Ottawa urged to step up fight against tax cheats

The world’s richest people saw a drop in their collective wealth over the past year, according to a new report from UBS Group AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The report finds that total billionaire wealth declined by US$300 billion in 2015 to US$5.1 trillion and average billionaire wealth fell from US$4 billion to US$3.7 billion “due to headwinds such as the transfer of assets within families, commodities price deflation and an appreciating U.S. dollar.”

In addition, the average wealth of self-made U.S. billionaires surpassed the average wealth of those who inherited their fortunes for the first time in 10 years, the report says.

The overall billionaire population increased modestly during the year, as 210 new billionaires were created and 160 dropped off the list for a net increase of 50, to 1,397 billionaires. Half of the new billionaires were created in China.

“Led by a technology sector on the rise, China minted 80 new billionaires in 2015 and Asia, overall, created a new billionaire nearly every three days,” says Josef Stadler, head of global ultra-high net-worth with UBS, in a statement.

Looking ahead, the report indicates that the greatest transfer of wealth in human history is on tap, with 460 billionaires transferring US$2.1 trillion to their heirs during the next 20 years.

The report notes that Europe has the greatest number of multigenerational billionaires (182), and they have proven to be the most resilient at preserving their fortunes. The U.S. has 175 multi-generational billionaires, and there are 76 in Asia.

“As the shockwaves from regulatory upheaval in the EU continue to trigger global currency fluctuations, strategic planning becomes even more crucial for wealth preservation. Those who control assets face tough investment questions,” says Michael Spellacy, global wealth leader with PwC U.S., in a statement.

Photo copyright: ltjf/123RF