It's only seven years since the country – indeed the world – was in financial meltdown with banks collapsing, credit hitting a brick wall and property values tumbling. But for the Midlands’ richest-of-the-rich the recession is already history.
They are getting richer and the worth of the wealthiest continues to climb.
Once again, this year’s Birmingham Post Rich List is geographically focused on the West Midlands, concentrating on the area covered by our three Local Enterprise Partnerships: the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP which also covers a large part of Staffordshire and parts of Worcestershire, the Black Country LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP.
The 50 multi-millionaires on our 2015 list all either live, work or make a significant economic or cultural contribution to the areas covered by these three LEPs.
We have also put more emphasis on fortunes that are used to benefit or enrich the West Midlands and its immediate area, and less on inherited wealth which does little to improve the lives of people in the region.
The amassed fortunes of our richest 50 add to up to a total of £17.415 billion, compared to £16.615 billion last year. And we still have three billionaires at the top of our list, although they are not the same three.
JCB billionaire Lord Bamford and head of Wolverhampton-based Caparo, Lord Paul, retain their places but Aston Villa owner (for now) Randy Lerner slips out of the billionaires’ club to be replaced by the oldest person on our list – 95 year-old air-conditioning magnate Jacques Gaston Murray.
This means the top three on our list are all manufacturers – appropriate for the manufacturing heart of the country. Who said property was king?
The entry price for making the list has also risen. You’ll still need a personal fortune of at least £57 million to qualify for a place.
Once again we have some new faces in the list, including Wolverhampton retail king Kevin Threlfall, Michael Wright who has made his fortune from travel, lighting tycoon Andrew Thorpe and engineering multi-millionaire Simon Preedy.
Eccentric and much-loved publisher, smoker and wine drinker Felix Dennis is sadly missing from our list, having lost a long battle with cancer.
Many on our list have made their money through property – either building it or investing in it. They were the probably the biggest losers of the recession but as property values climb to pre-recession levels, they are doing well again.
Food continues to be well-represented, led by the Boparan Singhs whose 2Sisters food group has had its challenges but still grows. Tony Deep Wouhra, Woon Wing Yip and Peter Blakemore also keep the food flag flying.
The entertainment sector continues to make a contribution, with Brum’s favourite rocker Ozzy Osbourne maintaining his fortune and Robert Plant increasing his. Meanwhile Jeff Lynne – rated by the Washington Post as the fourth most respected music producer in the world - makes a very welcome debut in this year’s list.
Sporting interests are represented by Randy Lerner, Steve Morgan and the late Sir Jack Hayward.
A brief word about the rules of engagement for the 2015 Birmingham Post Rich List: In assessing who goes into the list and who stays out there is inevitably some subjectivity involved, and we can only work from publicly available information.
We looked at the personal wealth, property interests, shareholdings, company valuations, asset valuations, liabilities, and other known wealth of people who either live and/or work in the areas covered by the three Local Enterprise Partnerships in our region, or were brought up here, or who have major business interests here.
We took longevity and commitment to the economic wealth of the region into account.