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Billionaire Wealth Falls First Time in a Decade

By Alex Padalka October 14, 2016

Financial advisors to super-rich Americans have less money to manage thanks to a significant drop in billionaire wealth last year, according to a recent report by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The U.S. added only five billionaires in 2015, bringing the total to 538. But their overall wealth fell from $2.6 trillion to $2.4 trillion, according to the study which included analysis of 1,397 billionaires globally, and interviews with 30 billionaires, 30 heirs and 20 advisors of billionaires.

Global billionaire wealth dropped by $300 billion in 2015 to $5.1 trillion even as the number of billionaires on the planet inched up 50 to 1,397, according to the study. The average billionaire’s wealth dropped to $3.7 billion from $4 billion, according to the study.

Financial advisors to billionaire clients have yet more cause for pessimism: among billionaire heirs, 70% become mere millionaires during their lifetimes, according to study.

Another 20% lose that important comma by the third generation, the study found. In the U.S., there are 175 multi-generational billionaires, according to the study. Meanwhile, the average wealth of a self-made U.S. billionaire ($4.5 billion) surpassed the average wealth of a billionaire who was born into it ($4.3 billion) for the first time in 10 years, the study found.