5 major traits of South African millionaires that will bring you closer to being like them

Patrice Motsepe
Mining businessman Patrice Motsepe is one of the super wealthy people in South Africa. He is pictured here with his wife.

Millionaires are usually considered to be the most brilliant and enterprising people who are able to come out with ideal and fast ways to make some cash despite the obstacles.

It’s true that some of them might have certain advantages such as being born into a rich family or a country with an enabling environment. Nevertheless, most of them largely strive on their own to strike it big.

In South Africa, the situation is no different. The country has nearly 40,000 millionaires at the moment, cites AfrAsia Bank SA Wealth Report for 2019.
The sixth edition of the report, published by Johannesburg-based New World Wealth and released this week, said there were 39,200 people with assets of more than $1 million, 2,070 with assets of $10 million and 94 people with assets more than $100 million.

The country, however, had 4,400 fewer dollar millionaires than in 2018, and 130 fewer people with assets of more than $10 million, according to the report.

In effect, the total private wealth held by people living in South Africa declined by 10% from $722 billion to $649 billion. The report attributed this drop to the significant depreciation of the rand against the U.S. dollar.

Meanwhile, the average South African individual has total assets of around $11,500, which is the second highest in Africa behind Mauritius.

Scores of young people who have an interest in starting their own businesses and growing their wealth often look up to millionaires for inspiration.

In South Africa, this is what millionaires do, how they live, and what they play. If you want to come closer to being like them, the SA Wealth report has outlined some of their traits:

South Africa’s dollar millionaires made their fortunes in financial and professional services

Work they do

An estimated 30 per cent of South Africa’s dollar millionaires made their fortunes in financial and professional services. These services included the banking sector, accounting firms, law firms, fund managers, and wealth management companies. In effect, the sources of South Africa’s dollar millionaires’ fortunes were:

Financial and professional services 30%
Real estate 16%
Tech and telecoms 9%
Mining, farming and chemicals 8%
Mixed sectors, and sectors such as security and education 8%
Healthcare 7%
Retail 5%
Fast-moving consumer goods 5%
Media 4%
Manufacturing 3%
Transport and logistics 3%
Hotels and leisure 2%

School of Law

Area of study

The report shows that 28% of South African dollar millionaires studied law. This is followed by finance graduates (19%), chartered accountants (10%), medicine (7%) and IT (5%). These are essentially the most lucrative university degrees in terms of percentages:


Almost half of South Africa’s dollar millionaires have the title of “director”, according to the study.


Graduation group
Graduates in front of Wits Great Hal

Level of education

Almost 70% of dollar millionaires only have an undergraduate degree. Just 5% of the rich people have made it with only a high-school education.

Most dollar millionaires studied at the University of Witwatersrand – 20%. This was followed by University of Cape Town (19%) and Stellenbosch University (12%).

Unsurprisingly, the most popular pastime for the wealthy is golf, as South Africa has some of the best golf courses in the world. They also love fly-fishing and cycling.

Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa

Where they live

Of the 39, 200 High Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs) – with assets of more than $1 million – 16, 600 call Johannesburg home. Thus, Johannesburg is the wealthiest area, and it has a total private wealth of $248 billion. There are 16, 600 HNWIs ($1 million plus) and 870 multi-millionaires ($10 million-plus) living in this city and its surrounds, according to the report.

Cape Town is next. Its private wealth is calculated at $133 billion, with 7, 100 HNWIs and 420 multi-millionaires living there. Durban, Ballito and Umhlanga area has a total wealth of $ 4 billion, but has grown the most in the past decade at just on 25%. The most expensive streets in the country were both in Cape Town – Victoria Road in Clifton and Bantry Bay and The Ridge and Cliff Road, in the same area, where properties cost R90 000 ($ 6,389) a square metre.


Many of them leave

The report estimated that 3,000 HNWIs had emigrated from South Africa in the past 10 years. Most of those who left went to the UK, U.S., and Australia. Other popular destinations were Switzerland and Portugal.