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Meet six of the world’s richest accountants

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Managing other people's money naturally has some benefits – one of the most obvious being the knowledge of how to build up a personal fortune of your very own. If a celebrity salary is on your agenda, take inspiration from our selection of six accountants who have hit the big time.

1. Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike. Net worth: $25.1bn

Phil Knight is a Certified Public Accountant, but you probably know him better as the co-founder of Nike. After graduating from business school, Knight visited Japan where he door-stepped the boss of the Onitsuko Tiger running shoe brand and secured US distribution rights. Spotting an opportunity, he teamed up with his former track running coach and launched the business that became Nike in 1964. Nike is now worth an eye-watering $86.2bn.

2. Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla Group. Net worth: $8.3bn

A member of a prominent Indian business family, Kumar Mangalam Birla studied accountancy and business, but nothing could prepare him for the loss of his father at the young age of 28 – and the huge responsibility of taking over one of India's biggest business groups. But apprehension about Birla's ability to fill his successful father's boots turned out to be unfounded: he has successfully increased revenues 20-fold over the past 20 years to over $40bn.

3. Denise Coates, director of Bet365. Net worth: $2.9bn

English businesswoman Denise Coates started out as a humble cashier in her family's bookmaking company, Provincial Racing. She trained as an accountant after university, but showed her true talent when she took charge of the business and transformed the family's fortunes. In 2001, Coates set up online betting firm Bet365.com with a bank loan. The business is now one of the world's largest online gambling companies, operating in almost 200 countries and serving millions of customers. That's one gamble that sure paid off for Denise!

4. Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot. Net worth: $2.6bn

Born in the 1940s in New York, Arthur Blank studied for a degree in accounting and business administration. He moved into the retail sector, where he rose to become a vice president of finance. When both he and his friend and CEO Bernard Marcus were fired in 1978, the pair decided to pool their expertise and set up their own business. They called it Home Depot – and The Home Depot brand is now worth a cool $149.2bn.

5. Paul Coulson, chairman of Ardagh Group. Net worth: $1.5bn

Dublin native Paul Coulson is known as one of the richest people in Ireland, and he certainly seems to have been bestowed with an immeasurable amount of that famous Irish luck. Starting out at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London, Coulson founded finance company Yeoman, before making the switch over to the glass industry in 1998. Running glass-bottling company Ardagh, Coulson propelled the firm to worldwide success; the once small-time firm is now worth an estimated $3.34bn.

6. Sir Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, founders of Stagecoach Group. Net worth: $1.49bn

Scottish businessman Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag were the children of a bus driver, but little did they know that the mode of public transport would line their pockets for their lifetimes. Souter graduated from university with a degree in accountancy and economics, and went on to found international transport firm Stagecoach Group with his sister in 1980. The company has since become a big name around the world, with operations in the UK, US and Canada. No sign of sibling rivalry there!

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