Growth of billionaires in Latin American stagnates

13 November 2018 3 min. read
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Despite the fact that globally the amount of wealth amassed by the world’s richest people – billionaires – grew at record rates, Latin America only produced one new billionaire last year.

Billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its greatest-ever increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to $8.9 trillion shared among 2,158 individuals, according to the ‘Billionaires Insights’ study from UBS Global Wealth Management (UBS) and global professional services firm PwC. Despite healthy growth in the North Americas and China, Latin America failed to add more than one to its list of billionaires. 

As it stands, there are currently 84 billionaires in Latin America of the 2,158 worldwide. Whilst the majority of global wealth is still held in North America, the slowing rate of billionaires in the U.S. in comparison to years prior indicates that a new global player is on the rise. Total wealth of billionaires by region

In 2018, Asia experienced the greatest growth in numbers with Greater China alone adding 57 billionaires to its list which now stands at 475. Overall, the number of ultra high net worth individuals increased by 9% in both the Americas and in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, only to be eclipsed by Asia Pacific (APAC), with a growth of 20%. 

Latin America’s rich-list regulars, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverín, and founder of Mercado Libre, Marcos Galperin, were joined by Luis Frias this year, who is the chairman of PagSeguro Digital. Frias, a Brazilian Fintech entrepreneur, controls a $3.1 billion stake in PagSeguro – an online payment service which operates throughout Latin America.

Frias’ entry to the billionaire’s club also highlights a global phenomenon of self-made entrepreneurs who are dominating wealth production. Of the world’s newest billionaires for the past year, 199 of them were self-made, with according to the analysis report nearly 30 percent of those generating wealth through innovation and business model disruption.Number of billionaires in the world

“We are experiencing a new wave of entrepreneurship worldwide, with billionaires at the vanguard of innovation. They are creating jobs and prosperity, but their impact goes beyond economics. A new generation is emerging, and they see an opportunity to tackle some of the greatest environmental and societal challenges facing humankind,” said Josef Stadler, Head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.

As a regional breakdown, Latin America’s billionaires are from six countries with the most hailing from Brazil, followed by Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela – although neither of Venezuela’s billionaires live in the country. The richest person in the region is Carlos Slim – the self-made Mexican businessman of Lebanese migrants – whose total fortune equates to roughly $57.8 billion.

With Latin America’s push in tech entrepreneurship and a large focus on everything digital – from nearshoring to Fintech and blockchain technologies – the region could follow in the footsteps of rapidly growing China. As proves to be seen, with the stabilization of the Argentinian, Mexican and Brazilian markets and the unprecedented growth of new, disruptive business models emerging, the region’s ultra-rich-list looks set to continue its growth.