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The Geography of the World’s 50 Top Billionaires

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50 Top Billionaires by Geography

The Geography of the World’s 50 Top Billionaires

The business world has undergone considerable change in the last two decades.

While some fortunes are always reliably passed on to their respective heirs and heiresses, there are also entirely new industries that rise out of nowhere to shape the landscape of global wealth.

As the wealth landscape shifts, so does its geographical distribution.

The 2019 List of Billionaires

Today’s chart uses data from the most recent edition of the Forbes Billionaires List to map the distribution of the world’s richest people, and then compare that to data from 20 years prior.

We’ll start here by looking at the most recent data from 2019:

RankNameNet Worth ($B)CitizenshipIndustry
#1Jeff Bezos131๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech, eCommerce
#2Bill Gates96.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#3Warren Buffett82.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAInvestments
#4Bernard Arnault76๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท FranceLuxury Goods, Cosmetics
#5Carlos Slim Helu64๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ MexicoTelecommunications
#6Amancio Ortega62.7๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ SpainApparel
#7Larry Ellison62.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#8Mark Zuckerberg62.3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#9Michael Bloomberg55.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAMedia
#10Larry Page50.8๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#11Charles Koch50.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USADiversified
#12David Koch50.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USADiversified
#13Mukesh Ambani50๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ IndiaOil & Gas, Telecoms
#14Sergey Brin49.8๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#15Francoise Bettencourt49.3๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท FranceCosmetics
#16Jim Walton44.6๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USARetail
#17Alice Walton44.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USARetail, Art
#18Rob Walton44.3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USARetail
#19Steve Ballmer41.2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#20Ma Huateng (Pony)38.8๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaTech
#21Jack Ma37.3๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaTech, eCommerce
#22Hui Ka Yan36.2๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaReal Estate
#23Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr.36.1๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช GermanyRetail
#24Sheldon Adelson35.1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USACasinos
#25Michael Dell34.3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USATech
#26Phil Knight33.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAApparel
#27David Thomson32.5๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ CanadaMedia
#28Li Ka-shing31.7๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaDeveloper
#29Lee Shau Kee30.1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaDeveloper
#30Franรงois Pinault29.7๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท FranceLuxury Goods
#31Joseph Safra25.2๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท BrazilDiversified
#32Leonid Mikhelson24๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaOil & Gas
#33Jacqueline Mars23.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAFood
#34John Mars23.9๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAFood
#35Jorge Paulo Lemann22.8๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท BrazilDiversified
#36Azim Premji22.6๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ IndiaTech
#37Dieter Schwarz22.6๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช GermanyRetail
#38Wang Jianlin22.6๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaReal Estate
#39Giovanni Ferrero22.4๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ItalyFood
#40Elon Musk22.4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAAutomotive, Tech
#41Tadashi Yanai22.2๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต JapanApparel
#42Yang Huiyan22.1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ChinaReal Estate
#43Masayoshi Son21.6๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต JapanBanking, Investments
#44Jim Simons21.5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USAInvestments
#45Vladimir Lisin21.3๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaSteel, Transportation
#46Susanne Klatten21๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช GermanyAutomotive, Pharma
#47Vagit Alekperov20.7๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaOil & Gas
#48Alexey Mordashov20.5๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaSteel, Investments
#49Gennady Timchenko20.1๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ RussiaOil & Gas
#50Leonardo Del Vecchio19.8๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ItalyEyewear

The most recent billionaires list features Jeff Bezos at the top with $131 billion, although it’s likely his recent divorce announcement will provide an upcoming shakeup to the Bezos Empire.

Bezos is just one of 21 Americans that find themselves in the top 50 list, which means that 42% of the world’s top billionaires hail from the United States.

Billionaire Geography Over Time

If we compare the top 50 list to that from 1999, it’s interesting to see what has changed over time in terms of geographical distribution.

Here’s the distribution of top countries on both lists, compared:

CitizenshipTop Billionaires (1999)Top Billionaires (2019)Change
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia05+5
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China37+4
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States1821+3
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil02+2
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India02+2
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy12+1
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain01+1
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico110
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada110
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฒ Bermuda10-1
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan32-1
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France53-2
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia20-2
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan20-2
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden30-3
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญSwitzerland30-3
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany73-4

In the last 20 years, Russia and China have stockpiled the most top billionaires, adding five and four to the top 50 list respectively. The United States added three, going from 18 to 21 billionaires over the timeframe.

On the other end of the spectrum, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland have lost the most billionaires from the top 50 ranking.

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Wealth

Ranked: The Worldโ€™s Top 50 Endowment Funds

Endowment funds represent the investment arms of nonprofits. See the worlds top 50, which collectively have over $1 trillion in assets.

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Ranked: The Worldโ€™s Top 50 Endowment Funds

What do Harvard, the Church Commissioners for England, the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an entity on behalf of Saudi Arabiaโ€™s King Abdullah all have in common? They all have endowment funds.

An endowment fund is the investment arm of nonprofit institutions like universities, charities, and churches. The purpose of the fund is to invest the organization’s assets to fuel future operations and other important projects.

The world’s largest endowment funds have billions in investable assets, making them sizable players in the finance sector. Here, using data from Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, we take a closer look at the world’s largest endowment funds by total assets.

Types of Endowment Funds

Overall, there are four main types of endowment structures.

  • Unrestricted Endowment: A fund structure where assets are used at the full discretion of the institution
  • Term Endowment: A fund structure with a fixed term time period before the principal can be spent
  • Quasi Endowment: A donation to an endowment with a specific purpose to deploy that capital
  • Restricted Endowment: A fund structure where the principal value from donations is held forever and only returns generated on the principal can be used

In addition, each endowment fund has different structures in regards to withdrawals, use of funds, and their general investment philosophy.

The Largest Endowment Funds

The largest endowment funds can be compared on a grand economic scale, in terms of assets.

To put it all into perspective, the largest 50 endowment funds represent over a trillion dollars in assets. Or for a more singular example, look at Harvard’s fund, which has an endowment greater than the entire GDP of countries like Serbia, Bolivia, or Slovenia.

Hereโ€™s how the top 50 rank.

RankEndowment FundTotal AssetsRegion
1Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc$124,000,000,000North America
2Japan Science and Technology Agency$80,700,000,000Asia
3Stanford University$75,143,751,000North America
4Harvard Management Company$72,781,329,000North America
5Yale University$56,223,259,000North America
6Princeton University$44,460,038,000North America
7MIT Investment Management Company$42,526,492,000North America
8Duke University$30,385,835,000North America
9New York University$27,840,535,000North America
10Columbia University in the City of New York$24,698,782,000North America
11University of Notre Dame$24,599,541,000North America
12KAUST Investment Management Company$23,500,000,000Middle East
13Emory University$20,458,905,000North America
14Johns Hopkins University$18,037,751,000North America
15Church Pension Fund$17,773,649,171North America
16University of Chicago$17,276,136,000North America
17Ohio State University$16,006,851,000North America
18Northwestern University$15,855,683,000North America
19Washington University in St Louis$15,103,569,000North America
20Penn State University, Office of Investment Management$15,017,272,000North America
21Notre Dame of Maryland University$14,938,580,253North America
22Cornell University$14,850,618,000North America
23University of Southern California$14,495,427,000North America
24Vanderbilt University$13,883,495,000North America
25University of Virginia Investment Management Compnay$13,811,076,000North America
26University of Tokyo$13,285,270,000Asia
27National University of Singapore$12,626,100,000Asia
28UNC Management Company$11,986,857,000North America
29University of Michigan Office of Investments$11,900,000,000North America
30General Authority of Awqaf$11,238,371,192Middle East
31Church Commissioners for England$11,197,700,000Europe
32J.Paul Getty Trust$10,778,927,000North America
33Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church$9,932,419,000North America
34Unitersity of Utah$9,827,602,000North America
35Brown University$9,793,108,000North America
36Kamehameha Schools$9,326,013,000North America
37Dartmouth College$9,078,340,000North America
38Hong Kong Jockey Club$8,603,580,000Asia
39Rice University$8,424,555,000North America
40The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust$8,313,588,000North America
41University of Pittsburgh$8,011,856,000North America
42Nature Conservancy$7,870,380,000North America
43University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation$7,329,730,000North America
44University of Rochester$7,149,025,000North America
45Virginia Commonwealth University$6,985,495,306North America
46Purdue University$6,755,500,000North America
47University of Miami$6,582,600,000North America
48University of Minnesota$6,304,508,000North America
49Caltech Investment Office$6,252,584,000North America
50Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City$5,588,554,000North America

The largest endowment fund, Ensign Peak Advisors, is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and manages the assets for the Mormon Church (officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The church itself has over 16 million members worldwide and is the fourth largest church in America.

The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) is a national research and development agency that plays a core role in promoting technology, innovation, and science within society. In 1995, Japanโ€™s government passed the Science and Technology Basic Plan and the JST came to life and now has over $80 billion in assets as well as offices in Paris, Washington, Singapore, and Beijing.

Just two funds come from the Middle East. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) with $23.5 billion and the General Authority of Awqaf. KAUST is ranked 95th amongst universities in the world and made history in the country by being Saudi Arabia’s first mixed-gender university.

The General Authority of Awqaf has $11 billion in assets and was established as a public authority to manage endowments and enhance Saudi Arabia’s various goals for societal development. โ€œAwqafโ€ in Arabic loosely translates to assets that are donated or purchased for general or specific charitable causes that are socially beneficial.

On the environmental side is the Nature Conservancy, which has $7.8 billion in assets. The charity is estimated to have protected more than 100 million acres of land.

American Universities Dominate

Universities are one leading category from the world of endowment funds, particularly those from the United States. In fact, universities make up 39 of the top 50 endowment funds, with 35 of them based in America.

Historically, Harvard has been the largest, but Stanford has edged ahead in recent years. Stanford has $75 billion in assets compared to Harvardโ€™s $73 billion. These vast amounts of money have not gone unnoticed, and elite universities are facing mounting criticism in some circles.

โ€œWhen Harvardโ€™s total admitted freshman class is 1,400 peopleโ€”and they have an endowment that is the GDP of El Salvadorโ€”theyโ€™re not a nonprofit, theyโ€™re a hedge fund educating the children of their investors.โ€ – Professor Scott Galloway

With student debt rising to $1.6 trillion, it’s likely these universities may face greater criticism around how they use the wealth available to them in endowment funds.

Sizable Influence

The top endowment funds carry considerable influence within the world of finance. While they all have billions to invest, each has very different objectives and intentions on how to deploy their capital.

And despite being non-profit organizations, endowment funds are seeing their overall assets exceed those held by many other investment funds, such as sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, and private equity firms.

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