If your dreams of winning the lottery haven’t panned out just yet, maybe it’s time to rethink your get-rich approach. Instead of having all that money fall into your lap, what if you actually invented something or manipulated your money in the markets to become one of the world’s best billionaires?
Wealth-X released its Billionaire Census, giving us additional insight on what the typical billionaire looks like. Today’s richest humans may be one in a billion — pun intended — but when we look at the common billionaire characteristics, becoming one might not be as far-fetched as you think. In fact, they’re mostly attainable for the average American. Here’s why.
It’s an exclusive club
First off, it’s best if we point out that the three-comma club is quite exclusive. There are only 2,397 individual billionaires worldwide as of 2016, according to Wealth-X, but their combined wealth reaches $7.4 trillion. The financial crisis had these numbers dipping lower than ever before, but global wealth is back on the rise in recent years. Almost 95% of all billionaires fall within Wealth-X’s lowest wealth tiers, $1 billion to $10 billion, but there are five lucky folks who have amassed a total wealth of $50 billion or more. What these numbers tell us is people have become billionaires — and they’ll continue to do so — even as the world economy ebbs and flows.
So, who are they, how to they do it, and what makes you more likely to become one of the few? Let’s take a look at the most common characteristics of today’s billionaires.
1. They’re American
Americans who dream of fame and wealth are in good company. Prior Wealth-X census reports showed the Asia-Pacific region as dominant in its billionaire population. But for 2016, the Americas saw a boost in the billionaire populations, as well as overall wealth. The total net worth of United States billionaires rose to $2.6 trillion, which many equate to the financial boost America received once Donald Trump was elected president.
Next: But where in America do they reside?
2. They live in New York or San Francisco
Residing within American borders makes you more likely to become a billionaire, but which coast you call home could help, as well. Cities, such as New York and San Francisco, seem to attract the most billionaires. New York is home to more billionaires (102) than most countries in the world. Here, you’ll be in good company, likely regarding tycoons, including Michael Bloomberg and David Koch, as mentors. San Francisco houses 60 billionaires, many of whom are thriving in the tech sector of Silicon Valley. Uber founder Travis Kalanick and Facebook and Asana genius Dustin Moskovitz both call San Fran home.
Next: Marriage statistics
3. They’re likely married
One might assume it is difficult for wealthy individuals to find solace in a meaningful relationship, but most billionaires are actually married with children. Unfortunately, the marriage rate for female billionaires is much lower at only 63% compared to nearly 88% of men.
Next: Gender inequality within the billionaire population
4. They’re mostly men
The setbacks don’t stop at marriage for women. Of all the 2,397 billionaires in the world, 2,125 are male, while only 272 are female. The census notes the number of female billionaires declined faster than males in 2016, ultimately reducing the female share of the global billionaire population to a mere 11.3%.
However, there are women who are considered billionaire census yearly staples. Notable affluent women include French L’Oreal cosmetic heiress Liliane Bettencourt and Alice Walton, whose father, Sam Walton, founded Walmart.
Next: Where is their money coming from?
5. They’re self-made
To be a billionaire, you must have grit. The past couple decades of wealth creation have stemmed primarily from self-made individuals. But Wealth-X reports it’s men who tend to drive individual earnings, as nearly 60% of male billionaires made their fortunes alone. Nike founder Phil Knight launched his well-to-do brand after a stint in the U.S. Army, and Michael Dell took a meager $1,000 seed fund to build computers under a company that eventually became Dell.
On the other hand, the census says women’s wealth — such as the Walton and Bettencourt families — is more commonly inherited at least for the billionaire population.
Next: Billionaires are who their friends are.
6. They surround themselves with other power players
Wealthy people tend to hang out with other wealthy people. Research tells us that surrounding yourself with people of like minds makes you more apt to achieve your goals. Therefore, one of the most common billionaire characteristics is their ability to network and mingle with other affluent power players that increase their likelihood of success.
Next: The social calendar is serious.
7. They enjoy travel and arts
A billionaire’s social calendar is jammed with swanky parties and notable events. Not only do they have the means to splurge on extravagant entertainment, they also follow high-class and notably expensive sports, such as polo, tennis, the Monaco Grand Prix, and horse racing. For reasons we already discussed, billionaires are more likely to socialize with others in their affluent social sphere. Wealth-X highlights premier events, such as the Monaco Yacht Show and Dubai World Cup, for billionaires to attend.
Next: The industries where most have made their billions
8. They’re active in the finance, banking, and investing industries
Those in the tech sector may carry a higher average net worth ($5.2 billion), but there are more billionaires in the finance, banking, and investing industries than any other. Some of the flushest billionaires made their dough leaning on their financial knowledge to invest in prominent companies. If you know what works, why break the mold? George Soros, for example, has stakes in prosperous companies, including Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook, in addition to his own hedge fund empire, Soros Fund Management.
Next: A billionaire’s morning routine
9. They get up early
It’s safe to say most billionaires don’t waste time procrastinating in bed each morning. While most of us are scrolling through our online feeds trying to wake up, billionaires are seizing the day from the very start. But it’s not anything us common folk can’t adhere to moving forward. For example, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s morning routine includes meditation at 5 a.m., and Richard Branson rises at 5:45 a.m. to exercise.
Next: Where they went to school
10. They probably went to Harvard
Not only do most of the world’s billionaires have a college degree, a large chunk of them attended Ivy League universities or other prestigious institutions. There are many notable moneyed alumni from Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania, but Harvard takes the cake. Almost all billionaire Harvard graduates are men and have amassed an average net worth of $4.7 billion.
Despite the data, we’ll let you decide whether this is an established billionaire characteristic. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard’s hallowed halls before striking it rich on their own. But Harvard or not, economics, business administration, and history are the most common undergraduate majors for today’s billionaires.
Next: How old are billionaires?
11. They’re in their 60s
Given the time and effort it takes to build an empire, it’s no surprise this billionaire characteristic has to do with age. The average age of all billionaires is 64. But perhaps patience is not a virtue for techies. Wealth-X found tech billionaires are much younger than average at 51. Jack Dorsey is only in his 40s, while John Collison, the creator of the e-commerce company Stripe, is in his 20s.
Next: Something everyone can be better at
12. They like to give back
Another key characteristic of this exclusive group is their affinity for charity. Many of these billionaires invest in philanthropic organizations, so they can give back significant portions of their fortunes. Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates created the Giving Pledge to encourage such actions. And the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have both given away sizable chunks of their wealth, as well. Warren Buffet was recently named the most charitable billionaire, offering more than $46 billion since 2000. To put it simply, that’s about 71% of his $65.5 billion fortune.
Next: They solved real issues.
13. They’re solving tech issues
Although many of the world’s billionaires call the financial, banking, and investing industries home, the technology sector is growing fast. The average net worth of tech billionaires reached $5.2 billion in 2016, according to Wealth-X, even though they account for only 115 of the billionaires worldwide. Young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs are making it clear they’re in it for the long haul. Companies, such as Uber, Amazon, and Microsoft, continue to integrate themselves into the retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries.
Next: Why the routine is key
14. They stick to routines
Another common thread in the world’s billionaire population is the tendency to stick to daily routines. Whether it is meditation, gratitude readings, or a steadfast daily uniform, rich people welcome daily monotony to help declutter their minds. Mark Zuckerberg wears the same T-shirt every day, which allows him to focus his energy elsewhere — maybe on where his next billion will come from.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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