A new billionaire was created in China almost every week in the first quarter of this year, according to a report jointly released on Tuesday by UBS AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
James Chang, managing partner of financial service consulting at PwC China, said the rapid growth of Chinese billionaires was mainly caused by the booming Internet and mobile Internet industries, and the rise of the country's capital markets.
China is encouraging the public to establish their own businesses and be more innovative, which is encouraging and allowing more young people to create wealth, Chang said.
"New self-made billionaires are expected from emerging industries that combine mobile Internet, big data and cloud technologies with traditional sectors, including pharmaceuticals, auto and financial services," he said.
China's billionaires were previously largely concentrated in sectors such as consumer, manufacturing and real estate. But a growing number of them are emerging from financial and high-tech industries, he said.
Karen Chen, president of UBS (China) Ltd, said there has also been a wider growth in Asian billionaires, which is closely related to the region's economic strength, urbanization progress and fast increase in house prices.
Nearly one-fifth of Asia's self-made billionaires, with average wealth of $3.2 billion, made their money in the consumer sector, while 12.9 percent, with average wealth of $2.7 billion, gained from the region's real estate boom, the report said.
Chen said many of Asia's billionaires had developed their wealth by doing business with China, although Chinese billionaires still make up a small percentage of billionaires globally.
However, she expects to see continued growth of self-made billionaires in China and rest of Asia, although they will face challenges as the BRICS economies slow.
The report surveyed 1,300 billionaires worldwide with total wealth of $5.4 trillion. Of those, 917 were self-made, who created fortunes of more than $3.6 trillion over the past 19 years.
The United States and Asia have become the world's main centers of wealth creation over the past decade, it said. Forty-seven percent of self-made billionaires are now based in the US, with 36 percent in Asia and 17 percent in Europe.
The report said Asia will overtake the US, however, as the main center of billionaire growth within the next five to 10 years, which will lead to a more culturally diverse and younger population of billionaires, including more females.
In Asia, the average self-made billionaire is 57 years old－almost 10 years younger than their counterparts in other regions.
Nearly two-thirds of billionaires globally are over 60 years old and so nearing the point when they will have to decide how to pass on their wealth to the next generation.
"The majority of billionaires have come to the crucial point of wealth transfer," said Chen of UBS. "Whether their wealth will continue to grow depends on how well they handle that process."
In China, she said the development of wealth planning instruments, however, is still at an early stage. Restricted by domestic laws and regulations, many Chinese billionaires could only enjoy limited kinds of wealth management instruments, rather than having their assets covered by family trusts and insurances, if their companies are not listed overseas.
She said a growing number of Chinese billionaires will rely on professional institutions to help them build a plan for family wealth transfer.
Their interest in a family office, a private company that manages investments and trusts for a single family, is also likely to increase, she said.