The World’s Greatest Financiers

We all dream of making The Sunday Times’ Rich List, but unless a long lost relative’s inheritance suddenly appears or we finally get lucky on the lottery, we’re never going to make the fiscal grade. However, with a little bit of financial thinking together with a good dousing of ambition we could all become the next top name in the money business. Here are the top names in investment and finance, who have built their wealth from the ground up:

SIR RICHARD BRANSON – Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group

Since his first foray into business at the tender age of 16, with a teen magazine entitled Student, Sir Richard Branson has built up a catalogue of over 400 subsidiary companies to his main business venture, Virgin Group.

In 1972, the business magnate come investor opened up record store chain Virgin Records, which then became the better-known Virgin Megastores. In the same year he added another string to his music business bow with the opening of the Virgin Records music label, who were employed to release Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album. Due to new ventures in Branson’s career, he was forced to sell the label to fellow company EMI for £500million. As the venture that effectively launched the Virgin Empire, Branson is said to have wept over the deal with EMI following its completion, although he later launched the label V2 Records to compete once again in the music world.

Transport is another one of Branson’s seemingly favourite investments. In the 1980s he turned his interests to the travel world by launching Virgin Atlantic Airways, along with a selection of short haul plane companies such as Virgin Nigeria and Virgin Express across the Noughties. The 90s saw Sir Richard again dipping his toes into the travel world, this time a bit closer to Earth, with Virgin Trains.

His most notable business concept to date is perhaps his plan to launch a commercial space travel company, the aptly named Virgin Galactic. For now though, Branson intends to launch an environmentally friendly fuel company, Virgin Fuels, by investing the profits from his travel ventures into the new business.

In his time as an investor Branson has also launched ventures into the home media, health and fiscal worlds. At present, his fortune is valued at $4.6billion charting him #272 on the Forbes Billionaires List 2013.

PETER HARGREAVES – Co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown

The Hargreaves Lansdown financial service company was launched as a joint venture between Peter Hargreaves and Stephen Lansdown, and commenced its trading from a bedroom in 1981. Hargreaves was the former Chief Executive of the brand but stood down in 2010, leaving with £18million in pay-outs.

The company is based in Bristol and operates to sell funds and shares via its website, to retail investors in the UK. Its net income in 2012 was estimated at £113.3million, whilst its revenue charted at £238.7million in the same year.

Hargreaves is currently valued at £1,025million by The Sunday Times, and has joined the board at ITM Power Plc. since his departure from his primary company. His finances have been invested heavily into ITM, and he has also placed some investment in the racehorse industry. He currently owns three racehorses.

JOE LEWISBusinessman

After leaving school at 15 to become a waiter at his Dad’s catering business, Tavistock Banqueting, Joe Lewis fast became the head of the company. As he took the helm, he expanded Tavistock Banqueting to include the sale of luxury goods to American tourists, and also invested in the ownership of the Hanover Grand club. In 1979, he sold the ‘Grand to begin his investment portfolio properly.

Lewis’ attention soon turned to currency trading, before founding the Tavistock Group which now owns more than 200 businesses across 15 countries. At present, the Group owns stakes in sports teams such as Tottenham Hotspur; energy companies such as BayCorp; and luxury property such as the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club.

Outside of his business investment portfolio Lewis also places investment into art pieces, and now possesses a collection amassing the value of $1billion. The collection is said to include works by the likes of Picasso and Henry Moore.

In 2013, Forbes magazine valued the British businessman’s fortune at $4.2billion; placing him #308 on the magazine’s Billionaires List.

SRICHAND AND GOPICHAND HINDUJA – Business Magnates and Investors

Brothers Sri and Gopi became the top names in the Hinduja Group conglomerate after moving to the UK from their native India in 1979. The company, founded by their father Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja in 1914, now owns a vast list of subsidiaries spanning all industries from automotive to media and telecom.

Businesses to note in their portfolio include: Ashok Leyland Ltd, India’s largest HCV manufacturer; Gulf Oil International, one of the world’s largest petrol companies; and Hinduja Global Solutions Ltd, an outsourcing company for bank office processing and the like.

Srichand, who owns the largest share in the Hinduja Group at present, is regarded as one of the most successful Asians of the 20th century. He is noted as the 3rd richest person in the UK, with an estimated wealth of $8.3billion, placing him #136 on Forbes’ Billionaires List 2013.

It just goes to show that even if you have to start out by trading from your bedroom, your next business plan could boost you up into the rich lists. So, if you have a business concept in mind, work at it as it might just make you a small fortune.


Vicky works alongside, a wealth management firm in Leicester. She loves to read inspiring rags to riches stories about people who have risen to fame or wealth against the odds.