Australia’s Richest 250: Property produces more billionaires than any other sector

- March 25, 2022 4 MIN READ
Australia's Richest 250 list

The latest Australia’s Richest 250 deep-dive reveals that more of Australia’s wealthiest made their money in property than in any other sector.

Good news for would-be property moguls, data released by The Australian for its annual analysis of Australia’s Richest 250 reveals that almost 24 per cent of Australia’s wealthiest are rich because of property holdings. The next most lucrative sector was technology, with around 12 per cent.

The breakdown of sectors is as follows:

  • property – 23.60%
  • technology – 11.60%
  • investment – 11.20%
  • retail – 10.80%
  • mining – 8.80%
  • manufacturing – 5.60%
  • healthcare – 5.20%
  • financial services – 4.80%
  • agriculture – 4.00%
  • construction – 4.00%

The top 5 are doing okay

While property is the overall winner, it’s mining that dominates the top 10 wealthiest. Four out of the top 10 billionaires made their money in mining. A sector that’s considerably less accessible to the average punter than property.

While the average wealth of the top 250 is $1.88b, mining magnate Gina Rinehart dwarfs that figure and tops the list with her massive $32.64 billion wealth. She managed to double her wealth in a single year (last year she had a paltry $16.25b).

Philanthropist Andrew Forrest comes in a close second on the list with wealth of $31.77 billion, also accrued through mining. The irony of Forrest’s commitment to using his fortune to save the environment (see here and here) is not lost on anyone. But we’re still very glad he’s doing it.

Third is paper merchant Anthony Pratt with $27.77 billion; while Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are 4th and 5th with wealth of $26.20 and $25.99 billion.

The rise of property

After that, property kicks into play. It doesn’t surprise Your Empire founder Chris Gray, in the slighest.

“New-age businesses and technology start ups are going to make the list here and there, but property is always going to be there,” he says. “People make money in property and, perhaps even more importantly, people hold money in property.”

Harry Triguboff is one guy who knows the value of holding his wealth in property. He leads the charge at #6, with $17.2b made through property developer Meriton. He’s closely followed by Hui Wing Mau (#7 – $10.15b, Shimao Property Holdings); John Gandel (#13 – $5.06b, Gandel Group); Lang Walker (#15 – $4.5b, Walker Corporation); Chau Chak Wing (#16 – $4.17b, Kingold Group); Lindsay Fox, whose Linfox deals in both property and transport (#19 – $3.93b, Linfox); and Avi Silver (#22 – $3.6b, United Petroleum) who owns a stack of United petrol stations with Eddie Hirsch (#23 – $3.6b, United Petroleum).

So, what are your chances of making a billion (or several) in property?

Unfortunately, pretty slim.

While property remains a solid investment opportunity for anyone starting out, making a billion is a pretty huge leap for even the most savvy investor. There are ways to get ahead, however.

“Don’t try to time the market,” says Gray. “The perfect time to enter the property market was early last year when everyone was scared off by COVID. The market was up 25 per cent, and has come down since then. Some may see that as a negative, but it’s actually a positive to buy now because you’re not paying that premium.

“And don’t be put off by whether interest rates will rise or not. That’s just an excuse and there is always an excuse. Just get in and get started.”

Technology also a winner

As Gray mentioned, technology was the other big winner on The List this year, helping to push 29 debutante entrants onto the list. Winners included Nick Molnar, co-founder of Afterpay, whose wealth last year of $864m was pocket change to his $3.2b this year (and brings him into the Top 25) and the Canva crew. Cliff Obrecht and Melanie Perkins founded Canva in 2012 and it’s now worth $6b, with Obrecht and Perkins owning $2.5b apiece.

Canva and Aferpay are both the kind of company that proves we don’t mind it when clever, helpful people become wealthy all of a sudden. Both these companies seemingly came out of nowhere (though we all know deep-down these start-ups worked their guts out). Better yet, they seem to be run by genuinely nice people – which is worth way more than eleventy-hundred billion dollars. We’ve all seen Succession

If all else fails, be nice to your family

Aside from investing in the right property (and plenty of it), or founding a massively helpful technology company, your next best way to make The List is to inherit your wealth.

Anthony Pratt, who is #3 on the list inherited Visy, the paper company founded by his late father, Richard. Despite ‘the troubles‘, four of Rineheart’s kids are there (John #32, Bianca #33 and Ginia #34), as are the Packer (James #18 and Gretel #60) and a smattering of Murdoch (Lachlan #21 and Prudence #48) offspring.

It might be worth doing a search of the list to see if any familiar names crop up?

You know you’ve been staring at The List for far too long when those lower on the list start to look ‘poor’. We’re talking people with more than $400m to their name, but after swimming with the billionaires, it just doesn’t seem enough, does it?

It’s probably advisable to start at the bottom (Bevan Slattery, poor sod only has $450m) and work your way up to Gina Rinehart.

The List: Australia’s Richest 250 is published in The Australian.