James Thomson Editor

James Thomson is the editor of BRW. Previously he was editor and publisher of SmartCompany and a senior editor at Business Spectator. He writes regularly on Australia's wealthiest entrepreneurs and has deep expertise in small business and the mid market.

View more articles from James Thomson

Celebrating 30 years of the Rich 200

Published 22 May 2013 15:01, Updated 22 May 2013 15:12

+font -font print

The occasion of the 30th edition of BRW’s iconic Rich 200 provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on what has become one of the most anticipated events on Australia’s business calendar.

Since 1984, when our founding editor Robert Gottliebsen published that first list, the Rich 200 has become the great scorecard of Australian entrepreneurialism, charting the ups and downs of our best business people, the cycles of our big industries and the fizzling fortunes of those fly-by-nighters who burn so brightly before their luck and their credit run out.

It is obvious to say that those 30 years have seen great change in Australian business, but it’s also true that the Rich 200 proves that old saying “money begets money”.

There are 18 entrepreneurs who have appeared on every list and a further 70 who stayed for more than 15 years. Sectors such as property, retail, media and resources have always dominated. When we look at that special group of 18 – which includes luminaries such as Kerry Stokes, Lindsay Fox, John Gandel, Frank Lowy, Stan Perron and Solomon Lew – we can recognise a few common traits.

Sticking to one industry is important. Retaining tight control of your business is crucial. Keeping your empire private appears to be an advantage for these “lifers”. Avoiding divorce is a more unusual characteristic that 13 of the 18 share.

But the real secret is that these entrepreneurs think long term. They understand that real wealth isn’t built in years, but decades. They can sense when markets are changing. They know when the time is right to sell and when to wait for the cycle to turn and bargains to emerge.

This long-term outlook is why the Rich 200 is so important. Tracking wealth is not something you can do one year and not the next. Our commitment to this annual project – easily the biggest in Australian journalism – is at the core of what we do at BRW.

The 2013 Rich 200 also highlights the changing face of wealth in Australia.

New Chinese billionaire Wing Mau Hui, who joins with a $4.82 billion fortune, leads a group of business people taking the Rich 200 into the Asian century.

The structural change lashing sectors such as media, retail and agribusiness is also challenging many members of the list, allowing new faces from services and technology sectors to emerge.

And while we wait impatiently for more women to join the list, we celebrate that this male domain is ruled by Gina Rinehart.

The 2013 list also provides the chance for BRW to show off its fantastic platforms. You’ll find an exclusive Hall of Fame list containing every member of the Rich 200 in the past 30 years on our iPad app, and special content at brw.com.au.

Thanks go to BRW Rich Lists editor Andrew Heathcote and Rich 200 expert Tom Brentnall for producing a brilliant edition. They have been supported by BRW’s entire editorial staff and a brilliant team of researchers: Allan Xavier, Nicole Lindsay Jessie Richardson, William Allen, Adeel Khan, Vincent Sinn, Anthony Mach and David McGregor.

Comments