'Great wealth transfer' begins

The current population of billionaires is aging — meaning trillions of dollars will soon switch hands, CNBC reported Nov. 30. 

For the past nine years, the Swiss bank UBS has issued a Billionaire Ambitions Report. This year, for the first time in the report's history, new billionaires accumulated more wealth through inheritance than from ventures begun on their own. 

"The great wealth transfer, which we've all been talking about for the last 10 years, is underway," John Mathews, head of UBS' Private Wealth Management division, told the news station. "The average age of the world's billionaires is almost 69 right now. So this whole transition or wealth handover will start to accelerate."

The number of billionaires worldwide rose 7% in the 12 months ending in April, to 2,376, and their wealth grew 9%, from $11 trillion to $12 trillion. More than two-thirds of those who inherited wealth said they plan to continue work on the business, brand or assets that their parents or grandparents passed down, according to UBS' survey. 

However, younger generations of billionaires may have different priorities than their predecessors, according to Mr. Mathews. While older generations made their fortunes by beginning their own businesses and investing conservatively, inheritors are more likely to invest in futuristic endeavors: AI, clean energy and electric vehicles. 

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