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