- Some industries produce a lot more ultrawealthy people than others.
- While some have become billionaires working in the food and beverage sector, a lot more people become extremely rich in real estate.
- Nearly one in five members of the three comma club work in banking or finance.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
People have been able to turn lots of different ideas into billion-dollar businesses, but it’s easier in some fields than others.
As a part of its 2020 Billionaires Census report, research firm Wealth-X analysed its database of thousands of people across the globe with net worths over $US1 billion to see how they made their money.
Keep reading to learn which career fields are most common among the ultrawealthy, according to research firm Wealth-X.
Editor’s note: The top 10 industries here account for 76.5% of all the billionaires in Wealth-X’s database. The remaining 23.5% of billionaires made their fortunes in other industries not listed below.
10. Textiles, Apparel, and luxury goods
Fashion is one of the rarest fields for billionaires, accounting for only 4.3% of their career paths, Wealth-X reports. Those who have succeeded in fashion have become extraordinarily wealthy, however. Two of the 15 richest people in the world – chairman of Louis Vuitton owner LVMH Bernard Arnault and Zara cofounder Amancio Ortega – made their fortunes in fashion, according to Forbes’ real-time Billionaires List.
9. Hospitality and entertainment
Only 4.5% of high net worth individuals got rich working in hospitality and entertainment, Wealth-X reports. Former street performer Guy Laliberté built a $US1.2 billion fortune after growing his Montreal-based circus troupe into the multibillion-dollar entertainment empire known as Cirque du Soleil, starting with only a $US1 million arts grant, Business Insider previously reported.
8. Non-profit and social organisations
Over 4.9% of wealthy people work for nonprofits full time, according to Wealth-X. However, many of them initially made their fortunes elsewhere, like Bill and Melinda Gates.
Tech billionaires such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page might be some of the most famous members of the three comma club in the world, but relatively few wealthy people made their money from technology. Only 5.6% of people with net worths over $US5 million made their fortunes in tech, according to Wealth-X.
Just 5.6% of wealthy people made their fortunes in the manufacturing sector, according to Wealth-X.
That group includes Diane Hendricks, who made a $US7.8 billion fortune running roofing, window, and siding producer ABC Supply, per Forbes.
Only 5.7% of wealthy people with fortunes over $US5 million made their money in the healthcare industry, according to Wealth-X. The $US18.1 billion net worth of Ernesto Bertarelli, the richest person in Switzerland, is from his stake in pharmaceutical company Serono, per Bloomberg.
4. Food and beverages
A mere 5.7% of wealthy people made their fortunes in food service, according to Wealth-X. Daniel Lubetzky created the first KIND bar after trying a snack bar made with whole fruits and nuts while on a business trip in Australia and has since built a $US1.2 billion fortune selling the bars and other snacks, according to Forbes.
3. Real estate
According to Wealth-X, 7.6% of wealthy people made their money in real estate. With a net worth of $US7.6 billion, Stephen Ross is the wealthiest real-estate developer in America, The Real Deal reported in 2019.
2. Industrial conglomerates
Industrial conglomerates have minted 12.8% of the world’s billionaires, according to Wealth-X.
Warren Buffett made his $US72.7 billion fortune investing in a wide variety of businesses, including insurer Geico and fast-food staple Dairy Queen, that he has assembled into conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.
1. Banking and finance
More ultrawealthy people work in banking and finance than any other industry, according to Wealth-X. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is among the 19.8% of wealthy people worth over $US5 million who made their money in the financial sector.
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