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Becoming a millionaire: This is how long it took Bezos, Buffett and Gates

A study of the world’s richest individuals has found the average time it takes to make US$1 million.

The study measures the wealth of the world’s richest people, and how long it took them to reach the six zeroes. Broadly speaking, your first million doesn’t happen overnight.

On average, the ultra-rich started their journey at age 27, and took a further eight years to meet that number.

That said, this study is limited to the wealthiest individuals in the world. A more accurate length of time would require a cross-section of every millionaire and billionaire.

Surprisingly, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin only took a year, while online titans Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos didn’t reach that benchmark for two and three years respectively.

Unsurprisingly, rapid-development economies like India, Mexico and Nigeria see entrepreneurs reach the peak relatively quickly. In those first two, it only takes a couple of years to achieve it.

Fashion and retail is a tough industry for hitting those seven digits – it certainly takes a while longer than usual, anyway. On average, people took 14.4 years to become millionaires in the sector.

Two of fashion retail’s biggest names – Zara’s Amancio Ortega and Kering’s Francois Pinault – took 11 and 25 years respectively to get there. Compared with their present net worth, the time it took them to earn even that amount must have made a billion seem unreachable. The lesson there is it’s never too late.

Statistically speaking, if you’re looking to hit that first million in as little time as possible, you’ll want to be a 27-year-old working in the Mexican telecom or tech sectors.

Alternatively, you could just be born into your wealth, as a third of the world’s richest people were.

But the out-and-out winner of the race to a million is Jack Ma, who famously built up his fortune single-handedly. It took the Alibaba founder less than a year to hit that milestone.

Below are a few of the world’s richest names, their net worth and the time it took them to reach the first of their many millions.

Jeff Bezos

US$131bn, 3 years

Bill Gates

US$97bn, 6 years

Warren Buffet

US$83bn, 5 years

Carlos Slim Helu

US$64bn, 4 years

Amancio Ortega

US$63bn, 11 years

Larry Ellison

US$63bn, 9 years

Mark Zuckerberg

US$62bn, 2 years

Michael Bloomberg

US$56bn, 7 years

Larry Page

US$51bn, 1 year

Sergey Brin

US$50bn, 1 year

Jack Ma

US$37bn, 0 years

Michael Dell

US$34bn, 4 years

Masayoshi Son

US$22bn, 2 years

These are the cities attracting the super-rich investor.

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