Pathways To Wealth

How Do You Achieve A High Net Worth?

3 in 4 Americans don’t think they’ll ever achieve a high net worth

A new survey commissioned by Personal Capital, an Empower Company, finds that most adults prioritize a high salary (64%) as a top factor in building wealth. Here’s where they may be leaving money on the table. A complete overview of survey results and insights from Brownstein can be found here.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo., April 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Of Americans who don’t currently consider themselves to have a “high” net worth, only 23% think they are likely to achieve this status, according to a new survey* of 2,209 U.S. adults commissioned by digital wealth manager Personal Capital, an Empower Company.

The survey, fielded by Morning Consult, reveals perceptions around net worth in honor of National Financial Literacy Month, celebrated throughout April.

“Your net worth is a powerful financial metric because it gives you a bird’s eye view of your complete financial situation,” says Michelle Brownstein, a certified financial planner and vice president of Personal Capital Private Client Group. “This month is a great occasion to set goals around growing your net worth.”

Americans say the top factors in achieving a “high” net worth are frequently tracking your finances (65%), having a high salary (64%), and earning from multiple sources (63%).

But Brownstein advises looking beyond hustle culture to grow your net worth.

Make Your Money Work For You

“Making money is only part of how a person builds wealth,” says Brownstein, who works with high-net-worth clients with at least $1 million in their portfolios. “It’s also important to make sure your money is working as hard for you as you work to earn it.”

Although most survey respondents (59%) agree that it’s important to maintain a diversified investment portfolio, fewer (46%) prioritize maxing out retirement accounts.

This could be to their detriment. Retirement accounts – like 401k plans and IRAs – contribute 55% of the wealth of high-net-worth individuals, according to anonymized Personal Capital Dashboard data**.

“Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are powerful investing tools,” Brownstein says. “As your income increases, be sure to increase contributions to your retirement accounts – don’t let that incoming cash sit idle.”

She also suggests getting clear on what makes up your personal net worth; only 35% of Americans are confident they understand what “net worth” means, even though most (91%) have heard of it.

“In many cases, you don’t need to be a high-net-worth investor to achieve your goals and long-term retirement needs. The key is to make a plan and have a goal you’re working toward,” Brownstein says. “Most likely, this does entail setting a net worth goal that will allow you to sustain your lifestyle when you retire.”

Brownstein recommends Personal Capital’s free net worth calculator, which aggregates a person’s financial accounts for real-time net worth tracking. Personal Capital’s free tools enable 3.3 million U.S. households to plan for long-term goals like retirement.

Key Takeaways

  • A massive 74% of U.S. adults don’t think it’s likely they will ever achieve their definition of a “high” net worth.
  • People tend to underestimate “high net worth,” citing $400,000 as the median average, which is significantly less than the broadly accepted definition of a HNWI: someone with at least $1 million in liquid assets. Getting clarity on your net worth is an important step toward financial wellbeing.
  • Retirement investing plays a critical role in many millionaires’ portfolios. Of high-net-worth individuals who use the Personal Capital dashboard, retirement accounts – like 401k plans and IRAs – contribute 55% of their overall wealth.
  • Tracking your net worth over time can be a valuable indicator of your financial health. Yet only 35% of U.S. adults are confident they understand what “net worth” means, even though most (91%) have heard of it.




This survey was conducted online within the United States by Morning Consult on behalf of Personal Capital from March 22-25, 2022, among a sample of 2,209 U.S. adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
** as of April 1, 2022. Personal Capital does not independently verify the accuracy or ownership of the assets listed on an individual’s dashboard.
About Personal Capital, an Empower Company
Personal Capital is a remote-delivery, industry-leading digital wealth management company that helps people transform their financial lives through technology and advisory services. The company’s state-of-the-art technology provides consumers with a holistic financial picture and is used by over 3 million people to track $1.3 trillion in account assets (as of 1/31/22). Its wealth management advisors provide expert guidance, and customized strategies, based on a personal understanding of an investor’s financial picture and goals. For more information, please visit or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Advisory services are offered for a fee by Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”), a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Investing involves risk. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. You may lose money. PCAC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”), an Empower company. PCC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Empower Holdings, LLC. © 2021 Personal Capital Corporation. All rights reserved.


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