Entrepreneurial abilities key source of wealth creation

When the UK’s Sunday Times rich list was first published in 1989, only 21 per cent of the country’s richest 200 people had made their fortunes themselves.

Wealth is now more driven by entrepreneurship rather than inheritance. Picture: PA

A quarter of a century later, this picture around the UK – and specifically in Scotland – is very different. Wealth is now more international, more diverse and more driven by entrepreneurship rather than inheritance. On the 2013 rich list, almost 80 per cent of the entrants are self-made and a high proportion was born overseas.

In the latest report in our Wealth Insights series, we explored how different origins of wealth can affect the way in which wealthy individuals prepare for the future and consider their legacy through wealth planning and philanthropy.

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Perhaps most strikingly, the report has shown that personal investments and savings from earnings and bonuses over time are now the dominant sources of wealth among high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in Scotland.

Entrepreneurship also features significantly – technology, globalisation and the rise of emerging markets have led to an explosion of entrepreneurship that is now a key source of wealth among Scotland’s richest people, meaning that, proportionally, the percentage of individuals who acquire wealth through inheritance is falling.

Just 18 per cent of HNWIs cite inheritance as one of the main sources of their wealth in Scotland, compared to 38 per cent who said it was from the sale of, and/or the profits from a business.

In Scotland, more than a third (36 per cent) of high net worth respondents reported that they had accumulated the majority of their wealth in under 20 years. In line with this, over half of HNWIs in Scotland (51 per cent) agree that wealth can be created faster today than in the past.

We live in a world where the very wealthiest are more likely to have found financial success through entrepreneurial endeavours rather than through inheritance or investments, and the advent of new technology is providing further opportunities for entrepreneurs to hasten the creation of their wealth.

Neither trend is showing any sign of abating.

• Calum Brewster is Barclays Scotland & Northern Ireland regional head, wealth and investment management