Gates tops Forbes rich list again as young wealthy play catch up

Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:49am EDT
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By Beth Pinsker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The richest 400 Americans are significantly richer in 2013 than they were last year and younger Americans are accumulating wealth at a faster clip than their baby boomer counterparts, according to two reports released Monday.

The annual Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans list showed that total wealth climbed 19 percent in the last year to $2.02 trillion, up from $1.7 trillion, with an average net worth per individual of $5 billion, up from $ 4.2 billion in 2012. It now takes $1.3 billion in assets just to get on the list. (See the full list at

Atop the list for another year was Bill Gates, who at 57 has a net worth of $72 billion. He was followed by Warren Buffett, who despite giving away about $1 billion last year, was the biggest gainer, adding $12.5 billion to bring his fortune to $58.5 billion.

The average age was 66, according to Forbes senior editor Kerry Dolan. Only 32 of those selected were 48 or younger, fitting them into Generation X or Generation Y, while the rest of the list were baby boomers. Many of the younger billionaires are household names who made their fortunes in the tech industry - Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg (20), Computer maker Michael Dell (25), Yahoo's Jerry Yang (327), Tesla Motor's Elon Musk (61) and Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin (13 and 14).

"It takes a long time to build up a company that's worth billions of dollars - unless you've inherited it," said Dolan.


A separate survey also released on Monday shed new light on the youngest generation of millionaires. The Fidelity Millionaire Outlook shows that rich Gen X and Gen Yers are earning more money and amassing more assets than baby boomer millionaires. Salaries average $677,000 for those 48 and younger compared to $198,000 for those older, and total average assets are $5.7 versus $5.2 million.

"I think the game has changed," said Brian Dombkowski, chief investment officer of Sand Hill Global Advisors, a Palo Alto, California firm managing $1.25 billion in client assets. "Young entrepreneurs today made their money by building a better mousetrap, and they have been rewarded by the market for it. We have seen significantly more wealth creation than we did in earlier generations."   Continued...

Bill Gates speaks during Peterson Institute 2013 Fiscal Summit on Facing the Future in Washington, May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas