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Chart: Which Universities Have the Richest Graduates?

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COTW Universities

Chart: Which Universities Have the Richest Graduates?

Higher education is often considered the first rung in the ladder of success.

That’s why thousands of students flock to top-tier universities around the world, hoping to translate their degrees into financial outcomes. After all, a degree from specific institutions can often mean that a wealthy and secure future is in the books.

With a new fall term just around the corner, today’s chart relies on the third annual Wealth-X report ranking of global universities with the most ultra-high net worth (UHNW) alumni. We’ve also tracked their combined wealth, and how much each UHNW alumni makes on average.

Analyzing UHNW Riches

The Wealth-X database defines ultra-high net worth alumni as those who own at least $30 million in assets. In addition, the alumni figures are based on the actual known UHNW individuals from each university, then projected based on the sample size to predict total alumni within the global UHNW population.

One caveat to note is that both bachelor’s and master’s degree-holders have been considered, while UHNW individuals who may have attended more than one university have been counted twice. With that in mind, let’s dive in.

Upholding a Stellar Reputation

It’s immediately noticeable that a majority of universities on the list are located in the United States, with a high concentration on the East Coast—including the elite Ivy League.

Established in 1636, Harvard dwarfs all its Ivy League counterparts for the richest graduates. Its 13,650 UHNW alumni is double that of second-place Stanford (5,580 UHNW alumni), with twice the total wealth to boot.

One way that Harvard falls short is when average UHNW alumni wealth is considered in this chart, with Stanford beating it by a difference of $170 million per graduate. Regardless, it’s clear Harvard graduates go on to have a significant impact on the world. Notable alumni include political leaders such as former U.S. President Barack Obama, and billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg.

Interestingly, Princeton climbs the charts for total alumni wealth ($1.1 trillion), despite a lower UHNW alumni count of just over 2,000—but this also puts its wealth per graduate at a high of $516 million. Notable alumni from Princeton include Jeff Bezos and Steve Forbes. Meanwhile, Brown and Dartmouth are the only Ivy universities that don’t make the list at all.

Excellence Outside the U.S.

Zooming out, private universities dominate most of this list of richest graduates. In the United Kingdom, Cambridge, Oxford, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have over 6,500 UHNW alumni combined. This represents a total of $1.08 trillion in wealth, an average of $174 million per UHNW grad.

Notable alumni and achievements from these institutions include:

  • Cambridge: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking
  • Oxford: 69 Nobel prize winners, Stephen Hawking, JRR Tolkien
  • LSE: 18 Nobel prize winners, including political leaders

*LSE’s label has been misrepresented in the original report as #26 instead of the actual #25.

Nearby in France, the graduate business school Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) has a total of 1,956 UHNW alumni and $356 billion in combined wealth—contributed by CEOs of companies like Credit Suisse, Royal Dutch Shell, Ericsson, and Lego.

It’s impressive that the National University of Singapore (NUS) enters the list, with 1,890 UHNW alumni and an average of $46.6 million to their name. Graduates from NUS have gone on to become Singaporean prime ministers and presidents, as well as high-ranking officials in the WHO and UN Security Council.

Here are the full statistics for the top 25 universities worldwide—does yours make the cut?

RankUniversityTotal WealthUHNW AlumniWealth per UHNW Graduate
1🇺🇸 Harvard University$4.7T13,650$349M
2🇺🇸 Stanford University$2.9T5,580$519M
3🇺🇸 University of Pennsylvania$1.8T5,575$319M
4🇺🇸 Columbia University$1.5T3,925$382M
5🇺🇸 Princeton University$1.1T2,180$516M
6🇺🇸 Massachusetts Institute of Technology$990B2,785$355M
7 🇺🇸 Yale University$777B2,400$323M
8🇺🇸 University of California Berkeley$760B2,385$318M
9🇺🇸 New York University$712B3,380$210M
10🇺🇸 The University of Chicago$707B2,405$293M
11🇺🇸 The University of Michigan$691B1,970$350M
12🇺🇸 The University of Southern California$548B2,645$207M
13🇺🇸 Cornell University$483B2,245$215M
14🇺🇸 The University of Texas at Austin$463B2,195$210M
15🇬🇧 University of Cambridge$390B2,760$141M
16🇺🇸 Northwestern University$389B2,725$142M
17🇺🇸 The University of California Los Angeles$375B1,945$192M
18🇫🇷 Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires$356B1,965$181M
19🇬🇧 University of Oxford$349B2,290$152M
20🇬🇧 London School of Economics and Political Science$342B1,495$228M
21🇺🇸 University of Miami$309B1,700$181M
22🇺🇸 Boston University$277B1,640$168M
23🇺🇸 University of Virginia$246B1,650$149M
24🇺🇸 The University of Notre Dame$179B2,085$85M
25🇸🇬 National University of Singapore$88B1,890$46M

Where’s the Money, Really?

According to the report, a majority of UHNW alumni from these universities are “self-made” millionaires, who became successful through their own efforts rather than relying on family fortune or social status.

Of course, the name of a university is one step to climb on the ladder. What’s often glossed over is how steep the tuition fees at private institutions are, which can rack up significant student debt over time.

Graduates from Boston University, Columbia University, and Northwestern University relied the most on inheritance for their wealth, between 10-12%. A combination of both self-made and inherited wealth sources are also common for UHNW alumni—and it’s not a stretch to say that it helped them pay off debts before focusing on their wealth creation.

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Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country

As the global population ages, pension reform is more important than ever. Here’s a breakdown of how key countries rank in terms of pension plans.

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Ranked: Countries with the Best and Worst Pension Plans

The global population is aging—by 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65.

As our aging population nears retirement and gets closer to cashing in their pensions, countries need to ensure their pension systems can withstand the extra strain.

This graphic uses data from the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) to showcase which countries are best equipped to support their older citizens, and which ones aren’t.

The Breakdown

Each country’s pension system has been shaped by its own economic and historical context. This makes it difficult to draw precise comparisons between countries—yet there are certain universal elements that typically lead to adequate and stable support for older citizens.

MMGPI organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:

  • Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
  • Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from government, and the level of government debt.
  • Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.

These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 37 different countries, representing over 63% of the world’s population.

Here’s how each country ranked:

CountryOverall ValueAdequacySustainabilityIntegrity
Argentina39.543.131.944.4
Australia75.370.373.585.7
Austria53.968.222.974.4
Brazil55.971.827.769.8
Canada69.27061.878.2
Chile68.759.471.779.2
China48.760.536.746.5
Colombia58.461.44670.8
Denmark80.377.58282.2
Finland73.673.260.792.3
France60.279.14156.8
Germany66.178.344.976.4
Hong Kong61.954.554.586.9
India45.839.944.956.3
Indonesia52.246.747.667.5
Ireland67.381.544.676.3
Italy52.267.41974.5
Japan48.354.632.260.8
Korea49.847.552.649.6
Malaysia60.650.560.576.9
Mexico45.337.557.141.3
Netherlands8178.578.388.9
New Zealand70.170.961.580.7
Norway71.271.656.890.6
Peru58.56052.464.7
Philippines43.73955.534.7
Poland57.462.545.366
Saudi Arabia57.159.650.562.2
Singapore70.873.859.781.4
South Africa52.642.34678.4
Spain54.77026.969.1
Sweden72.367.57280.2
Switzerland66.757.665.483
Thailand39.435.838.846.1
Turkey42.242.627.162.8
UK64.46055.384
U.S.60.658.862.960.4

The Importance of Sustainability

While all three sub-indexes are important to consider when ranking a country’s pension system, sustainability is particularly significant in the modern context. This is because our global population is increasingly skewing older, meaning an influx of people will soon be cashing in their retirement funds. As a consequence, countries need to ensure their pension systems are sustainable over the long-term.

There are several factors that affect a pension system’s sustainability, including a region’s private pension system, the state pension age, and the balance between workers and retirees.

The country with the most sustainable pension system is Denmark. Not only does the country have a strong basic pension plan—it also has a mandatory occupational scheme, which means employers are obligated by law to provide pension plans for their employees.

Adequacy versus Sustainability

Several countries scored high on adequacy but ranked low when it came to sustainability. Here’s a comparison of both measures, and how each country scored:

Ireland took first place for adequacy, but scored relatively low on the sustainability front at 27th place. This can be partly explained by Ireland’s low level of occupational coverage. The country also has a rapidly aging population, which skews the ratio of workers to retirees. By 2050, Ireland’s worker to retiree ratio is estimated to go from 5:1 to 2:1.

Similar to Ireland, Spain ranks high in adequacy but places extremely low in sustainability.

There are several possible explanations for this—while occupational pension schemes exist, they are optional and participation is low. Spain also has a low fertility rate, which means their worker-to-retiree ratio is expected to decrease.

Steps Towards a Better System

All countries have room for improvement—even the highest-ranking ones. Some general recommendations from MMGPI on how to build a better pension system include:

  • Increasing the age of retirement: Helps maintain a more balanced worker-to-retiree ratio.
  • Enforcing mandatory occupational schemes: Makes employers obligated to provide pension plans for their employees.
  • Limiting access to benefits: Prevents people from dipping into their savings preemptively, thus preserving funds until retirement.
  • Establishing strong pension assets to fund future liabilities: Ideally, these assets are more than 100% of a country’s GDP.
  • Pension systems across the globe are under an increasing amount of pressure. It’s time for countries to take a hard look at their pension systems to make sure they’re ready to support their aging population.

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How COVID-19 Has Impacted Black-White Financial Inequality

COVID-19 has worsened Black-White financial inequality, with Black Americans more likely to see negative impacts to their job and income.

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Black-White Financial Inequality

How COVID-19 Impacted Black-White Financial Inequality

COVID-19 has disrupted everything from economic markets to personal finances, but not everyone feels its effects equally. When compared with White Americans, Black Americans’ financial situations have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

In this infographic from McKinsey & Co., we outline the financial vulnerabilities of Black Americans, their increased usage of financial services since the onset of the pandemic, and their lower satisfaction levels with those services.

Financial Vulnerabilities of Black Americans

Compared to White Americans, more Black Americans say their job and income have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

 My job has been negatively impacted by COVID-19My income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19
White Americans29%24%
Black Americans36%31%

Looking forward, Black Americans also report greater job security concerns and have less savings to protect themselves financially. In the event of a job loss, 57% of Black Americans report their savings would last four months or less, compared with 44% of White Americans.

With less of a cash buffer on hand, Black consumers are also more likely to have missed a recent bill payment.

 Skipped at least 1 paymentPartially paid at least 1 billPaid in full
White Americans16%22%62%
Black Americans51%22%27%

This includes being unable to pay for basic items such as utilities, telephone and internet, and mortgage payments.

How do they begin to manage these challenges?

Use of Financial Services

Black Americans increased their use of financial services more than White Americans.

Banking activities in the past two weeks, per March-June 2020 surveys

 Withdrew cashDeposited cashDeposited checksContacted bank for service on accountOpened new accountsReceived advice on digital tool usage
White Americans35%20%40%9%3%4%
Black Americans47%31%30%15%7%7%

For example, Black Americans were about twice as likely to request account service, open an account, or receive advice on digital tools. In addition, Black families were more likely to leverage a fintech platform and have been more active in opening fintech accounts since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, as Black Americans seek out more financial help, some are not happy with the service they receive.

Satisfaction with Financial Services

Overall, Black families are less satisfied than White families across all types of financial activities. These differences were most pronounced for digital tool advice, where 38% of Black Americans were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, compared with just 12% of White Americans.

Even though Black people were less satisfied with banking services, they were more likely to say that bank performance was above their expectations. This may suggest that expectations are lower for Black families than they are for White families.

Black Americans were also much less likely to trust their financial advisor.

 Do not trust/losing trustIndifferentGaining trust/trust
White Americans10%9%81%
Black Americans32%9%59%

From March-June 2020, the percentage of Black people distrusting their advisors rose from 12% to 32%. Over the same time period, White people’s distrust of financial advisors remained stable at 10%.

A notable exception: White and Black Americans were both satisfied with fintech providers. Only 5% of White Americans and 8% of Black Americans expressed some level of dissatisfaction with fintech companies.

Time to Examine the Financial System?

COVID-19 has perpetuated Black-White financial inequality. Data shows that Black families are more likely to be financially vulnerable, and increase their use of financial services during the COVID-19 crisis. However, they are less likely to feel satisfied with these services.

Financial institutions can urgently review their remote and in-person customer service procedures to ensure the needs of all families are being met.

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