Firstly, let me warn you: this post will have absolutely no bearing on how wealthy you will become!
Now, do you need to be smart to become wealthy? Is “but, I’m not very smart” a valid excuse for not even trying?
It turns out that the answer to both questions is NO.
You see, your IQ (more correct: your cognitive ability – i.e. your ‘smarts’) has very little to do with how wealthy you will become …
… studies have shown that 97.5% of the factors that can explain wealth have nothing to do with how smart you are:
Zagorsky found a correlation of 0.30 between IQ and (recent annual) income, which is relatively low — roughly 9% of the variance in income can be accounted for by IQ, and the other 91% is due to ‘other factors’. On average, he found that each IQ point added about $200 to $600 in annual income. As for net worth, the correlation with IQ was even lower, at 0.16, meaning an explanatory power of about 2.5% (leaving 97.5% of the variance to be explained by non-IQ factors). In his words, “Since the statistical results are not distinguishable from zero, this suggests IQ test scores and net worth are not connected.” You can view a scatter plot of net worth vs. IQ here: http://www.flickr.com/pho
the non-relationship between financial worth and iq
from the journal intelligence
He also dives into about 30 other variables with interesting outcomes. For example, your net worth at age 28 has only a slight correlation of 0.13 with your net worth at 33-41. Self esteem has a correlation of 0.11 with net worth. Being US-born (as opposed to being an immigrant) has a correlation of negative 0.01 with net worth, while having siblings has a net worth correlation of -0.06; but don’t worry, those aren’t significantly different from zero either.
Ironically, you will need a reasonably high IQ just to understand what this is all telling you, so let me simply remind you of a story that I shared some time back:
I bumped into a friend of mine, who was voted “least likely to succeed” at high school. I was surprised to see him stepping out of a shiny, new, red Ferrari.
After we exchanged pleasantries, I congratulated him on his success, told him that I wrote about personal finance, and asked him how he made his money.
He said that he simply bought and sold stuff on a 3% margin, and that’s been enough to fund an amazing lifestyle and a huge real-estate portfolio to underpin his retirement.
Well, I was incredulous … only a 3% margin?! And, I told him so.
But, no, he said: “I really do work on a 3% margin: I buy stuff for $1 and sell it for $3. That’s 3%!”
As I said, whether or not this post makes any sense to you whatsoever, it will have absolutely no bearing on how wealthy you will become … thank goodness 😉