Obtaining A Top 1% Net Worth Is Easier Than Ever Before

I might have made a significant error by disseminating incorrect information about what constitutes a top 1% net worth in America today. Over the years, I relied on data from the U.S. Survey Of Consumer Finances, released every three years by the Federal Reserve.

According to the October 2023 Survey Of Consumer Finances, a household net worth in the top 10 percent in 2022 was approximately $7.8 million. Consequently, a top 1% net worth would exceed $13 million.

top one percent net worth amount in America according to 2023 Survey Of Consumer Finances

I considered the data from the Federal Reserve as unquestionable, assuming they wouldn't provide false information. However, a report from Knight Frank, a global real estate research house, has now cast doubt on the Fed's numbers.

A Top 1% Net Worth In America According To Knight Frank

To hold a top 1% net worth in America, according to Knight Frank, a person in 2024 must have a net worth of at least $5.8 million. This amount is at least $7.2 million lower than what the Federal Reserve believes is required to be in the top 1% net worth in America.

While the report isn't set to be released until March 6, 2024, Bloomberg and Fortune seem to have had an early look and reported on the data. I'll be sure to highlight the report once it's out.

In the meantime, you can refer to Knight Frank's 2023 post and graph below on what it takes to join the 1% net worth club around the world. All the 2023 figures are between 5% – 15% lower than the 2024 net worth figures set to be released.

top 1% net worth in Europe, Asia, North America, Middle East, Latin America, and Africa

After seeing this data, I actually felt a huge sigh of relief! Any stress and anxiety I felt about needing to accumulate generational wealth to live comfortably in this ultra-competitive world went away.

I felt the same way when I read all the success stories from Financial Samurai community college graduates. No longer do I feel it is necessary for me to save $1.5 million for college for two.

A Commitment To Excellence In At Least One Thing

As a Financial Samurai, one of your goals is to strive to be in the top one percent of something, anything. Achieving a top one percent result brings an incredible amount of satisfaction given the amount of time and effort it took for you to get there.

This stretch goal doesn't necessarily have to be financially related; it can be related to sports, playing a musical instrument, earning an investment return, breaking a record, spending time with your children, or any other achievement. The goal is to push yourself to be the best at something for self-actualization purposes.

Although $5.8 million is still a lot of money to reach the top one percent in America, it sure is easier to obtain than $13+ million. There is now less of a need to hustle as hard, work as long, or save and invest as much if you aim to joint the ranks.

I explain the difference in the two numbers down below. Keep on reading.

Top One Percent Net Worth Levels Around The World

What it takes to join the top 1% richest people around the world 2024 - Knight Frank

For 2024, Monaco retains the top spot for the highest threshold worldwide at $12.8 million ($12.4 million in 2023). I've never been to Monaco, but it appears small, nice, and perhaps a little boring. But not having to pay income taxes sounds great!

Luxembourg and Switzerland round out the top three, where one needs more than $8 million to make the cut. Switzerland's top one percent net worth threshold was only $6.6 million in 2023, so $8 million is a substantial increase.

Having been to Lucerne and Zurich in Switzerland before, I can attest that prices for food and shelter there are incredibly expensive. Prices were at least 25% more expensive than here in San Francisco, which is perennially considered one of the most expensive cities in America.

Idyllic House On Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
My visit to Lucerne, Switzerland

Seeing Australia and New Zealand in the top tier of countries with the highest net worth threshold is somewhat surprising. Both countries have strong retirement savings systems, and Australia has a lot of natural resources. However, I'm not sure how New Zealanders are so affluent and can afford some of the world's most expensive real estate.

Best Countries To International Geoarbitrage To Make Your Money Go Farther

Out of all the countries in the above graph, I would consider moving to Spain ($2.5M), Japan ($1.7M), Malaysia ($485K), Brazil ($433K), and The Philippines ($57K) to stretch my dollar farther. Living like a one percenter and raising a family with more financial flexibility than 99% of the population sounds appealing.

I lived in Kobe, Japan, for two years and cherished my time there. When I visit Japan, I appreciate the food, culture, cleanliness, safety, countryside, skiing, and hot springs. Besides Malaysia and Singapore, I'm not sure if there's a country in the world that prepares food better than Japan.

Having also lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for four years, I found it to be hot and humid year-round, which may be too uncomfortable for many. However, food and housing costs are inexpensive, and the ocean-side resorts are fantastic. With a $1 million net worth, you can truly live well or spend $5,000 a month.

During business school at Berkeley, I had the time of my life studying abroad in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The vibe in Rio felt joyful, with warm beaches, good food, lively dancing, and people who seemed to prioritize working to live.

Pulau Redang, Taaras Resort & Spa
Taaras Resort at Pulau Redang, Malaysia was the bomb

Let's Appreciate How Good Americans Got It

Out of all the places I've visited and lived, I don't see a better country than America to build your fortune. If you're fortunate enough to live and work in America, seize the opportunity! You don't need a top one percent net worth to live a great life here.

We have a vast country brimming with possibilities. If we find one city or state less appealing, there's always the option to relocate to another. Technology has further empowered us to work for higher-paying companies while residing in more cost-effective cities.

If you want to accumulate a top one percent net worth, it's easier to do so in America than in Monaco, Australia, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand, which have higher thresholds. These countries simply don't have the same number of job and business opportunities as we have in America.

Personally, I'm delighted to have arrived in America in 1991 for high school, pursued college, and had the chance to work in finance from 1999 to 2012. I'm even more grateful for being able to leverage the internet to pursue what I enjoy and generate supplemental income.

Who Should We Trust? The Fed Or Knight Frank?

It might seem logical to assume that the Federal Reserve possesses more trustworthy financial data on American citizens than Knight Frank, a property broker based in London, England.

However, could it be that the British have insights into American wealth that we don't? Knight Frank might also be less biased than the U.S. Federal Reserve. Or, Knight Frank might be more biased in order to make the British look relatively less poor than the Americans.

Perhaps the difference in top one percent figures lies in the Federal Reserve calculating the net worth of families, whereas Knight Frank calculates the net worth of individuals. After all, two individuals generally have a larger combined net worth than one individual. If a family consists of more than two individuals working from the Fed’s perspective, then the discrepancy between the data would be even larger.

The thing is, very rarely is it 1 + 1 = 2 when it comes to calculating a top one percent net worth. For Knight Frank's top one percent net worth threshold to double from $5.8 million to $11.6 million to more closely match the Federal Reserve's estimate, a person with a top one percent net worth must also marry another person with a top one percent net worth. It happens, but clearly, it's only a small minority of cases.

Alternatively, it's possible that the Federal Reserve reports inflated figures to make more Americans feel insufficient about their financial status. By creating a perception of being poorer than we really are, the Fed could encourage more Americans to work harder and longer, generating more tax revenue.

Best Way To Build A Top One Percent Net Worth

Achieving a top one percent net worth is best accomplished through:

  1. Entrepreneurship
  2. Building a real estate portfolio with leverage
  3. Investing in stocks that dramatically outperform the S&P 500
  4. Investing in private growth companies that turn out to be multi-baggers
  5. Working at a high-paying job and saving and investing the majority of your money for decades

The wealthiest people in the world are almost exclusively entrepreneurs. They took outsized risks, resulting in outsized wealth. While investing in stocks, bonds, and other risk assets contributes to wealth-building, these investments are unlikely to propel you to a top one percent net worth.

To reach the top one percent, you must dramatically outperform the vast majority. This can be achieved through a combination of having a high income, aggressive saving and investing, time, and a willingness to take more risks.

The richest people I know didn't get rich by investing in index funds. Instead, once they got rich, then they invested in index funds as a way to preserve capital.

Below is a chart that shows the net worth allocation by level of wealth. Notice how the richer the individual gets, the greater the percentage of their wealth they have in business interests. This means equity in a public or private company.

Net worth composition by levels of wealth

The Real Top One Percent Net Worth Threshold In America

For those of you really tuned into personal finance, I suspect your gut instinct tells you that Knight Frank's $5.8 million top one percent threshold in America is too low. After all, the average American household is now a millionaire, although the median net worth is only about $200,000.

So what's the solution since nobody can really say for certain what is the exact threshold to be in the top one percent?

Like most conflicts, compromise is necessary. Therefore, I propose averaging the ongoing top net worth figures from both institutions to arrive at a truer top one percent net worth threshold figure in America.

For 2024, based on the average of the Federal Reserve's data and Knight Frank's data, the top one percent net worth in America begins at about $9.7 million. If you prefer, round up the figure up to $10 million, the ideal net worth to retire with according to thousands of FS readers.

$10+ million for a top one percent net worth in America sounds about right. Best of luck on getting richer than 99% of your fellow citizens. If you get there be sure to share what it's like!

Reader Questions

Why do you think there's such a discrepancy between the top one percent net worth thresholds reported by the Federal Reserve and Knight Frank? Who do you believe and why? What do you think is a top one percent net worth in America? Which countries would you be willing to relocate to for a wealthier life?

What is the minimum net worth amount to be considered rich?

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Invest Like The Top 1%

The wealthiest people in the world own equity in their own business or equity in other businesses. Index fund investing is a tried and true way to build wealth over time. But it's hard to outperform the masses who invest in index funds.

If you want to outperform, some of your investment capital should be allocated toward riskier investments that can potentially offer more upside. Personally, I invest between 20-30% of my capital in private growth companies, individual public companies, and alternative investments.

To invest in private growth companies, check out the Innovation Fund, which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI.

The investment minimum is also only $10. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. You can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. Traditional venture capital funds require capital commitment first and then hope the general partners will find great investments.

84 thoughts on “Obtaining A Top 1% Net Worth Is Easier Than Ever Before”

  1. I have always wondered if the net worth numbers for top 1% includes the equity in the house. If so, then for bay area needing a net worth of 13.4M is not surprising given the house prices in this area.
    Can you confirm if the equity in the primary residence should be included to calculate ones net worth?

  2. I’m 60 years old and married with 1 child in college. No debts and around $10.7M net worth. $9.3 million in savings and retirement accounts, all in treasuries earning 5.2% annually. I have two homes, one a city loft and the other a home in a vacation town a few hours away by car that are both paid off with HELOCs ($0 balance), so I can access available equity if I ever decide to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. Value of real estate combined is about $1.2M. The rest of net worth (approximately $200k) is in some hard assets. My daughter was a national merit finalist, so she had a couple of full ride options to colleges but got in to an Ivy League School, so I opted to splurge and do full pay. She has 3 more years to go. I am winding down my business and will pull another $1-3M out of it over the next few years.

    I am considering selling both homes and moving overseas to a country like Malaysia (Penang). If assets are throwing off around $480-500k per year, then I could rent a really nice penthouse with a private pool, etc. for around $3-3,500 per month, with really low food and other costs, and lots of travel and entertainment options. English is spoken widely, it’s safer than living in a big city in the US and cost of living is really low. Thus, a very high standard of living, while never touching principal and rolling some of the money back into investments. The other option would be to stay put with my two properties and live off of interest, but it would be more expensive than Malaysia. The only issue I would have is health care, where I will qualify for medicare in the US in under 5 years, where it would probably be challenging to get good health care in Malaysia after 60. The cost is much lower for health care in Malaysia, but if any serious health issue arose, it might be more advantageous to head back to the US.

    I really like the idea of going to another country where the cost of living is low and standard of living is high. You are effectively getting 3-5 times for your money. At retirement age, why keep working to try to earn another 3-4 million and take all of the risk, when you go move to another country where your 10-11M is worth 50M? Has anyone here tried this, and if so, how did it work out?

  3. $9.8M sounds about right.

    My wife and I are 34.

    I became a liquid millionaire at 20 starting my second company that I own to this day. I have not yet exited [turned down all offers to date… sometimes a whoops statement though on the long arc, my reason was to learn and be challenged more], though I hope to exit in the next 1-2 years. My liquid net worth is $4.2M (90%+ is after-tax) excluding the value of my company that I own the majority of. In my mid to late 20s, I had to execute a massive pivot and that resulted in some “time lost” as I spent many many millions of dollars a year to execute it rather than take any profits and drew down some of my personal savings in the meantime. I also didn’t invest much of my saved up cash until the pandemic crash [just didn’t know how, then learned and now manage my own portfolio very happily – turns out I love investing/finance], which resulted in muted returns outside of my company.

    My wife now makes around $400-$500k/yr in medicine so she’s been a great steady stream/stability to my craziness [absolutely huge years followed by sometimes terrible years], especially when combined with our dividend/passive income and my company income.

    While I am not a “huge spender” (I guess some would disagree :D), I have enjoyed my life all the way through. I don’t fly private, or even first/biz class often, but I do what I want, when I want, how I want. I now live in my dream city in SoCal, which was a dream not too long ago. So I’ve probably paid a few million bucks in taxes, spent a few million dollars [including taking care of my parents/family and helping them ditch a poor quality business for a far higher quality cash flowing business doubling their income since], and saved up these few million.

    I feel very well off, as I believe my actual total net worth is something greater and even if my company were to die in flames tomorrow, I have learned so much that building something new and getting back to where I was and then some seems very probable. I also feel very well off as I’ve always had full control of my schedule. Yes, I’ve worked stupid amounts at different points in my career and dealt with beyond insane acute stress at intervals, but 70% of my career has been sub 40 hours a week. So, quality of life has been very high, even though I’ve likely left plenty of money on the table doing this.

    While I’d like to see my liquid net worth (ex my company concentration) grow into the 8 figure range, I don’t think I’d change my lifestyle much from here outside of buying our third home and renting our first (already) and second (to be rented) out. There is not much else I desire financially anymore, nor do I plan to leave anything significant for our future children. I grew up lower middle class with my immigrant parents, and I want my children to carry a fire that the utmost financial security simply can’t provide them.

    True rich though? That’s probably something pretty up there – maybe $50M? I just don’t desire it. If it happens, cool.

    1. Having a wife who earns $500K a year is huge! Congrats. No need for you to grind so hard.

      Alas, my wife doesn’t have a day job since 2025 and refuses to go back to work, so all the responsibility is on me.

      If you have kids, you might feel the need to accumulate a lot more wealth.

      1. It helps a ton! I usually out earn her 1.5-2x in any given year, but 2023 was a bad year for me and 2024 is a recovery year that might just end up really stellar. I’m quite grateful that there is no pressure. That allows our yearly income to generally be above the 7 figure range when optimized, or a bad year like 2023 is still about 650k with her income, our passive/dividend income, and 0 company income.

        We are saving at a pretty rapid clip nowadays since I really tightened up our budgets in recent years just to accelerate wealth accumulation and invest.

        Selling my company may also bring a decent windfall so we are primed to end up with a 20-30M net worth if we don’t blow it out of the park in 10-15 years. If we do manage to do decently better than we expect (such as the company I’m hoping to start next actually takes off), 30-50M seems reasonable! Not for sharing with our future kids though.

  4. Difference between the 2 data set: median vs mean. Numbers are approx. the same for the first 9 quintiles, only in the last (highest) quintile they differ. This is driven by the spread of wealth in this quintal, skewing the mean. Hope this helps to explain the difference.

  5. Jorge Herrera

    Net worth in the survey conducted by the Federal Reserve is measured by an economic unit designated as family. If this parameter is given a similar definition by the Census Bureau, it would appear that the survey gauges the wealth of the population sector with the highest income. The census for 2022 reported the following median incomes:
    • All households $74,580
    • Family households $95,450
    • Nonfamily households $45,440
    Of note, results from research aimed at measuring the strength of the correlation between income and net worth are somewhat inconclusive.

    Your estimate of $9.7 million is corroborated by the World Inequality Database. As of 2022, Piketty determined that the 1% of equal-split adults (definition provided in portal) with the highest net worth held at least $4.89 million. Assuming that the typical family household comprises two such individuals, the economic unit would own more than $9.8 million.

  6. We are in our early 60s, and I retired 3 years ago but my spouse is till working and making great money. We both came from lower middle income immagrant families with parents knew nothing about investing.

    We are lucky to have professional jobs, and have never worked in banking or high tech, just two w-2 employees for 30+ years in private sector and we are not even good investors and didn’t start investing until in our late 40s. However, we are very frugal and lucky to have been able to achieve financial freedom and are considered UHNW given our net worth as of 12/31/2023.

    We live very modestly, drive two 10+ year old Japanese cars, live in a house bought 30 years ago in Bay Area. It is difficult to change our mind set to go from being frugal to lavish live style. We have continued to shop at Costco, Walmart and Target.

    We are concerned that we have continued to save too much (55-65%) and really need to spend our hard earned money but we don’t have much material needs these days. Our kids are grown and have professional jobs, and we will help them to purchase their first homes and fund our grandchildren’s (none yet) education when time comes.

    We are very fortunate to have accumulated what we have even though we never though it was possible. Live within your means, and continue to save and invest will get you to your financial goal. In addition, having a right life partner definitely helps to achieve the financial goal much more possible.

    1. Financial Samurai

      Thanks for sharing. Can you share your estimated net worth and what you plan to do with any money left over?

      1. We have over $36m+ as of 12/31/2023, and my financial goal is to get to $42m when my husband retires in the next 3 years. Do we need this much? Absoluately not given our life style!

        We will be able to live off our passive income once my husband retires, and I don’t expect to touch our assets for a very long time if ever.

        We will gift some money to our siblings and also donate a portion to the charities with our estate when time comes.

        1. Wow! That’s huge. I’d love to know how you were able to get to such a high net worth after only starting investing in your 40s. What exactly did you guys do for a living and how much did you make? Getting some numbers and understanding some math going from not much money into over $36 million net worth in 20 years would be very helpful to understand.

          Given the amount of frugality, can I assume that both of you really love your jobs? Because I think most people will start to take things down after $10 million if they don’t really love their jobs.

          If you have kids, how do you think about giving money to them to help them out while they are most in need and you are still alive?

          Thanks for any color you might provide. I have a fear of dying too much and initiated my decumulation phase in 2023 at the age of 45.

          1. Christine Minasian

            Wow! I want to know also Michelle! To accumulate that much without being business owners?? Good for you. You must have saved every penny of your extra income for years!

  7. Our 2024 Net Worth (As of Jan-2024) was around $15M w/investments mostly in blue chip companies. As to what it feels like to be within the top 1%, I’d say nothing special. We lead a normal life (just like millions of American citizens) and shop at stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Rei and pretty much anything in between. However, we avoid spending money on what we consider unnecessary, particularly in entertainment industry (concerts, sporting events, etc.) and the so called charities that use emotional based advertising to deepen their own pockets (St. Jude, Shriners Children, Wounded Warriors, etc.). We do however support our local communities.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Maybe the age of attaining a top1% net worth has something to do with it too. More exciting achieving 1% when younger than older perhaps.

      How old are you?

        1. Cool, at 62, are you concerned with dying with too much? This is my concern at 46, which is part of the reason why I bought a nicer house last year. I feel like dying with more than $5 million feels like a waste of time, energy, and stress from when we were younger.

          1. Not really. We have already decided that ALL of our assets will be left for wild life around the globe… and whether we leave $5M or $50M upon our exit, it really doesn’t concern us. We’ve been on all the continents during our multiple foreign assignments… so we have kind of “been there… done that”. Right now, we are happy and content with our life style and really don’t see the need to keep spending for the “sake” of spending…

            1. Financial Samurai

              That’s good. If you have children, what are your thoughts on giving money to them?

              Is there a net worth target you’re shooting for before finally calling it quits?

              1. We are “DINKS”… too career oriented! Our company moved us every three to four years so we didn’t focus on have a family as our constant move would have been hard on the kids. Though we didn’t get to have kids, we were enriched with many cultures around the world.

                As for the net worth target, nothing in the works in terms of our goal, but suffice to state that our Net “effective” growth is around 10%.

  8. When did you live in Kobe? I happened to live there from 1990-1993 during my high school years.

    Now that I live in the SF Bay Area, I wonder what threshold is needed for 1% wealth in this region.

      1. I had a lot of fun in Kobe. Traveling is great for kids as it teaches them to adjust to change, which can be handy later in life. And you will have great memories to look back on, instead of the regular routines. My eldest is now in college and he is eager to travel, even with his parents. We are hoping to make a trip to Japan this summer.

        Fourteen to twenty million is quite a threshold. I think I’ll have to be satisfied with the lower threshold for US top 1% wealth.

  9. As a CPA in Massachusetts (one of the highest income states) I knew that data was incorrect and reported it to you maybe four years ago. Oh well live and learn good for you. There is inherited wealth to consider but the $13M number meant pretty much no one making around the 1% (592K 2023) US AGI income (a real known number) for twenty years and saving a great deal would ever enter the 1%. That math makes no sense to me. Also say if $13M was the true threshold and it only yielded 5% the AGI threshold would be about $650k instead. No one new would ever enter the 1% meanwhile we know there is turnover. One can conclude there is indeed a strong correlation between long term 1% income and those who are 1%ers.

    1. What exactly did you report 4 years ago and what was the situation then?

      You don’t think you could achieve a top 1% net worth with a top 1% income after 15-20 years?

      1. Hi Sam, Math would not support it if it was $13 plus.
        Modeled Current last report AGI $592k *.70 (Low average tax effect) $414K less $100k likely living costs = $314K. contribute for 20 year the $314K at $26K a month even with 7% compounding its only $12.8M and we know the 1% threshold for the AGI over the last 20 years average is much lower than $592K. So the 5.8M makes a lot more sense Cheers

        1. How did you come up with 7%? The S&P 500 has returned on average 10%, and top 1% income people might have the ability to outperform the average S&P 500 growth rate over a 20 year period.

          There’s entrepreneurship, investing in real estate with leverage, investing in individual stocks, working at a growth company, getting paid more than the 1% threshold over time, etc.

          Related: Net worth growth targets to shoot for

          1. Most high worth individuals I deal with have a mix of assets which return 5 or 7%. They’re generally not too flashy in life either. Watch out is that S&P ripe to fall??? Look at Shiller’s PE it’s at 34.5, you can guess what happened every time it was over 20 in the past. I know AI and this is different this time. :)

              1. I would say mostly professionals or self-employed who worked long careers, raised families in the suburbs and didn’t hit home runs. They are concerned about wealth protection and generally prefer to reduce their risk profile. Too much risk and sooner or later the gambles don’t pay off.

  10. My wife and I share all our accounts and income. I’ve often wondered, when referencing data on net worth, are these values interpreted as “household net worth”, or should I be dividing our account values in half when assessing how we stand? Is there an industry consensus on this?

    1. There isn’t. Household in America is generally a catch all for all number of people in a household.

      So with the Knight Frank data, you can shoot for $5.8 million per person given it says “individual.”

  11. I would argue that the Fed’s indication appears closer to reality especially with asset prices at all time highs. For instance a high earning millennial professional like myself would struggle to purchase a home on the coast of California even though I am in my early 40’s and have a top 1-2% net worth with ~9.5 million in liquid investable assets, but I will continue to build assets and “Buy Utility and Rent luxury” like a wise man said. Have a great day!

      1. Looking in the 3-3.5 million range, my concern is my income, net worth and down payment can meet all 3 FS requirement’s but I worry my income (own vet practice) can’t keep up with this new fancy lifestyle

        1. Gotcha. If you buy that house, I’m pretty sure you’ll find a way to make things work. We are rational beings, and will take appropriate action to solve discomfort.

          You’ve got so far already!

  12. Sam here is what i am curious about:

    1. How fast is top 5% growing their wealth each year on average? is this 3-4%?
    2. How fast is top 1% growing their wealth each year?
    3. How fast does the top 0.1% grow their wealth each year?

    The strategy to reach those levels will depend on how fast the wealth group is breaking away from the masses which i call “the escape velocity”. Say for example top 1% wealth is 10M$, if they are compounding by say 10% each year, someone say with 6M$ and 500K$ net income added each year to their wealth compounding at the same rate may only catch up to the group in 15 years unless they can compound faster. My gut feel based the graph your provided in “two levels of rich” is that top 0.1% compounds at around 8% while the 1% compounded historically at a lower rate (perhaps 3-4%) which may perhaps have changed in the recent years as they may have gotten financially smarter. As those groups break away, the wealth gap will increase further making it unachievable even if you added 1M$ a year to investments and compounded at the same rate…

    1. The gap will only continue to widen, which is why I encourage people to continue saving and investing as much as possible.

      The good thing is, thanks to modern technology, medicine, and stable civilizations, life is as good as never before, without needing to be super rich.

  13. Reading the comments and reflecting more on this topic, I am left with the thought of why we are fascinated with the top “1%?” I’m not exactly sure. I hope a previously very happy person with their 2mill NW is not now stressed out…LOL. I have no idea of the NW of anyone outside of my own household, including my family and closest friends. So it is very hard to understand or add meaning to these statistics. Also, top 1% sounds like it is so broad as to be someone irrelevant anyway – from 5-10m NW to Warren Buffet 100B NW. The idea of “being great at something” being defined by reaching top 1% NW doesn’t really resonate with me.

    I think the more interesting point this brings up for readers of this blog is that if a “comfortable” retirement requires 10mill, which solidly puts one in or close to 1% top net worth, what does that say?

    I read a number of financial blogs and it does seem like this one is more geared to the affluent and becoming very affluent, not so much FIRE. For FIRE absolute NW numbers are somewhat meaningless, what makes one comfortable/happy in retirement more simply comes down to lifestyle.

    1. When it comes to building above average wealth, it’s good to know what to shoot for. And in general, it’s good to have specific targets for better focus.

      Then once you have enough; accumulating more becomes more of a game. A middle class lifestyle today is as good as a top 1% lifestyle from 50 years ago.

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    SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN TILL YOUR FINGERS HURT…
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  15. Why did you say this?

    “Any stress and anxiety I felt about needing to accumulate generational wealth to live comfortably in this ultra-competitive world went away.”

    Why did you have a need previously?

      1. Well, after making some amateur mistakes, I decided to de-market for a while. Now I think 10% a year is more than sufficient. More specifically, I feel one shouldn’t have to use the market —their day/night job should be enough. In that respect, I’ve tried to stop poring over the market’s internals. It’s kind of obsessive and life was simpler before I started bothering with it. It’s easy for greed to take over (for me) so had to back off.

          1. Definitely will be working forever if I don’t get on a higher ladder of a job – that for sure. Last year just made it over expenses. So, based on your article, to be comfortable I’ll have to find a job(or set of them) that pays about 50% more. It was like for that for a couple years but the position ended so had to take something less, just gotta keep trucking.

  16. PS – if Knight Frank is doing individual net worth then their number is way high for Australia. Australia numbers I quoted are for households. I would definitely think there data is likely not as good as they try to cover multiple countries. Probably some intern took data from non-comparable sources for each country and didn’t try to harmonize them :)

    1. That’s exactly my thoughts. Seems it is cherry picked to make british commonwealth countries look better than they are while US lower. I suspect that if they used Fed like data for all US would trump. No way new zealand apple to apple is above US unless all UHNWI are moving there to prep for a doomsday :D. Looks like it was cherry picked on purpose (perhaps to stoke demand for properties in british common wealth and ireland) and mostly for marketing buzz.

  17. In the Federal Reserve table you posted, the 95th percentile is at $3.8 million – the median of the top decile. The mean of the top decile is $7.8 million. Probably the threshold for the top 10% is around $2 million. Knight Frank data likely excludes home equity, pensions etc and is for “investable assets” resulting in a lower number.

    Here in Australia in 2019-20 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the top 1.2% had a net worth of at least AUD 7 million and the top 0.6% AUD 10 million. Latter is currently worth USD 6.5 million. Hmmm that about matches the Knight Frank numbers for Aus and I am sure ABS includes home equity. So, I am puzzled how they come up with a lower number for the US than for Australia.

  18. The fed values are for the median (or mean) net worth of the top 10% (or 1%), where as the Knight Frank numbers are the minimums needs to enter those categories (at least that’s how I read it). According the the fed, the median net worth of the top 10% is about $3.8m. That means a net worth of $3.8m will put you in the 95th percentile (95% of people have a net worth less than you). Within the top 10% category, a net worth of $3.8m will mean the same number of people have a net worth lower than you, as do higher.

    The fed and KF numbers may be similar, but we don’t know since they’re measuring different things.

    On a side note, the means are pretty irrelevant here, as they’ll be skewed by very HNW individuals.

    1. Why focus on the median when you can focus on the mean. Knight Frank is using the mean so you can use Min for the Fed numbers and Craig apples to apples.

      1. “To hold a top 1% net worth in America, according to Knight Frank, a person in 2024 must have a net worth of at least $5.8 million”

        This is not the mean. This is the 99th percentile. In other words, the minimum net worth needed to enter the top 1%.

        Where do you see that they are focusing on the mean?

        1. Isn’t it possible to express posts what the the 99th percentile is based on the mean instead of the average?

          Or am I completely off? For an apples to apples comparison, we find the Fed’s top 1% threshold based on the mean. Seems to make sense to me.

  19. So the Fed says in 2022 you needed $7.8 million to be in the top 10 percent for household net worth? And $13 million to be in the top 1% of households?

    And the Knight thing says you needed $5.8 million to be the top 1% of individuals?

    Would assume if Knight did households then would take another 50% of that $5.8 million to reach the top 1%. That’s a pretty big disconnect.

    Does Knight say anything about getting into the top 10% for an individual at least?

    1. Fed is saying the mean net worth of the top 10% is $7.8 million. Not the threshhold to be in the top 10%. They show the threshold for the top 5% at just under $4 million.

      1. Thanks, was pretty sure was comfortably in top 5%, but don’t get to mean of top 10%. Which is a further indication of how much some of those 1% (or 1% of 1%) skew things. Probably need to see a breakdown by ranges, such as 90 to less than 95 percentile, 95 percentile to less than 99 percentile, and then the 1% (or possibly the the lower 99% of the 1%, followed by the final 1% of the 1%) to get a better visual picture of things.

        Ah, helps to frame things. Easy to find a chart showing Fed data from 2016. Guestimating with a straight edge looks like the 90 to less than 95 percentile had about 11% of the income and 14% of the wealth, the 95 percentile to less than 99 percentile looks like it was 14% of the income and 26% of the wealth, while the final 1% had 25% of the income and 38% of the wealth.

        Not saying these are correct, just what the chart from the Fed shows.

        So the 1% might have income averaging more than 7 times the average of the folks in the next 4%, and average almost 6 times as much as wealth. And would also have the greatest asymmetry within their own range, no doubt.

  20. Anothet great article. I was feeling the same when i saw new so interesting you picked up on the same. I however believe the fed numbers out of suspicion that the Brits are trying to make themselves feel better by showing the gap between them Americans are not so great. Also both Monaco and Switzerland have implanted UHNWI (including from shady locations) vs homegrown so does not really compare to US which is mostly its own success.

    So i trust Fed numbers than a real estate company. Fed may have gotten the household wealth right and this company may have just divided it by a fixed number to guesstimate. I also think they would lack real resources to conduct a global study as deep as the fed in each country. Sounds more like marketing to generate buzz than anything deep. I agree with sources of wealth and the line up. I however would only add that they also do not tend to disrupt compounding (oerhaps due to business interest being not as liquid as index funds especially if privately held).

  21. You’re mixing things up by using mean net worths (which will get skewed when you talk about the top 10 percentile by those in the top 1 percentile, or when you talk about the top 1 percentile by those like Buffett in the top 0.1 percentile) when you should be using median net worth (i.e. if there are 100 people in the top 1 percentile and you ordered them in ascending net worth, what is the net worth of person 50).

    I suspect one of the reasons you think the Fed’s 1% number is higher than the other source is because you extrapolated from means, whereas they used medians/actual cutoffs.

  22. The takeaway on this should be, whether your number is $5.8 million or $11-13 million, is that the absolute number just ain’t that high. Lol, it really means there are a ton of people who have built up almost nothing. Why compare yourself to them? The truth is the argument should be over the absolute number needed to be remotely wealthy. It sure in the heck ain’t $5-10 million! A barely decent house can soak up $2 million. There ain’t much left after that for Mercedes and fancy restaurants.

    I propose something like a minimum of $20 million before you can claim to be fairly well off. Sorry to disappoint some!

  23. Allen R Reed

    Sam, I was starting to wonder if I was the only person who thought the Knight Frank number was very much on the low side. I have thought for the last few years that the correct lowest entry number into the top 1% of net worth would be in the $11M to $13M range. Those numbers seems quite consistent with the trend of such numbers over the last decade. Given the performance of the stock market over the last decade and overall increases in wealth, I found the well publicized $5.8 figure of Knight Frank quite surprising.

    Keep up the great work!
    Allen

  24. “Knight Frank, a person in 2024 must have a net worth of at least $5.8 million. This amount is at least $7.2 million lower than what the Federal Reserve believes is required to be in the top 1% net worth in America.”
    => You are comparing Individual networth from Knight Frank vs Family/household network from the Fed. Apples & oranges…..

    1. Check out the end of the post.

      Do you think 1+1 = 2 with most households? If so, why? Because I don’t since most top 1% net worth people don’t marry another top 1% net worth person.

  25. Hey Sam,

    Thanks for the content. I’ve reached out before on this and I know you don’t consider yourself knowledgeable enough on the subject but the best way for most people to make the top levels of wealth in the coming decade is to allocate to Bitcoin. And when I say Bitcoin I mean Bitcoin, not crypto. Yes, Bitcoin is volatile today because it’s in infant store of value and growing to one day the most valuable store of value we have ever seen. That is the reason for volatility in dollar terms. I would recommend most of your readers to allocate at least 1%-5% of Bitcoin. Ideally more. It would be curious for a future survey of your readers how many have either Bitcoin or a Bitcoin ETF(or MSTR). Thanks!

    1. Financial Samurai

      I don’t have deep knowledge on Bitcoin. I treat it as a speculative asset where you can take a punt with 1-10% of your investable capital and see what happens. I’ve been taking punts since 1999 to some success and failures.

      1. You’re a finance expert, Sam…It’s time to learn more about Bitcoin. The time is right, as this thing is about to go off! I also second Kurt’s idea to survey your readers about their BTC holdings.

        1. I know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to write about it and feel good about it. I don’t like writing about speculative investments that are non-tangible for my audience. Happy to leave it to others.

          1. Buddhist Slacker

            OMG there are so many people writing about crypto. Seriously no need for another person to write about it. That said, crypto is my best investment by far. I’ve been watching Bitcoin since 2010 before it was BTC and when normal people could mine it. I never did mine any, and BTW I am super glad I never did because I lost the hard drive that it would have been on lol. Anyway, all those years checking out Bitcoin, and knowing what I know now about the financial markets and politics and government regulation, I was extremely confident to buy BTC and Coinbase after the asset managers got wind of the thing, and then loading on both when they tanked during the whole SEC thing. For me it’s a no brainer and a buy and hold thing. Definitely the way to get wealthy is to pounce when opportunity comes. Everybody I know that got wealthy in the markets “got lucky”. You just have to watch your space whatever that space happens to be, and be confident and knowledgeable enough to know when to act decisively.

              1. Buddhist Slacker

                I would sell zero! :-) there’s nothing I need to buy. I’m kind of a minimalist.

    2. Matthew Drybred

      Bitcoin may work out as a store of value in the long-term IF it becomes widely adopted as a store of value. However, in my opinion, its value is solely based on the greater fool theory and, to me, it serves no more practical purpose than investing in crypto.

      Also, because the value of BTC seems to be predominantly measured in USD and people have become wealthy by *selling* BTC and *receiving* USD in return, then which is in reality more valuable, or more precisely, more wanted, BTC or USD?

      I invest in companies that produce something that the market wants, and so there is a reason for my investment’s value to increase and, for the most part, I’m not selling my investment to someone else by convincing them it’ll be worth more in the future simply because people are hoping that it becomes a store of value and will replace fiat currency.

  26. Hi Sam,

    I know you often opt to use the mean statistic rather than the median – I think that is tripping up some of your analysis here. Looking at Table 2 from the survey of consumer finances, the MEDIAN net worth of the 90-100 net worth bracket is $3,794,600 in 2022. The median of this population segment would represent the 95th percentile of the broader population. It is fair to say that having a household net worth of $7,810,500 would easily provide you with a top 5% net worth according to the SCF.

    Its also important to note that the SCF “over samples” the higher end of the spectrum on income. There are weights that can be used to counteract this when trying to calculate statistics/make conclusions about the broader population (I assume that those weights were utilized by the Fed when they made Table 2), but depending upon what data you are grabbing from the SCF, you may want to be aware of that when calculating averages.

    1. Makes sense to me. What do you think is the true 1% threshold in America and why based on the two reports?

      People have to ask themselves whether they want to be median, average, above median, or above average. I aim to be above average.

      1. It looks like the Richmond Fed used the SCF data to estimate the top 1% of household wealth to be $11,640,000. They report that $1,559,240 would put you in the top 10%. I agree with you in that I think $10M is a reasonable number to use for general purposes.

        I think the difference between household wealth (Fed) and individual wealth (Knight) is a big driver between the different numbers reported between the two reports.

        Let’s be honest – I believe you aim to be more than “above average.” There is nothing wrong with striving for greatness! It should be celebrated! It is also an interesting human characteristic that we occasionally judge the sufficiency of our worth not by what it can provide for us – but for how it compares to others’. We can often motivate ourselves into exerting more effort in a race than in a time-trial.

        1. Sounds good Blake.

          The fact is, nobody, not even the omnipotent government has 100% certainty of what any number or fact is, such as the population of the country.

          But we can “triangulate” the data to come up with something reasonable and realistic. When it comes to wealth, it’s good to know how we stack up against each other as one variable.

          But there’s also a subjective view about wealth as well that has to do with health, family, relationships, and more.

          Related: When Do You Finally Feel Rich – It’s Not Just About The Money

          Personally, I love seeing the $5.8 million Knight Frank number. It’s like realizing you only need a 1,100 SAT score to get into an Ivy League school instead of a 1,500… or that top universities will not penalize certain races just because of their identity. Not bad!

  27. Great article Sam: Couple thoughts:

    1. Like you, where do the folks in Australia and New Zealand make all that money? I need to check that out. Mining? Banking?

    2. Pathways to wealth – #6 inherit and/or marry well as another path to inherit. Completely agree on the 5 listed and their order. #1 was the difference for me.

    3. Such a huge difference to know whether Frank study means household or individual to be 5.8 mill. There are so many more married 40+ year olds than single that pretty meaningless to say 5.8, if that really means 11.6 million for “households”, which then is actually right in line with the Feds 13 mill.

  28. Fascinating data, thanks for sharing! I love looking at research studies and agree that blending an average seems like the right way to go. There are always variances in the inputs and scope that researchers use in their reports so it’s hard – practically impossible really – to find exact apples to apples comparisons of studies. Your articles that highlight the real estate housing price data show this clearly too.

    I haven’t traveled to Monaco or Switzerland yet but hope to for a short visit someday. I’ve seen and heard great things and am so curious about their sticker prices of everything. I’m not sure where I would want to settle outside the US for a wealthier life though. Somewhere in Asia perhaps but that wouldn’t be until long after my kids are settled. But by then I’d probably want to live closer to them vs farther away. It’s one of my dreams to be a happy and welcome part of their adulthood.

  29. Hey Sam – What would you say the investment timeline looks like for the Innovation Fund and what are your thoughts on it compared to the ARK Venture Fund (ARKVX) which also has low minimums for the average investor?

    1. I like to take a 5-10-year investment time horizon when investing in venture capital / private growth companies. These companies need time to build and play out.

      I think Cathie Wood was voted as the #1 fund manager for destroying wealth according to Morningstar. She has missed the AI boom and stuck with Tesla way too long. She is a great marketer, but the track record is abysmal.

  30. FWIW, Monaco is where you go AFTER you’ve accumulated large wealth and/or when you are about to get a windfall. It’s about insulating large amounts of cash from future taxation and/or your personal geopolitical risk. And whenever you’re on the ground there in Monaco, you basically are simultaneously living in France and Italy (short train ride East or West).

  31. Sam, I’ve already been in the top 1%, I’ve served my country – Air Force. Now, inching my way up financially to meet my next goal $5M net worth within next two years. Keep on keeping on with your posts. Make the world better!

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