What you need to study to become a billionaire in South Africa

Global market research group New World Wealth recently released its South African Wealth Report, looking at the trends among the country’s richest people.

According to the report, the largest portion of South Africa’s high net worth individuals (HNWIs) – who have net assets of $1 million or more – acquired their wealth through the financial and professional services (including banks, law firms, accountants, fund managers and wealth managers).

In addition more than 28% studied law (LLB/LLM), while 21% studied a finance or economics degree (MBA/Bcom/Business Science/CFA).

What they studied

Area of study Type of degree Percentage of HNWIs
Law LLB/LLM 28%
Finance and Economics MBA/Bcom/Business Science/CFA 21%
Accounting Chartered Accountant 12%
Computers and Science Bachelor of Science 6%
Medicine Doctorate (or other) 4%
Engineering Bachelor of Engineering 4%
Actuarial Bachelor of Actuarial Science 3%
Other Other 22%

Wealthy executives 

This data appears to have been backed up City Press’ inaugural Wealth Index, which focused on the pool of directors of companies listed on the five local stock exchanges.

The index was compiled using company documents, announcements and share registers published between 2006 and 2018, as well as from the disclosed remuneration of JSE-listed companies’ directors for the 2017 financial year – including bonuses and severance packages.

However it also focused on what these billionaires studied, and the companies that helped drive their wealth.

According to the index, four of the top ten billionaires (Christo Wiese, Patrice Motsepe, Koos Bekker, and Michiel Le Roux) all hold a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB).

Additionally three of the top 10 (Ivan Glasenberg, Laurie Diepenaar, and Stepehn Saad) hold a Chartered Accounting (CA) degree.

Rank Name Qualifications Total value of investments (R million)
1 Ivan Glasenberg CA (SA), BAcc, MBA 71 796.38
2 Christo Wiese BA, DCom(hc), LLB 32 782.36
3 Patrice Motsepe BA (Law), LLB 22 750.3
4 Laurie Dipenaar CA (SA), MCom 15 781.73
5 Ivan Saltzman N/A 15 629.93
6 Stephen Saad CA(SA) 14 363.37
7 Koos Bekker BA (Hons), BA (Law), LLB, MBA 13 558.94
8 Johan Rupert Honorary Doctorate in Economics and Company Law 13 213.73
9 John Whittaker N/A 12 894.86
10 Michiel Le Roux Bcom, LLB 11 575.33

Read: South Africa’s top 10 richest business executives

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What you need to study to become a billionaire in South Africa