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Revealed: The UK’s Self-Made Super-Rich Hotspots

Discover the UK’s richest self-made people and their places of incubation as entrepreneurs.

Britain’s super-rich economy is one of the largest in the world and is continuing to evolve. But, did you know that some of Britain’s wealthiest are self-made, making their fortune through sheer determination? 

What’s even more surprising is that almost half (41%) of these entrepreneurs are from the North of England and not the capital of the UK, London. 

With that in mind, Money Guru has been looking into the UK’s super-rich economy, analysing the birthplaces and the age and sector of the 100 wealthiest self-made Brits to discover the impact location and education has on their financial success. 

Britain’s super-rich started out young and Northern 

While London is considered the home of the country’s financial industry, Money Guru’s study found that a staggering 22% of the self-made Briton’s were born in the North West of England – and a further 41% from the North of England. 

Delving further into the Money Guru research, it was discovered that 59% did not attend university. More surprisingly, 1 in 6 (16%) did not finish secondary school and dropped out before 15 – opting to establish their first companies. 

So, with all of the above, what are your chances of becoming super-rich? 

The North West tops the leaderboard for the super-rich 

The South and, more so, London has long been associated with wealth; more billionaires live in London than any other city in the world. However, the self-made super-rich are flying the flag for the North. According to the analysis from Money Guru, a huge 41% of the Brits listed are from the North, 38% from the South and 21% from the Midlands. 

When we delve deeper into the research, it seems the North West is a particular haven for super-rich. Of the self-made Brits that hail from the North, 22% of the UK’s wealthiest billionaires and millionaires were born in the region, as opposed to only 19% from London. 

This is especially surprising considering the North West has a population of almost one million less than the capital. 

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is, currently, Britain’s richest man, born in the North West. Sir Jim is one of the notable self-made businesspeople to make the rich list in 2019, establishing his company within the chemicals industry. Today, he has an estimated net worth of £21.05 billion, but he has stuck to his roots with plans to invest an estimated 6% of revenue from shale players back into the North West community. 

Other notable self-made Brits from the North West include Michael Platt – who made his fortune in hedge fund investment – and Andrew Currie, the director of Ratcliffe’s chemical company, Ineos. 

While it is surprising that the North West is responsible for many of Britain’s super-rich, the region is reported to be the best area within the UK to start a business. The business birth rates in 2018 were 16.3%, the highest in the country and a staggering 3% above the national average. 

Notable companies based within the North West include Betfred and Bentley. 

The North West has also recorded a rise in employment over the past year and is one of only three regions to do so within the UK. 

8% of the super-rich are from Lancashire 

As mentioned above, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is from the North West of the UK, more specifically Lancashire, as do 8% of Britain’s 100 self-made super-rich. 

Fellow Lancastrians, Peter Hargreaves – founder of the UK’s largest financial services businesses – and Sir John Whittaker, a respected property mogul, take their place within the rich list, worth £3.04 billion and £1.95 billion respectively. 

Lancashire and the North West have raced ahead of many other regions in terms of business, and the companies choosing to base their headquarters in the area. 

Recent reports show that a record number of new companies emerged in Lancashire in 2018, with a growth of 6.1% from the previous year, suggesting many could be looking towards the North West to make their fortune. 

Manchester, another notable city within the North West, is also responsible for 7% of Britain’s 100 self-made billionaires and millionaires. Additionally, Manchester was voted the UK’s ‘Most Liveable City’ by the Economists’ Global Liveability Index in 2018, so it’s no surprise that so many of our wealthiest boast roots within the North West. 

Heatmap of which part of the country the richest people in the UK come from

UK’s super-rich established their business at 29 

Money Guru also calculated the ages in which the self-made super-rich established their first business and made their fortunes. The average age for founding their first companies was 29, due to a staggering number of the Brits dropping out of secondary school and not attending university. 

Examples of businesspeople establishing their first companies at 29 include property mogul, Sir Jack Petchey, and the founder of Homeserve, Richard Harpin. 

Shockingly, Money Guru noted that 1 in 11 (9%) of the 100 self-made entrepreneurs initiated their first business at the young age of 20. 

Notable businessman, Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct and owner of Newcastle United, opened his first sports shop at just 18. Similarly, the brains behind Sheffield’s shopping complex Meadowhall, Paul Sykes, started his career dismantling old buses and selling the parts at 18, before going on to open the fourth largest shopping mall in the UK. 

Many other famous faces started their business before turning 20. Peter Jones, one of the originals from Dragon’s Den, started his first company at 16, straight after leaving school. 

While some may have sailed to success with their initial companies, that was not the case for all of Britain’s 100 richest, self-made entrepreneurs. The ‘Barclay Brothers’ are recognised as property tycoons today, but their first business suffered financial setbacks and was, eventually, issued with a bankruptcy order. 

Similarly, the owner of Phones4u, John Caudwell, reported a profit loss every month for the first several years of business. 

59% of Britain’s richest did not study at university

Surprisingly, 59% of the 100 richest Brits chose to shun university and, instead, entered the business world, while only 36% graduated from university. 

Furthermore, 17% of the entrepreneurs listed actually dropped out of school at age 15 or before to attempt to make their fortunes. In many cases, their lives are a true rags to riches tale. Sir Jack Petchey, mentioned above, left school without any qualifications at 13 and has amassed a substantial property empire. Arnold Clark, a tycoon within the car industry, also dropped out at age 14 and began buying and selling cars before opening his first showroom in 1954. 

15% founded their successful businesses in retail 

Money Guru has also analysed the areas of business that offer the most success, discovering that 1 in 6 (15%) of the 100 featured in Money Guru’s self-made super-rich list established their first companies within the retail sector. 

Property and entertainment were also popular options, with 11% and 7% establishing their businesses within those sectors. 

Where did the richest people in the uk make their money


Money Guru’s data was compiled from a list of 100 of Britain’s wealthiest self-made billionaires and millionaires. The areas we looked at for each person included: 

  • Their birthplace
  • Their current net worth 
  • The industry they established their business 
  • The age they left school
  • If they attended university
  • The age they founded their company 
  • Any notable bankruptcies or attempts to create their company 

You could see the full research data by clicking here.

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