When last year’s BRW Rich 200 was released, Lifehacker rounded up some commentsfrom those on the list that seemed equally applicable to us ordinary folks who aren’t stashing multiple millions in the bank account every year.
I’d planned to do something similar this year, but the recession has gotten in the way somewhat. With pretty much everyone on the list seeing a major drop in value (last year’s top-ranked individual, Andrew Forrester, dropped to eighth position), it’s not so much a case of “how did you get rich?” as “how did you not get completely annihilated?” And financial failure also makes people shy: there are notably fewer actual interviews with the rich this year. Presumably everyone’s too busy firing their accountants to chat to BRW’s reporters.
Despite that, there are a few useful facts that can be drawn from the roundup, so here they are.
Wealth accumulation takes time
The average age of a Rich 200 entrant is 62.8. While there are youthful exceptions (like Simon Clausen, founder of PC Tools, who is only 32), not all of them will necessarily hang onto their wealth in the years to come.
Wealth creation is a horribly sexist process
There are just 13 women in the entire Rich 200. While the relative age of the list probably plays into that — someone in their 60s still grew up in a generation where women entering the workforce was unusual — it’s still not a pleasing statistic. Hopefully the figures will have improved in another 20 years.
On the other hand, the process of getting there might not be worth it, whatever your gender. Patricia Ilhan, widow of the founder of Crazy John’s, puts it eloquently: “I know women want it all, but I don’t think it’s real life. Men don’t have it all. Men just have work.”
Getting rich from technology is difficult
There are only eight people whose principle source of wealth was technology in the whole list. Resources companies may have taken a battering during the last year, but mining and farming still look like surer paths to riches in the Australian market.
Paper millions really don’t mean much
The majority of people on the Rich 200 list get that way because of a valuation of shares in a company. Unless they plan to sell — and it appears most of them don’t — it really doesn’t matter much whether their apparent wealth goes up or down. The final word on the topic comes from Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey: “I never thought I’d have a billion to lose. In a way I’m sort of proud.”
If you want to load up on more wealth trivia, the BRW Rich List issue remains on sale until the beginning of July.
Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.