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Myths about the ultra-rich

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, June 16, 2014
Posted: 7 am ET

Nearly two-thirds of the ultra-high-net-worth individuals with at least $30 million made their own fortune and are worth more on average than those who inherited money, according to the results of a recent study that corrects misconceptions about the rich.

Only 20 percent of the world's super-wealthy can afford to own a luxury yacht.

Only 20 percent of the world's super-wealthy can afford to own a luxury yacht.

A global survey by Wealth X found that, contrary to commonly held beliefs, the majority of the rich didn't attend Ivy League schools or inherit their fortune; nor do they own multi-million-dollar yachts.

Sixty-five percent of the ultra-rich made their own money, while an additional 16 percent inherited a portion of the wealth that they grew to a larger fortune. The self-made rich have an average net worth of $142 million, versus $130 million for those who inherited their money.

Increasing population of ultra-rich

The population of individuals with $30 million or more grew 6.3 percent globally, from 187,380 in 2012 to 199,235 last year, with combined wealth of $27.7 trillion. But although the exclusive group is tiny -- a mere .003 percent of the population -- it is mighty, holding assets worth the equivalent of nearly 38 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

The U.S. still houses the highest number of ultra-rich, but the fastest-growing population has been in Pakistan, where the number of individuals with $30 million or more grew by nearly 34 percent from 2012 to 2013. The second-fastest growing ultra-wealthy population was in Nigeria, which increased by nearly 32 percent.

Common myths debunked

Aside from the myth about inherited wealth, the study also found that graduates from Ivy League schools represent only 3.5 percent of the ultra-wealthy population. What's more, 13.6 percent of the super-rich have no higher education at all.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg aside, most of what the study calls "technopreneurs" are not in their 20s. The average age of a super-rich startup technology entrepreneur is 54.

In another myth-buster, the study finds that a wealthy lifestyle is expensive -- even for the super-rich. Only about 20 percent of ultra-wealthy individuals can afford the costs of owning a 90-plus foot yacht with an average price tag of $10 million. Most of them choose to charter private planes and yachts instead.

Inherited wealth is not all it's cracked up to be: Check out seven of the common money afflictions.

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Kevin Ledbetter
June 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

If it a blog on the Internet, it must be true!

Nick Fortis
June 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Mr Weeks:

Good call, J.W. Given world pop @ approx 7.2*10^9, 0.003% is actually a little high!

Thanks for correction.

Nick (still old.)

June 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

What I would like to know: How much credit and investment did the ultra rich (and/or their parents/relatives) have access to when they started? It does make a difference in the "rags-to-riches" story.

Joseph Weeks
June 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

Nick, they never stated the US, so the .003% would be very close for the world at about 7 billion.

Patricia, it wouldn't matter for a lot of the self made rich what degree they had/have. Some of them started a business and it took off. A degree doesn't make the person, also a decent amount of poor people get degrees (it may not be from an ivy league school). A degree doesn't make you rich but it can open up some doors.