What You Can Learn About Money Management From The BRW Rich 200

The BRW Rich 200 represents just 0.009% of the Australian population, so the chances of you joining their ranks are, frankly, miniscule. But you can learn some useful pointers about increasing your wealth from their experiences.

Each year, BRW Magazine compiles a listing of the 200 wealthiest Australians, a process which requires lots of in-depth research, spreadsheet assembly, hard slog and occasional inspired guesswork. Those skills are also useful when you’re trying to increase your personal wealth. But beyond that, there’s some specific lessons you can draw from the list, which this year was topped by a female (mining magnate Gina Rinehart) for the first time.

Wealth accumulation takes time. Of the 200 Rich List members, 62 are aged over 70, while only 24 are under 50. The youngest, Nathan Tinkler, is 35.

Wealth doesn’t necessarily last. Only 18 people have appeared on every edition of the Rich List since it first began in 1984. That doesn’t mean that the people who have dropped off are now on the breadline, but it does show that even if you get on the list, you may not stay there. (The cut-off has also risen substantially; in 1984, it was $10 million; this year, it is $215 million.)

It helps to inherit wealth . . . maybe. Only 18% of the 2011 Rich 200 (34 on the list) got their head start by inheriting wealth from a parent. However, four out of the top 10 did.

Mining isn’t everything. We endlessly hear about the importance of the resources sector to Australia, and many of the top-ranked Rich 200 members do draw most of their wealth from that sector (starting with #1 Rinehart). However, considered as a group, the major investment sector for the Rich 200 is property, followed by resources, general investment and retail businesses.

Wealthy people aren’t generous. There’s not much of a culture of philanthropy amongst the wealthy. According to the Petre Foundation, wealthy Australians give just 1% of their wealth to philanthropic causes, compared to 15% in the USA.

Education isn’t necessarily a factor. While many of those who inherited wealth attended private schools, the Rich List also includes plenty of people who attended public schools — and at least seven who never finished high school at all.

It’s a man’s world for wealth. Despite Gina Rinehart topping the list, only 15 of the Rich 200 are female.

BRW Rich 200

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


  • Why are wealthy Australians so mean compared to Americans, only giving away 1% compared to 15%?

    That’s a huge difference, so it doesn’t say much for Australian generosity.

    • prolly has to do with the tax code. in US there’s loads of benefits and deductions that go along with charitable giving. our rich people really aren’t “nicer” than yours, I’m sure.

  • It’s a man’s world for wealth.

    – Family Court doesnt think Wealth belongs to an Individual.

    Get divorsed and see who gets funds

  • As someone whose (large and extended) family regularly appears in the top 50 families BRW list…the estimated wealth values are often way off the mark!

    I always like Spike Milligan’s comment….money may not make you happy, but I’m prepared to give it a try.

  • I really just have to take you to task over the “Education” section. Public school does not equal worse education, that’s a flawed assumption.

    I think the only thing you can assume when looking at whether the people on the rich list attended a private vs. a public school is that those who attended a private school probably had wealthier parents.

    Educational outcomes are more affected by the educational attitude of children’s parents than by the school itself.

    Once you take out the assumption that private-school equals better education I think you’d find that education IS a factor. Only 7 didn’t finish high school. Out of 200, that’s just 3.5%. That suggests that while it’s possible to become outrageously wealthy without completing a high school education, it’s far less likely.

    • The writer didn’t make those assumptions about public school. They merely pointed out the facts. The fact is that some people in the community think private is best, which is probably what was being alluded to.

  • The article very clearly says “Education isn’t a factor”, and then cites “the Rich List also includes plenty of people who attended public schools — and at least seven who never finished high school at all”. Clearly inferring that public school education is worse than a private school education, and could even be ranked alongside not finishing high school at all.

    I don’t know what other inference can be taken from this other than that public school education is worse than private – that if you become wealthy after a public school education, you must have done it despite being poorly educated.

    As my comment clearly states, the facts used in this article actually show that education actually IS a factor. 96.5% of the BRW rich list completed high school. There are no facts presented which support the relative merits of public vs private education.

      • By which I mean, I doubt that the writer wanted to make grand claims about about private vs. public education.
        The only ‘inference’ I get is that they thought the information might be of interest to some people, which it obviously is. You know, people with a bee in their bonnet about private vs. public education.

        • The inference is clear, and I don’t understand your very determined defense of it. I only have a bee in my bonnet about poor logic. I’ll say it one more time since you’ve obviously missed it. 3.5% of those in the BRW top 200 list did not complete their high school years. 96.5% of them DID complete their high school years.

          The only conclusion I can draw from these statistics is that education is a significant factor in making the BRW top 200. From the very simple statistics presented, concluding that education is NOT a factor is just plain wrong. It really obviously is.

          What, in the facts presented, could possibly lead anyone to conclude that education IS a factor?

          In Victoria the highest performing schools based on VCE results and other outcomes are state schools – Melbourne High School and MacRobertson Girls High School.

          I don’t have to have a bee in my bonnet about private vs. public education. I do, however, often get bees in my bonnet about poor logic and implicit assumptions.

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