Results are in: BRW’s Young Rich List 2016

If you want to join the list Australia, it looks like one industry is laying claim to the largest number of wealthy up-and-comers.

The days of mining are long gone, and while property dominated last year’s list, it looks like tech start-ups were the stars of this year’s BRW Young Rich 2016 list.

These companies are now worth more than the big banks, according to BRW, and the brains behind them are some of the country’s wealthiest self-made Australian’s aged under 40.

Altassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquar trumped the 2016 list, with a record $4.6 billion in wealth, almost ten times more than the next name featured. The two have topped the list five times so far, having debuted with a combined wealth of $26 million back in 2007, and ranking number one in 2012.

brw young rich 2016 list atlaissan
Altassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquar

As far as the online retailers go, Catch Group’s co-founder Hezi Leibovich ranked number 18, worth $129 million this year, down 4 places from the list last year, when he was worth $236 million. That’s more than a $100 million decrease in wealth for Leibovich over the past 12 months.

Ruslan Kogan, founder of looks to have taken a steep downturn in wealth as well, ranking 26th on this year’s BRW list worth $90 million, compared to his 12th spot last year, losing over $245 million (wow!). Kogan’s business partner David Shafer ranked 68th, worth 38 million this year, also in stark difference to last year when he came 23rd, worth $92 million.

Justin Cameron, co-founder of apparel pureplay Surfstitch sits at 90 this year, worth $20 million, which is 61 spots down from his ranking of 26th in last year’s BRW list (wow again).

With such vast differences in fortune and rankings from last year to this year, it really does make me curious to know… how is the BRW Young Rich list conducted? And what methodology do they use to make these rankings and wealth tallies really?

It seems BRW’s researchers are wary of people becoming aware of their methodologies, but here’s what I’ve managed to garner.

The Australian Financial Review (owner of the list) is said to hire a bunch of seven to eight researchers, starting in January each year, preferring fresh graduates from courses like commerce, accounting, finance or economics. After some brief training, these researchers get on their way to compiling the list, which includes updating the numbers, according to Crikey.

There’s a process to figuring out how much someone is worth, and in some cases it seems a certain amount of “black magic” is applied. Each person’s file is divided into five major categories, including public assets, private companies, property, cash, and other.

While some figures for each Rich Lister are relatively easy to obtain, as they are available publically, for example, public assets and property, other vital wealth information, like private company holdings, are more complex and difficult to obtain; BRW’s researchers make estimates on this. They also make estimates on how much cash a millionaire or billionaire holds, also very difficult to do.

And while these researchers can do all the guesswork and estimations, it’s actually near impossible to tell how much debt a Rich Lister holds, and it’s often ignored by the researchers.

Failing to account for debt may be the reason why people like Justin Cameron and Ruslan Kogan have soared so high in last year’s ranking, only to plummet significantly this year, and why list debutants like Justin Dry, co-founder of Vinomofo, appear only a couple spots down from Miranda Kerr?

Food for thought: Without taking away merit from some of Australia’s most successful, innovative and inspirational young guns in the business world (bravo!), how much a business is worth and how much capital they can raise may not be the best indication of wealth, and it would be interesting to see how much cash these listers can actually realise.

Top 10 Online Retailers on the BRW Young Rich 2016 list

Name Ranking  Wealth ($million) Age Company
Hezi Leibovich 18 129 40 Catch Group
Ruslan Kogan 26 90 33
David Mills 65 40 39 AGR Machinery
Tom Haikin 67 39 40 Max Brenner
David Shafer 68 38 33
Erin Deering 70 38 31 Triangl Swimwear
Justin Dry 84 30 38 Vinomofo
Justin Cameron 97 20 40 Surfstitch
Lex Pedersen 98 20 40 Surfstitch


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