South African moneyThree recent surveys all combined in my inbox last week, and their confluence draws an interesting picture of the richest South African business people.

The heading of this blog is slightly misleading. South African bosses are not the richest in absolute terms, but according to a recent survey, they are the best off in the world in terms of lifestyle, spending power and net disposable incomes. This is the finding of a report by (South African based) human resources company P-E Corporate Services, which analyses the latest global trends in remuneration and working conditions at more than 850 companies.

The survey calculates the purchasing power of executives’ net disposable income after essential expenses, tax and pension are taken into account. It shows that South Africa’s chief executives are now doing far better than CEOs in the US, Europe, Australia and the rest of Africa. The Rand’s strength and low inflation have definitely helped, rather than a massive increase in remuneration (although another survey, compiled on behalf of Business Times by Who Owns Whom, shows that the number of billionaires – based on JSE holdings – in SA increased from 16 in 2009 to 31 this year, with an overall 45% increase in wealth between them).

Unexpectedly, living expenses for chief executives residing in Johannesburg were the second lowest in the survey, with only Gaborone being cheaper.

But then, finally, I read a report on Global Giving: The Culture of Philanthropy, from Barclays Wealth (in SA: The Good News) that wealthy South Africans are the second most generous nation when it comes to giving money, and rank fourth in volunteering their time to worthy causes. The report surveyed 2000 high net worth individuals from 20 countries around the world, measuring the money and time they invested in charities and causes. It also looked at what motivated their generosity.

The United States, Ireland, South Africa and India lead the way as countries that donate significant amounts of both money and time to charitable causes.

Better off, but also doing better! In every sense of the phrase. Nice one, South Africa!

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