In its latest study, Emolument.com asked 1,555 professionals if they considered themselves to be wealthy. Results show that the great majority of professionals do not until they are well within the 1% wealthiest part of the population. Also, perceptions of wealth evolve dramatically throughout a career.

Do you consider yourself wealthy?

By country

Wealthy

* Above this number, more than half respondents answer ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Do you consider yourself wealthy?’

  • It takes how much?! In the UK, most professionals do not feel wealthy until they earn at least £370,000 per annum, which is more than twice the amount required to be among the 1% richest… (£162,000 per year)1
  • ‘I’m not rich, I pay taxes’. Professionals working in Singapore, Switzerland and UAE feel wealthy with far lower earnings those working in the UK or France (£139,000 in UAE against £370,000 in the UK), despite higher or similar costs of living 2. Highly attractive tax rates in those locations allow professionals to keep more of their income3.

Do you consider yourself wealthy?

By years of experience

Wealthy

  • Exponential expectations : Early on in their career, professionals need to earn ‘as little as’ £93,000 annually to feel wealthy. That figure climbs up to £300,000 for those with 5-10 years of experience, which means junior employees will need to triple their income if they want to still feel wealthy 10 years into their career.
  • I’m only as rich as my friends : Young professionals earning close to £100,000 per annum in their twenties feel wealthy as they are likely to be outliers and compare favourably to their peers who are in lower-paid jobs. However, high earners with 15+ years experience become used to higher standards of living, are probably financially responsible for a family, and are more likely to surround themselves with colleagues, neighbours and friends earning similar amounts. This means they require an ever increasing financial package in order to begin to feel wealthy (£435,000 per year).

Do you consider yourself wealthy?

By industry

Wealthy

  • Only 1 in 4 bankers considers himself wealthy : Surprisingly, this figure is in line with other industries, which would be especially startling to someone such as Labour MP John McDonnell, who considers anyone earning more than £70,000 as rich. This figure shows that perception of wealth is entirely relative.
  • Poor, poor technology employees : despite substantial increase in remuneration for technology workers in the last decade, they feel poorer than those working in the public sector (15% of technology workers feel wealthy versus 16% of those working in the public sector). The constant swirl of rags to riches stories and multi-millions deals might have inflated technology workers’ expectations.

Alice Leguay, COO and Co-Founder at Emolument.com said: ‘Considering current levels of frustration with their jobs and the industry as a whole, it is not surprising that only a small proportion of bankers feel wealthy. After all, they entered the sector with hopes of huge bonuses, a glamorous and aspirational job and now find themselves in one of the most regulated industries with ever-shrinking payouts and poor social perception of their choice of career, as well as huge standard of living costs which many struggle to maintain. This discrepancy leads many searching for an exit towards less regulated and more exciting opportunities in the venture capital, private equity and hedge fund space, where bankers now perceive opportunities for wealth to be within reach.’

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/percentile-points-from-1-to-99-for-total-income-before-and-after-tax
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/mapped-the-cheapest-and-most-expensive-countries-to-live-in/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_rates