Despite the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the global economy, the world’s richest people actually got richer during the crisis. According to Swiss Bank UBS, the combined wealth of the world’s billionaires soared by 27.5% to $10.2trn (£7.9trn) in 2020.
This increased wealth has come thanks in part to the recovery of stock markets after sharp falls during the beginning of the pandemic. Another major driver is investment in fast-growing areas such as health care and technology.
As a result, there has been a reshuffling at the top of the world’s super rich list. Here’s how the list looks right now.
1. Jeff Bezos (£137bn)
The Amazon guru made history in 2020 by becoming the first person even to be worth over $200bn. Most of his wealth is attributable to the slightly more than 53 million shares of Amazon that he currently owns.
Bezos is also invested in space technology through his company, Blue Origin. In addition, he is the owner of the Washington Post.
2. Elon Musk (£102.5bn)
Musk is the founder and CEO of the space company, SpaceX and also the CEO of electric car manufacturer Tesla. The latter company’s shares have witnessed a meteoric rise this year, which has led to a boost in Musk’s wealth by over $100bn (£75bn) to put him second on the world’s rich list.
3. Bill Gates (£96.5bn)
Gates, the founder of Microsoft has been one of the most dominant forces in the list of the world’s richest people. Between 1995 and 2017, for instance, he was the world’s richest person for all but five of those years.
Over the years, he has sold much of his stake in Microsoft (he currently owns just 1% of the company’s shares) and invested in a variety of other stocks and assets.
4. Marc Zuckerberg (£78.6bn)
The founder of Facebook is among several tech billionaires who have seen their wealth increase exponentially during the pandemic because of more people going online.
Zuckerberg entered the $100bn club (£75bn) for the first time in August this year after a huge surge of Facebook stock (of which he owns 13%).
5. Bernard Arnault (£78.6bn)
This French magnate is the wealthiest European in the list. Arnault currently oversees an empire of more than 70 brands that include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Sephora and Givenchy.
6. Warren Buffett (£66.1bn)
Buffett is often hailed as the one of the world’s greatest investors, having made a lot of money investing in the stock market. He is the CEO and a major shareholder of the massive conglomerate holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.
Most of his wealth is actually tied to his Berkshire Hathaway investment portfolio. The firm owns more than 60 companies including Geico, Duracell and Dairy Queen.
7. Larry Page (£61.9bn)
Larry Page is one of the co-founders of Google. He stepped down as the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet in 2019. He remains a board member as well as a controlling shareholder.
8. Sergey Brin (£60bn)
Brin co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998. He stepped down from his role as president of Alphabet, Google’s parent company in 2019. Like Page, he remains a board member and a controlling shareholder.
9. Steve Ballmer (£58bn)
Ballmer is a former CEO of Microsoft (from 2000 to 2014). He is currently the owner of the NBA franchise Los Angeles Clippers, which he bought after his departure from Microsoft.
10. Mukesh Ambani (£56bn)
Ambani is India’s richest person and the founder and chairman of Reliance Industries. This is an entity that owns the world’s largest oil refining complex. It also has interests in other sectors, such as telecom and retail.
Recently, he was able to raise more than $20bn (£15bn) after selling a third of Reliance’s 4G phone service called Jio to several investors including Google and Facebook.
What can we learn from the world’s richest people?
As we can see, most of the wealth belonging to the world’s richest people has come either come from shares in big companies they own or have founded (Bezos, Musk and Zuckerberg) or from investing in stocks (Buffett).
One thing we can learn from this is that though being a billionaire is probably out of reach for many of us, purchasing a partial ownership stake in big companies, more specifically by buying stocks and shares in them, can be a great step towards building wealth. As the value of these companies increases, so will the return on your investment.
If you’re wondering where and how to get started, we have compiled a list of the best share dealing accounts to help you begin your investment and hopefully your wealth-building journey.
Remember that investing in the stock market always comes with a degree of risk. But at the same time, it carries with it great potential for growth. Some of the world’s richest people, particularly those who have become rich from investing, can attest to this!
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