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Wealth secrets of the one per cent: How the super-rich became uber rich

wolf-of-wall-streetFor 2015, there are 290 newcomers on the Forbes global rich list. AP Photo/Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures, Mary Cybulsk, file

’Let us assume, dear reader, that you are interested in one thing, and one thing only: obtaining a vast fortune.” So begins economist Sam Wilkin’s new book, Wealth Secrets of the One Percent, on how the super-rich became just that. The “fortune”, Wilkin clarifies, is not the stuff of fancy cars and a holiday home on the Amalfi coast, but “yachts and personal helicopters, diamond-encrusted light fixtures, stately homes and private islands”.

Top wealth secrets

• Pick a field in which you can establish a monopoly, such as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who took control of the country’s entire telecommunications market

• Expand as quickly as possible. Amazon eschewed early profitability to become the “everything shop” and, as a result, investors poured money in

• The worst place to do business is really the best. It is easier to dominate emerging markets thanks to the lack of competition

• Take risks with other people’s money: encourage investors

• Own your own business and property rights: Bill Gates’s Microsoft at one point had a 95 per cent share of the operating systems market

• Spin complex laws into gold: set up in industries bound by such convoluted regulation that it is easy to bend the rules that nobody understands

• Establish networks. Telecoms networks and shipping networks have created a lot of fortunes

’Wealth Secrets of the One Percent’ by Sam Wilkin is published by Little, Brown.

The sort of fortune, in other words, available only to the world’s 1,826 billionaires and well beyond the wildest imaginations of the rest of us.

But Wilkin says he can change all of that. He has spent years researching the machinations of the uber-rich, and claims to have homed in on their wealth secrets. Pay attention, for this could be your chance to follow in the Italian leather-shod footsteps of the world’s wealthiest one per cent.

Get-rich-quick tomes are, of course, nothing new, and usually more common to a Waterstones bargain bucket than an oligarch’s bookshelf – if such a thing exists. However, what makes this book different is that Sam Wilkin is an inside man.

The 41-year-old is a senior adviser for Oxford Economics (one of the world’s foremost global research consultancies) and Oxford Analytica, which provides strategic advice to more than 50 governments across the globe. He works with some of the world’s largest companies and even the odd billionaire, although, unfortunately, he won’t say which.

Wilkin has previously written several economic theory books, but this one, published worldwide this month, is different. It zeroes in on how the wealthy made it and tries to answer the billion-dollar question “How can I get me some of that?”

We meet for dinner at a harbourside restaurant in Amsterdam. Wilkin is Buckinghamshire-born but lives in New York, and is travelling back via Holland after giving a lecture in China. From the book’s amoral money-grabbing tone, I am half-expecting a Wolf of Wall Street character to breeze in, perhaps arriving by launch from some distantly moored super-yacht.


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