Study: Companies Run by Billionaires Outperform

Billionaires have three distinct personality traits that make their companies successful: smart risk taking, business focus, and determination.
Lauren MuskettNovember 8, 2019

Companies that are controlled by billionaires have significantly outperformed global market averages over the last fifteen years, according to a report from UBS and PwC.

The report, which looked at 603 public companies controlled by billionaires, said the companies’ annualized gain was 17.8% over the 15-year period, compared with 9.1% gain for the MSCI All Country World Index.

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“The outperformance we call the ‘billionaire effect’ depends on the entrepreneur keeping control, irrespective of whether the business is public or private,” the report said. It found the billionaire-controlled companies were more profitable as well.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

“In our view, billionaires have three distinct personality traits that benefit businesses — smart risk taking, business focus, and determination,” the report said. Billionaires’ enterprises tend also to “pursue a long-term strategy that benefits from an exceptional alignment between performance and management incentives.”

Josef Stadler, an executive at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in an interview with CNN that increasing taxes on super-wealthy individuals could curb risk-taking.

“Millions of jobs have been created by people who take outlandish risks. If you cap the upside, billionaires will manage their risk appetite downwards, [and] the impact will be detrimental to society,” Stadler said. “Think about what a world without billionaires would look like.”

The study found the number of female billionaires grew from 160 to 233 for the five years ended 2018. Over the same period, billionaires saw their total wealth grow by 34.5%, though they saw a 4.3% drop in 2018.

Tech industry billionaires saw a 3.4% wealth increase in 2018, the only industry where billionaire wealth increased. Overall, tech industry billionaires saw a 91.4% increase in wealth over the five-year period.

The report said there were 2,101 billionaires at the end of 2018. China overtook Russia as the second-largest billionaire group, behind the United States.

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