Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards

Technology > Marketing Technology

Ranked! The top 25 billionaires in the world

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

Imagine that you are the No. 1 advisor to one of the world’s billionaires. How would you handle this ultra-high-net-worth client?

Market fluctuations and the dramatic drop in oil prices have resulted in drastic changes to the list of the world’s top billionaires for 2016. According to Forbes, which has compiled the list now for 30 years, some of the billionaires’ wealth dropped ten figures for the first time since 2009. You’ll see a noteworthy difference in the rankings if you take a look at last year’s billionaires.

Sponsored Download

Download this eBook to learn about two little known wealth building opportunities that pay you big commissions.

Download Now


The list also shrunk, dropping from 1,826 billionaires in 2015 to 1,810 this year. Perhaps as a result, the billionaires in this year’s list have an aggregate net worth of $6.48 trillion, $570 billion less than last year. Forbes also found that the average net worth of a billionaire dropped to $3.6 billion, or $300 million less than last year.

Most of the billionaires on this list are aged 60 or older, with many of them well into their 70s and 80s. Only five of the billionaires are younger than 60 years old, which begs the question: What will happen when these billionaires pass? Who will inherit their fortunes? And, more important still, what will happen to their business empires and the people who have helped forge them?

To learn more about the wealthiest people in technology, finance, media and retail, among other industries, read on.


25. David Thomson and family: $23.8B

Country: Canada

Industry: Media (Thomson Reuters)

2015 rank: Same (No. 25)

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$1.7B

Founded by David’s grandfather, Roy Thomson, Thomson Reuters is a media and publishing conglomerate. David serves as chairman and holds 58 percent of its stake. David Thomson also has stakes in other enterprises, including Bell Canada and the Toronto-based Globe and Mail newspaper. He has a private holding company named Woodbridge, is part-owner of the National Hockey League team the Winnipeg Jets and has a diverse art collection that includes pieces from Pablo Picasso.

(Photo: Thomson Reuters offices in Canary Wharf, London. Thomson Reuters Facebook.) 

24. Phil Knight: $24.4B

Country: United States

Industry: Retail (Nike)

2015 rank: No. 35

Difference in fortune from 2015: n/a

Ex-chairman of the shoe giant Nike, which he originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1962, Knight finally broke onto the top 25 billionaires list this year. Last year, he made No. 17 on the Forbes 400 list.

(Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike, Inc., watches Oregon play Oregon State from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. AP Photo/Troy Wayrynen)

23. George Soros: $24.9B

Country: United States

Industry: Finance (Soros Fund Management)

2015 rank: No. 29

Difference in fortune from 2015: n/a

At $29 billion, the amount of assets that Soros Fund Management holds is impressive, but it is the chariman’s personal story that truly inspires. According to Forbes, Soros fled Hungary and put himself through the London School of Economics. He worked as a railway porter and waiter before starting in finance at a merchant bank. He moved to New York in 1969 and established his own hedge fund with $12 million.

Soros became known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” after shorting the Bristish pound and making an impressive profit.

(Photo: George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, talks during a television interview for CNN, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

22. Sheldon Adelson: $25.2B

Country: United States

Industry: Casinos (Las Vegas Sands)

2015 rank: No. 18

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$6.2B

Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the United States. He was in the news last year after his family quietly bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper for $140 million.

He is also known as being a sort of godfather to the Republican Party. Each election year he holds an unofficial “Sheldon Adelson Primary,” where he blesses a political candidate with a hefty endorsement.

(Photo: In this May 5, 2015, file photo, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson testifies in court in Las Vegas. The family of billionaire casino mogul Adelson confirmed in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that they are the new owners of Nevada’s largest newspaper, ending a week of speculation and demands by staff and politicians to know the identity of the new boss. AP Photo/John Locher, File)

21. Beate Heister and Karl Albrecht Jr.: $25.9B

Country: Germany

Industry: Supermarkets (Aldi Sued)

2015 rank: No. 37

Difference in fortune from 2015: n/a

The children of Karl Albrecht Sr., Beate Heister and Junior own at least 75 percent of Aldi Sued, a European supermarket chain similar to Wal-Mart, through the family foundation, Siepmann Stiftung. The rest is owned by charitable foundations.

(Photo: Aldi’s Facebook)

20. Li Ka-shing: $23.8B

Country: Hong Kong, China

Industry: Diversified (CK Hutchison Holdings)

2015 rank: No. 17

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$9.5B

Li Ka-shing is one of many casualties from the oil bust: He lost $6 billion in 12 months after shares of Canadian oil giant Husky Energy dropped in value by more than 50 percent. He is still one of the most powerful people in Asia, with interests in ports, utilities, communications, real estate and more.

(Photo: Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., and Cheung Kong [Holdings] Ltd., gestures during a press conference to announce his companies’ annual results in Hong Kong Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., posted net profit for 2013 was up 20 percent from the previous year. AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

19. Jorge Paulo Lemann: $27.8B

Country: Brazil

Industry: Beer (Anheuser-Busch InBev)

2015 rank: No. 26

Difference in fortune from 2015: n/a

Jorge Paulo Lemann owns the world’s largest brewer through his private equity firm 3G Capital, along with his longtime partners Carlos Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles. The trio also has stakes in Burger King, and in 2013 they bought H.J. Heinz & Company together with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Lemann is a former Brazilian tennis champion and has lived in Switzerland since 1999, according to Forbes, after an attempted kidnapping of his children.

(Photo: A beer vender holds up Budweiser and Bud Light at Wrigley Field before Game 4 in baseball’s National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in Chicago. AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

18. Wang Jianlin: $29.6B

Country: China

Industry: Real estate (Dalian Wanda Group)

2015 rank: No. 29

Difference in fortune from 2015: n/a

Wang Jianlin started his real estate firm, Wanda Commercial Properties, as a commercial real estate developer, building shopping plazas and hotels. He also had a movie theater chain called Wanda Cinema Line. Wang has purchased a number of international companies, including the organizer of the Ironman Triathlons, and the Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid, of which he owns 20 percent. In 2013, he bought U.S. movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings.

(Photo: Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, delivers a speech at the Ninth Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, Jan. 18, 2016. AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

17. S. Robson Walton: $31.9B

Country: United States

Industry: Retail (Wal-Mart)

2015 rank: No. 12

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$7.2B

The eldest son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Robson stepped down as chairman of the superstore last year, though he remains on the board with his brother Jim.

16. Alice Walton: $32.3B

Country: United States

Industry: Retail (Wal-Mart)

2015 rank: No. 11

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$7.1B

Sam Walton’s daughter, Alice, has dedicated her life to curating art and opening the Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, instead of working for the family business like her brothers.

15. Jim Walton: $33.6B

Country: United States

Industry: Retail (Wal-Mart)

2015 rank: No. 9

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$7B

The youngest of the four Walton siblings, Jim currently sits on the board of the retailer, which brought in $486 billion in revenue last year.

(Photo: Children of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder the late Sam Walton, from left, Jim Walton, Alice Walton, and Robson Walton, right, in this 2012 photo. AP Photo/April L. Brown)

14. Bernard Arnault: $34B

Country: France

Industry: Luxury brands (LVMH)

2015 rank: No. 13

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$3.2B

Arnault is chairman and CEO of the luxury goods umbrella LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) which has brands such as Dom Perignon, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Tag Heuer.

(Photo: Bernard Arnault poses prior to the presentation of the 2014 year results in Paris, France, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. AP Photo/Francois Mori)

13. Sergey Brin: $34.4B

Country: United States

Industry: Technology (Google)

2015 rank: No. 20

Difference in fortune from 2015: +$5.2B

The co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin is president of Alphabet, the new parent company he and Larry Page announced in August 2015 that houses Google and other companies, such as Nest. 

12. Larry Page: $35.2B

Country: United States

Industry: Technology (Google)

2015 rank: No. 19

Difference in fortune from 2015: +$5.5B

Larry Page, who co-founded Google with Brin, currently is CEO of Alphabet, the publicly traded parent company that includes Google. Forbes reported that Alphabet has surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable company after posting strong quarterly earnings in February 2016.

(Photo: This Jan. 15, 2004 file photo shows Google co-founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page at company headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. AP Photo/Ben Margot,File)

11. Liliane Bettencourt: $36.1B

Country: France

Industry: Cosmetics (L’Oreal)

2015 rank: No. 10

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$4B

Daughter of L’Oreal founder Eugene Schueller, Liliane Bettencourt and her children own 33 percent of the cosmetics empire. Because she suffers from dementia, in 2011 a court placed her under the guardianship of her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, and her grandsons. Her daughter made the rounds in the press in France last year after suing a photographer and family wealth advisors for swindling her mother of money, life insurance and other expensive gifts.

(Photo: L’Oreal new chief executive Jean-Paul Agon, left, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, second from left, her daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, right, arrive to the L’Oreal-UNESCO prize for the women in science, in Paris, March 3, 2011. AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

9. Charles and David Koch (tie): $39.6B

Country: United States

Industry: Diversified (Koch Industries)

2015 rank: No. 6

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$3.3B

While David Koch shares control of Koch Industries’ $115 billion in sales with his brother Charles, they are both also active fundraisers, spending millions of dollars in political donations, events, campaigns and more. David is executive vice president of Koch Industries.

Charles Koch is chairman of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in America, valued at $100 billion.

(Photo: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

8. Michael Bloomberg: $40B

Country: United States

Industry: Media (Bloomberg LP)

2015 rank: No. 14

Difference in fortune from 2015: +$4.5B

CEO of Bloomberg LP and New York City’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg broke the news just this week that he has decided not to run for president of the United States in the 2016 election. He remains a well-respected leader worldwide.

(Photo: In this Dec. 3, 2015, Michael Bloomberg speaks during the C40 cities awards ceremony, in Paris. AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

7. Larry Ellison: $43.6B

Country: United States

Industry: Technology (Oracle)

2015 rank: No. 5

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$10.7B

While he is no longer Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison is now chairman of the board of the company he cofounded. Forbes reported that both of his children are involved in Hollywood: His daughter Megan financed films such as Zero Dark Thirty, and his son David is a producer of franchises like The Terminator.

(Photo: Larry Ellison, Megan Ellison and David Ellison arrive at the LA Premiere of “Terminator Genisys” at Dolby Theater on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles. Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

6. Mark Zuckerberg: $44.6B

Country: United States

Industry: Technology (Facebook)

2015 rank: No. 16

Difference in fortune from 2015: +$11.2B

Cofounder, chairman and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg climbed 10 spots on the billionaire’s list in just one year. The reason for Zuckerberg’s climb, according to Forbes, has been Facebook’s soaring stock price. Zuckerberg founded the social media network in 2004 when he was 19 years old and still studying at Harvard University.

(Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg waves to the audience as he arrives for a speech at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 22, 2016. AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

5. Jeff Bezos: $45.2B

Country: United States

Industry: Technology (

2015 rank: No. 15

Difference in fortune from 2015: +$10.4B

The CEO and founder of is one of several tech billionaires that has invested in the space age. Back in November, Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin, launched a rocket into sub-orbit that landed back on Earth. This prompted a short-lived Twitter-feud with fellow tech billionaire Elon Musk (Tesla). In addition to managing Amazon and Blue Origin, he also purchased The Washington Post in 2013.

(Photo: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, left, unveils the new Blue Origin rocket, as Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, applauds during a news conference at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sept. 15, 2015. Bezos announced a $200 million investment to build the rockets and capsules in the state and launch them using the historic Launch Complex 36. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

4. Carlos Slim Helu: $50B

Country: Mexico

Industry: Telecom (American Movil)

2015 rank: No. 2

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$27.1B

Why did the world’s second richest person drop two spots in Forbes’ billionaire list? Carlos Slim Helu’s shares of the Latin American mobile phone operator, America Movil, was greatly affected by new Mexican telecom regulations, a weaker Mexican currency and economic decline in Brazil.

Slim also owns a majority stake in Grupo Carso, an industrial conglomerate, financial venture Grupo Financiero Inbursa and infrastructure development company Ideal.

(Photo: In this June 17, 2015 photo provided by the Office of Governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona governor, center, is flanked by Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim, left, and Rodrigo Lopez, a former U.S. major league baseball player and Spanish-language radio analyst with the Arizona Diamondbacks, as Slim is presented with an honorary Diamondbacks jersey during Ducey’s visit to Mexico City. Office of Governor Doug Ducey, via AP)

3. Warren Buffett: $60.8B

Country: United States

Industry: Diversified (Berkshire Hathaway)

2015 rank: Same (No. 3)

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$11.9B

Buffett is the CEO of the fifth-most valuable corporation in the U.S. His company owns Geico, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom, and has significant investments in Wells Fargo, IBM and Coca-Cola.

Oh, and yea, he is an investing guru for many advisors. Millennials say they would pick him as their most trusted personal advisor.

(Photo: American business magnate Warren Buffet walks the field with Thomas Fassanella before an NFL football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills, Sept. 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Fla. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee.)

2. Amancio Ortega: $67B

Country: Spain

Industry: Retail (Zara)

2015 rank: No. 4

Difference in fortune from 2015: +$2.5B

Amancio Ortega is still the richest person in Spain and the wealthiest in Europe, and has now climbed up to the No. 2 spot in the Forbes billionaires list. He built his retail empire in 1963 and expanded throughout Spain, Europe and America.

(Photo: Zara Home store at Milan, Italy. Inditex photo.)

1. Bill Gates: $75B

Country: United States

Industry: Technology (Microsoft)

2015 rank: Same (No. 1)

Difference in fortune from 2015: -$4.2B

Though this spot had been heavily contested previously by Carlos Slim, Gates managed to hold on to the first spot even after taking a loss of $4.2 billion.

Gates owns less than 3 percent of Microsoft, which accounts for less than 20 percent of his fortune, according to Forbes. He has investments in Canadian National Railway, Deere & Co., Republic Services and Ecolab.

(Photo: Philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates attends a panel “Preparing for the Next Pandemic” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 22, 2016. AP Photo/Michel Euler)

See also:

20 of the wealthiest places in America

Working with the affluent retiree market

The road to the high-net-worth market

Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook!



© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.