadians gain amid "great polarization" for world's billionaires
Steve Randall

This year has disrupted business like no other with the unique circumstances igniting some industries while decimating others.

Around the world the fortunes of the wealthiest individuals has either been hit hard or accelerated and this is highlighted in a new report by UBS Wealth Management and PwC.

Billionaires Insights 2020 sees an extended survey period for more than 2,000 billionaires across 43 markets around the world (around 98% of the total billionaire population). This allows the report to cover additional months to include the global lockdown through to the end of July 2020.

Asset price increases have contributed to total billionaire wealth growing to US$10.2 trillion at the end of July, smashing the previous peak for the annual report ($8.9tr in 2017). The billionaires population totalled 2,189.

But, just as the pandemic has highlighted inequalities among many sectors of society, not all billionaires’ fortunes are built equally with some set for great gains while others will lag.

“Those that are the innovators and the disruptors, the architects of creative destruction in the economy, are still increasing their wealth,” the report says, noting significant gains in fortunes for those invested in tech (50% year-over-year) and healthcare (43%), while “…the net wealth of billionaires in entertainment, financial services, materials and real estate sectors lagged the rest of the universe (10% or less).”

This was the case pre-pandemic but has been exacerbated. The ability of tech and healthcare industries to disrupt economies is helping to create new billionaires.

Financial services open to innovation
Growth sectors include artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things.

While those with fast-rising fortunes are innovating and disrupting, there is still untapped opportunity in other sectors.

Real estate has the lowest share of billionaires who are innovators or disruptors (17%) with financial services the second lowest (37%), suggesting there could be great gains to be made for those that manage to drive the next-generation of these industries.

By comparison, 94% of billionaires in technology are innovators and disruptors along with 54% of industrials.

The report also shows innovation in philanthropy with a small group of billionaires as pioneers and also focusing on sustainability to provide a benchmark for others.

Donations have increased in response to COVID-19 to $7.2 billion from March-June, although this only reflects publicly-made donations and is likely to be higher through private giving.

Canada sees significant gains
Among the top 10 markets for billionaire wealth between 2009 and 2020, Mainland China leads the pack with growth of 1146%.

France is second at 439% while Canada is third at 238%, far exceeding the United States (170%).

Canadian billionaires saw their total wealth in 2020 reach US$178.5 billion.

The full report is available at: