NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: Bill Gates and Warren B
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett speak with journalist Charlie Rose at an event organized by Columbia Business School on January 27, 2017 in New York City. Gates and Buffett spoke on a range of topics including their friendship, business, philanthropy, global health, innovation, and leadership. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  • Billionaires have a trifecta of traits to thank for their success, a new report by UBS and PwC found.
  • Their smart risk-taking, focus, and determination is what makes them successful.
  • Companies run by billionaires perform almost twice as well as the rest of the market, Business Insider previously reported.
  • One of UBS' billionaire clients plans in decades instead of quarters, according to John Matthews, the investment bank's Group Managing Director of UBS' Head of Ultra High Net Worth Americas.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

Intelligence isn't what makes billionaires successful, a new report by investment bank UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers found.

It's billionaires' "appetite for smart risk-taking, business focus, and determination" that helps them build and sustain their wealth, according to UBS and PwC's 2019 Billionaires Report. These personality traits create what UBS and PwC call the "billionaire effect": Companies run by billionaires perform twice as well as the rest of the market.

According to UBS and PwC, companies run by billionaires enjoyed returns of 17.8% between 2003 and the end of 2018. That's compared to the MSCI AC World Index's 9.1% return during the same time period. Billionaires' companies were also consistently more profitable and performed better in the six years following an IPO than non-billionaire controlled companies, according to the study.

Billionaires have a trifecta of traits that add up to their success, the report outlines: They know how to take smart risks; they are obsessively focused on their businesses, which allows them to see opportunities others missed; and think longer-term than less wealthy CEOs.

"[I had a] conversation with a client talking about their success and how he has become successful with his company and his comment to me was, 'John, I don't think in quarters, I think in 10 years,'" John Matthews, the Group Managing Director of UBS' Head of Ultra High Net Worth Americas, said at a press event hosted by UBS on October 6. "It's a different mindset."

A multitude of studies and books have similarly concluded that billionaires think differently than the majority of the population

The UBS and PwC report underscores findings that align with what other studies and books have also found: Billionaires think and operate differently than the majority of the population.

A review of the personality tests of 43 people with net worths above $11 million (R160 million) by German researcher Rainer Zitelmann found that ultra-wealthy entrepreneurs tend to have high tolerances for frustration and be more detail-oriented than the general population, Business Insider previously reported.

"To sum this up, you can say that rich people are less neurotic and less agreeable, but have a higher degree of conscientiousness, are more open to new experience, and more extroverted than the population as a whole," Zitelmann said.

Entrepreneur Rafael Badziag, meanwhile, spent five years conducting face-to-face interviews with 21 self-made billionaires and found that the same characteristics that make them successful can also lead to their downfalls.

"Billionaires are nonconformists who demonstrate individualism at an early age when they break more than a few rules," Badziag wrote in his book, "The Billion Dollar Secret: 20 Principles of Billionaire Wealth and Success."

"Knowing when to make the leap versus when to run in the opposite direction often means the difference between bankruptcy and billions," Badziag added.

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