The world’s economy is still very much feeling the knock-on effects of the global pandemic, which has been further exacerbated by the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Stock markets have plummeted, and as a result, many of the world’s richest people now have lighter pockets, with 329 less billionaires this year compared to 2021, representing the most people to lose billionaire status since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

However, not all is doom and gloom as there are 236 new billionaires this year, with 2,668 billionaires across the globe – worth a combined $12 trillion (£9.7 million), although down from $13 trillion (£10.5 trillion) last year. Despite this, 1,050 billionaires became wealthier in the last year.

Amongst the world’s new billionaires are Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, singer and entrepreneur Rihanna and CEO/Co-Founder of Canva, Melanie Perkins. Four countries gained there first ever billionaires: Barbados (Rihanna), Bulgaria (Kiril and Georgi Domuschievi), Estonia (Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus) and Uruguay (Andrés Bzurovski and Sergio Fogel).

There are currently 177 UK-based billionaires.

The top five world billionaires

Elon Musk  - $219 billion (£178 billion)

Source of Wealth: Tesla, SpaceX

Residence: Austin, Texas, USA

Age: 50

Musk has dominated the news recently, especially since his much-publicised takeover of Twitter at the cost of $44 billion (£35.7 billion), along with his libertarian views, including criticism of the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 33% jump in the share price of Tesla added $68 billion (£55 billion) to Musk’s fortune, leapfrogging Jeff Bezos. Musk owns about 25% of Tesla.

Musk was born in South Africa and moved to Canada at the age of 17. He attended Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Physics. He then attended Stanford University but dropped out to pursue his business career.

His first business ventures were software company Zip2 and online bank Musk founded aerospace manufacturer and space transport service SpaceX in 2022 and invested in electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla in 2004. He is currently CEO and Product Architect of Tesla.

Jeff Bezos - $171 billion (£139 billion)

Source of wealth: Amazon

Residence: Medina, Washington, USA

Age: 58

Bezos is another billionaire who has had plenty of press coverage in recent years, particularly following the divorce of his wife, MacKenzie, after 25 years of marriage. Bezos transferred a quarter of his then 16% Amazon stake to her, amounting to $35.6 billion (£30 million).
Bezos founded Amazon in 1994, initially working out of his garage in Seattle. Last year, Bezos sold $8.8 billion (£7.1 million) of Amazon stock and gave further shares away, now owning about 10% of the company.

Bezos also owns The Washington Post and aerospace company Blue Origin, which launched a sub-orbital spaceflight in July 2021, which included Bezos as a passenger.

Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and grew up in Houston and Miami. He attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida and earned a B.S.E. in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University, going on to work for fintech start-up Fitel and then transitioning into banking, becoming product manager at Bankers Trust, before establishing Amazon in 1993.

Bernard Arnault - $158 billion (£128 billion)

Source of wealth: LVMH

Residence: Paris, France

Age: 73

Last year, LVMH Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton, the world’s biggest luxury goods company, became the most valuable company in Europe with a valuation of $329 billion.
LVMH includes some 70 wine and spirits, cosmetics, jewellery and luxury fashion brands.

In January 2021, LVMH acquired Tiffany & Co, in what is believed to be the biggest ever luxury brand acquisition, at $15.8 billion (£12.8 billion).
Arnault was born in Roubaix, France. He graduated from France’s leading engineering school, the École Polytechnique and joined his father’s civil engineering company. Arnault invested $15 million (£12 billion) from his father’s business to purchase Christian Dior in 1985 as the company shifted focus to real estate and textiles.

Bill Gates - $129 billion (£104.8 billion)

Source of wealth: Microsoft

Residence: Medina, Washington, USA

Age: 66

Bill Gates was the world’s richest man from 1995 to 2010, then again from 2013 to 2017.
Despite not having any medical background, the co-founder of Microsoft has been outspoken about issues regarding global pandemics and advocating for vaccines, having a close relationship with the Chief Medical Advisor to the US President, Dr.Fauci. This has led to much criticism of Gates, including several conspiracy theories about his motives.

In March 2020, Gates stepped down from the Microsoft board and now owns about 1% of company shares, he has invested in numerous companies and is one of the largest owners of farmland in the US.
He divorced his wife Melinda in May 2021 and transferred around $5.7 billion (£4.6 billion) in public company shares to her. Melinda still co-chairs the Gates Foundation, which has donated an estimated $35.8 billion (£29 billion) worth of Microsoft stock to charitable causes.

Gates enrolled as a pre-law student in Harvard but also took mathematics and computer science courses. He dropped out of Harvard to co-found Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975.

Warren Buffet - $118 billion (£95.8 billion)

Source of wealth: Berkshire Hathaway

Residence: Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Age: 91

A true veteran of the business world. Buffet is one of the most successful investors of all time, popularly referred to as the ‘Oracle of Omaha’.
Buffet was business savvy from a very early age, making money whilst at school by selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola, golf balls and stamps, amongst other things, he also delivered magazines and newspapers door-to-door. He bought his first stock at age 11, three shares of Cities Service (now Citgo Petroleum Corporation).

The Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate owns over 60 companies, including Geico, Duracell, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom, along with holdings in Kraft Heinz (26.7%), American Express (18.8%), The Coca-Cola Company (9.32%), Bank of America (11.9%) and Apple (5.56%).

Buffet graduated from the University of Nebraska with a B.Sc in Bussiness Administration and earned a M.Sc in Ecomonics from Columbia University, following which he attended the New York Institute of Finance. His father was a businessman and a US congressman.

The top five UK billionaires

Hinduja Brothers - £28 billion

Source of wealth: Diversified

Residence: London

Ages: Srichand (86), Gopichand (82)

The Hinduja Group is a highly diverse multinational conglomerate which ranges from oil and chemicals, automobiles, healthcare, media, real estate, cyber security, banking and finance.

The conglomerate was founded in 1914 by Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja who established trading links between India and Persia (now Iran). After the Islamic Revolution, the group moved into Europe. It now employs over 150,000 people.

Brothers Srichand and Gopichand are based in London, whilst Prakash (77) is based in Monaco and Ashok (73) resides in Mumbai.

James Dyson - £23 billion

Source of wealth: Vacuums

Residence: Gloucestershire

Age: 75

Who hasn’t used a Dyson product by now? Even if you can’t afford a Dyson vacuum cleaner, if you live in the UK, chances are you’ve dried your hands on a Dyson Airblade hand dryer at some point.
His revolutionary designs have been a revelation, helping us to keep our houses clean and our hands dry and hygienic.
Dyson employs over 5,8000 engineers across the globe, surprisingly, James Dyson himself does not have an engineering degree, having studied furniture and interior design at the Royal College of Art.
Frustrated with his Hoover, Dyson came up with the idea of using cyclonic separation in the vacuum cleaner, after getting the idea from a sawmill.
Dyson launched the G-Force cleaner in 1983 after over 5,000 prototypes and partially funded by his wife’s salary as an art teacher.

Other Dyson products include washing machines, hair dryers and a fan without external blades, called the Air Multiplier.

David and Simon Reuben - £22 billion

Source of wealth: Investments, real estate

Residence: London

Ages: Simon (81), David (78)

The Reuben brothers were born in Bombay, British India (now Mumbai), from a Baghdadi Jewish family, sons of David Sassoon Reuben and Nancy Reuben. The Sassoon family has been labelled the ‘Rothschilds of the East’, being one of the richest families in the world from the 18th century.

David started out in the scrap metal business while Simon was involved in the carpet trade. During the 1990s, the brothers were involved in the metals business in Russia and Kazakhstan, trading aluminium and dealing with the emerging oligarchs of the time, including Roman Abramovich.
By the turn of the millennium, the brothers had sold all their Russian assets and began focusing on the UK property market.
In 2016, they sold 49% of GlobalSwitch, a data centre business, to Chinese investors for around $3 billion.

Leonard Blavatnik - £20 billion

Source of wealth: music, chemicals

Residence: London

Age: 65

With Russian oligarchs being subjected to harsh sanctions and Russian-linked businesses coming under scrutiny, Sir Leonard ‘Len’ Blavatnik’s links to Russia have recently been questioned. Blavatnik was born in Odessa, Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, but moved to Russia as a child, growing up in Yaroslavl, north of Moscow.
He attended the Moscow State University of Railway Engineering, one of the only high-ranking colleges in Moscow open to Jews. Whilst at university, Blavatnik befriended Viktor Vekselberg, a fellow Ukrainian Jew, who later founded the conglomerate Renova Group, which is currently under sanctions.
Blavatnik’s family emigrated to the US in 1978 and he received an M.Sc in Computer Science from Columbia University and an MBA in Engineering and Applied Science from Harvard Business School. He made a fortune following the collapse of the Soviet Union, buying former state assets, getting involved in the aluminium trade and later into petrochemicals and oil.

Blavatnik purchased Warner Music in 2011 for $3.3 billion and took the company public in 2020, quadrupling its value. He sold his stake in Russian oil company TNK-BO in 2013 for $7 billion and has been the owner of video streaming service DAZN since 2014.

Blavatnik is a dual citizen of the US and UK.

Lakshmii Mittal - £17 billion

Source of wealth: Steel

Residence: London

Age: 71

Mittal was born in Rajasthan, India. His father ran a steel business.
He graduated from St.Xavier’s College, affiliated to the University of Calcutta, with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and entered the steel business, opening a steel factory in Indonesia.
In 1989 he purchased Trinidad & Tobago’s state-owned steel works and purchased the Irish Steel plant in Cork.
He has also acquired steel assets in Mexico, Kazakhstan, and Poland. In 2006, he took over Arcelor, the world’s largest steel producer, in turn controlling further steel assets in France, Luxembourg and Spain. ArcelorMittal is currently the largest steel and mining company in the world by output.
Last year, Mittal’s son, Aditya, was appointed CEO of the company whilst Lakshmi remains Executive Chairman.
Mittal holds a 20% stake in Queens Park Rangers Football Club.
He purchased his 12-bedroom residence at 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens, referred to as the ‘Taj Mittal’ for £67 million in 2004, the world’s most expensive at the time. It is decorated with marble from the quarry which supplied the Taj Mahal.

How to become a billionaire

Each billionaire story is unique, unfortunately there’s no magic formula to become a billionaire, apart from perhaps becoming a billionaire by winning the Powerball billion-pound jackpot*.  

As we have seen, it of course helps if you already have a head start by being born into a wealthy family, as Donald Trump famously said; ‘my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.’

A 2020 report by Statista found that of 2,792 billionaires, only 207 were billionaires by inheritance, with 72% believing themselves to be entirely self-made’ whilst other attributed their wealth to a combination of inheritance and hard work.
In all fairness, many people would soon squander $1 million, or at least not be able to turn it into billions. Making money is not always easy, even with money to start with. From investing in the wrong stocks or business to global events such as pandemics or wars, many things can go wrong. Not forgetting costly divorces.

When considering marriage, 46 of the 50 wealthiest American billionaires from the last year had been married at some stage, with 33 out of 50 currently married.

Some of the best industries to be involved in to become a billionaire are in finance and investments, technology, manufacturing, fashion and retail and healthcare.

Don’t despair if you have no formal education or background in these industries as a university degree is not always required, as demonstrated by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. You also don’t have to follow the original career path which you chose, as James Dyson showed.

No matter what you do, pay attention to the small details and keep in the company of people who can inspire you, encourage you and who you can learn from.

It’s essential to be totally committed to what you are doing, passionate about your industry and focused on your goal, without being afraid of failure. In fact, you must be ready to fail and to pick yourself up, perseverance is paramount.

Another key to becoming a billionaire is taking risk, which includes an element of luck. As the ancient saying goes, ‘fortune favours the bold’. You need to dream big and believe in yourself.

*The record for the biggest ever Powerball jackpot is $1.586 billion.

You can bet on Powerball from the UK with Lottoland, an online lotto operator based in Gibraltar and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.

Disclaimer: Betting on the lottery is not an easy way to become a billionaire. Never rely on the lottery to solve your financial issues.