The 100 most profitable companies on the Fortune Global 500 list generated between £34.8 billion ($45.7 billion) and £3.6 billion ($4.8 billion) in the last financial year. These are numbers that are too large to even comprehend. But when we divided profits by number of employees to determine who effectively has the most ‘profitable’ employees, the numbers were truly impressive:
|Profit per Employee ($)||Profit per Employee (£)|
|9||Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing||Taiwan||218,951||167,140|
|10||Goldman Sachs Group||US||215,058||164,168|
|16||Shanghai Pudong Development Bank||China||151,287||115,487|
|17||Commonwealth Bank of Australia||Australia||148,749||113,550|
What the Tech is Going On?
Many would expect the employees of tech companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google to be among the most profitable, but their employees ranked only 4th, 7th and 8th respectively. Surprisingly, those holding the top three spots were companies from traditional industries; mortgage providers and pharmaceuticals.
A Productivity Party in the USA
Of the top 10 companies in terms of profit per employee, eight are American. This is no surprise considering that the USA has the 6th most productive workforce in the world, and the biggest economy at £14.5 trillion ($19.4 trillion)
Employees of the American Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), more commonly known as Fannie Mae, were the most profitable of all, effectively generating a staggering £1,342,759 ($1,759,000) each in profit last year.
Profitable Employees: There’s a Science to it
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most valuable in the US, with Americans having spent a staggering $450 billion on medicines last year alone. One of the most successful pharmaceutical companies is Gilead Sciences, who reported a profit of £10.3 billion ($13.5 billion) last year. This works out at an impressive £1.1 million ($1.5 million) in profit per employee.
Gilead are famous for their pioneering treatments of both HIV and Hepatitis C, although the high cost of drugs for the latter has caused a lot of controversy in recent months. Levels of Hep C in the US are currently at a 15 year high, and the high cost of the drug (£56,000, or $74,760, per course) has led insurance companies to impose strict criteria on who can qualify to receive it through their insurance.
An Electric Shock
The one of only two UK companies to feature in the top 100 most profitable companies on the Fortune Global 500 list is the National Grid, who reported a profit of £7.7 billion in the last financial year. Their employees drive a staggering £350,109 ($458,639), making them the 5th “most profitable” employees of all. The National Grid has received criticism from the Citizens Advice bureau in recent months, who claim this money should be returned to consumers.
Fannie Mae employees may hold the top spot by some margin this year, but with a whole new generation of disruptive fintech startups threatening the traditional mortgage industry, we have to wonder if the leaderboard won’t look quite different in years to come.