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Britain’s super-rich economy is evolving. Some of the wealthiest Brits are self-made, having become rich by their own efforts. What’s more surprising is that almost half (41%) were born in the North of the UK, as opposed to the capital and the home of the country’s financial industry.

Money Guru has analysed the UK’s wealthiest 100 self-made super-rich, studying their birthplace, the age and sector they founded their first business to discover the impact location and education has on your financial success.

Britain’s self-made super-rich started out as young, Northern and not university educated

According to Money Guru’s study, 22% of the self-made Brits analysed hail from the North West of England. Delving further into the research, Money Guru also discovered that 59% did not go to university. Surprisingly, 1 in 6 (16%) dropped out of school before 15, opting to go straight into business. Additionally, the average age the self-made business moguls founded their respective companies was 29.

So, what are your chances of becoming super-rich?

The North West outranks London for self-made super-rich

The South, particularly London, has long been associated with wealth. But the self-made super-rich are flying the flag for the North. 41% are from the North, 38% from the South and 21% hail from the Midlands. 

The North West in particular, is a haven. Almost a quarter (22%) of Britain’s wealthiest self-made millionaires and billionaires hail from the region, compared to just 19% from London (and with a population of almost one million less than the capital).

Britain’s wealthiest, self-made man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, hails from the North West. Establishing his business in the chemicals industry, his estimated net worth is £21.05 billion. Ratcliffe also has plans to put back into his local community, with an estimated 6% of revenue from shale players expected to be invested in the North West.

It’s little wonder the North West is responsible for most of Britain’s self-made super rich. The region has shown staggering growth for business birth rates in 2018 at 16.3%, the highest in the country and 3% above the UK average. 

Additionally, the North West is one of only three regions that recorded a rise in employment in the UK in 2018, compared to the previous year.

8% of super-rich are from Lancashire 

According to our investigation, 8% of Britain’s 100, self-made super-rich are from Lancashire – located within the North West.

Also placed in the top 20 self-made super-rich are fellow Lancastrians, Peter Hargreaves – founder of the UK’s largest financial services businesses - and property mogul, John Whittaker, worth £3.04 billion and £1.95 billion respectively.

In recent years, Lancashire has raced ahead of many other counties when it comes to business. Figures recently published show that a record number of new companies emerged in Lancashire in 2018. This increase led to a growth of 6.1% from the previous year.

Manchester, a city in the North West, is also responsible for 7% of the Brits on the Money Guru list. Voted the UK’s most liveable city by The Economists’ Global Liveability Index in 2018, many of the wealthiest Brits boast roots in the Northern city.

29 is the age the UK’s self-made richest founded their companies

While investigating where Britain’s wealthiest, self-made moguls are from, Money Guru also calculated the average age the billionaires and millionaires founded the companies that made them their fortunes. For those who are looking to become super rich, 29 is the age you should start your business. 

Notable people establishing their companies at the age of 29 include property businessman, Sir Jack Petchey, and Richard Harpin, founder of Homeserve.

Delving further into the list, however, Money Guru noted 1 in 11 (9%) of the 100 self-made entrepreneurs started their first companies before the age of 20.

Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, opened his first sports shop at the age of 18. Additionally, the man who established Meadowhall, Paul Sykes, started his career dismantling old buses at 18 and selling the parts. Other notable figures beginning their career before their 20s include Dragon’s Den favourite, Peter Jones, starting his first business at the age of 16. 

Additionally, some of the business giants suffered financial issues while attempting to make their fortune. The ‘Barclay Brothers’ were served with a bankruptcy order for their first business, before going on to become property moguls. Similarly, John Caudwell – founder of Phones4u – made a loss every month for the first several years in business.

59% of Britain’s self-made super-rich didn’t go to university

Over half (59%) of the self-made super-rich in the UK left school to enter the business world, shunning university. Only 36% graduated from university before establishing the businesses that made their fortunes.

A staggering 17% of the UK’s self-made super-rich dropped out of school before the age of 15. Notably, Sir Jack Petchey and Arnold Clark – tycoons within the car industry – left school at 13 and 14 with no qualifications respectively, later founding their businesses in their late 20s.

1 in 6 self-made Brits founded their business in retail

As well as the age you should be starting your business, Money Guru uncovered the most popular industry for Britain’s self-made entrepreneurs. 1 in 6 (15%) of the 100 featured in Money Guru’s list founded their first business within the retail industry. Property and entertainment completed the top three, at 11% and 7% respectively.


Our 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

Data correct as of May 2019.