Let’s assume you are a full-time Professional staff (P-staff) working as a civil servant in an international organization. Do you have any idea how long it will take you to reach that USD 1 million milestone i.e. to be a Professional staff millionaire? Let’s see if this is even achievable.
Why USD 1 million?
It is just a number that many people still aspire to have in their bank account.
It is just a number that many people still aspire to have in their bank account. However, achieving the elusive “millionaire” status of a USD 1 million net worth is less significant in today’s world than it once was. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a very significant number.
According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook 2021, to be top 1% of the global wealth holder, you only need USD 1,055,338.
In Switzerland, only 14.9% of the adult population have more than USD 1 million and the mean wealth per adult is USD 673,962.
In Geneva, there are 104,300 millionaires! Are you one of them?
The P-staff salary
The total salary of a P-staff in a UN organization comprises two parts:
1) a base salary, and
2) the post adjustment.
The salary currency base is US dollars.
The post adjustment compensates for the differences in cost of living, exchange rates and inflation since UN employees are distributed across different countries.
As a result, someone working in Geneva would have a higher post-adjustment than someone in Bangkok. However, both would end up with the same purchasing power in their respective countries as well as New York, which is the base city. So every city would have their post adjustment multiplier” to determine how much money they would get from post adjustment.
Assuming you are a full time P-staff, to calculate the total salary in USD, you would need to know two things:
- Annual net base salary – which depends on your grade and step level
- Post adjustment multiplier – which depends on your duty station (where you are based) e.g. 74.1 for Geneva
Total salary = Net base salary x (1 + post adjustment multiplier / 100)
How long will it take to be a millionaire?
To keep things simple, this table shows the total monthly salary range (which varies with step) for a P-staff in Geneva in USD. The other columns show you the average number of years needed to reach USD 1 million if you only save 10%, 20%, 50% or 70% of your salary, respectively.
|P-Level||Monthly salary (USD)||Save 10%||Save 20%||Save 50%||Save 70%|
|P1||5,300-7,300||133 years||66 years||27 years||19 years|
|P2||6,800-9,100||105 years||52 years||21 years||15 years|
|P3||8,700-11,200||84 years||42 years||17 years||12 years|
|P4||10,500-13,200||70 years||35 years||14 years||10 years|
|P5||12,600-15,400||59 years||30 years||12 years||8 years|
The lowest end of the salary scale for P-staff is P1 which is entry-level and usually for fresh graduates. On the top end is P5 which is for heads of divisions or expert level.
What does the table tell us?
- It is not possible to reach USD 1 million if you are saving 10% of your salary.
- It may be possible to reach USD 1 million if you join an international organization early.
- The chances of reaching USD 1 million is higher if you get promoted (obviously).
- It is possible to reach USD 1 million if you are frugal and have a high savings rate.
As a side note, in 2018, the average household in Switzerland saved USD 1,742 or 16% apparently making it one of the thriftiest countries in the world.
As you can see, it is impossible to reach USD 1 million if your savings rate is not high enough. Even if you have a high savings rate, it still takes many years of consistent and disciplined savings to reach USD 1 million!
Even then these calculations have not taken into account monthly deductions such as the pension and health insurance. Bear in mind that even with USD 1 million it would be difficult to live in an expensive city like Geneva indefinitely without a monthly salary or a big enough pension.
In a future post, we will explore all the options available to us as international civil servants to improve our financial situation. Spoiler alert: You need to invest your money! Check out the moneyland.ch millionaire calculator.
So what is the percentage of your salary that you are saving now? Do you expect to hit USD 1 million? Please let your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe!