Brits put happiness above wealth as a sign of success

6 December 2016

Wealth is often regarded as a key sign of success. But research by top 10 accounting firm Mazars, which looked at what people consider success to be, shows seven in 10 people think being happy is the real benchmark of success.

Wealth is often regarded as a key sign of success.

But research by top 10 accounting firm Mazars, which looked at what people consider success to be, shows seven in 10 people think being happy is the real benchmark of success.

Of the 2,000 UK adults polled less than a fifth said being a millionaire defines you as ‘successful’, however over a quarter said being charitable is an indicator you are doing well in life.

Six out of 10 said being financially secure was among the top indicators you’ve made it while half pointed to achieving career aspirations and four out of 10 cited being able to retire early as a true sign of success.

Yet just three in 10 adults have a plan in place to achieve their aspirations and goals.

Ian Pickford, partner in Mazars’ private client team said: “Our research shows that people define success in lots of different ways. Having enough money is important but it’s really interesting to see ‘being a millionaire’ and other materialistic definitions of success are way down the list.”

Treating people fairly, acting ethically and feeling fulfilled in life also featured in the top fifteen indicators of success, while having a personalised number plate, a gym instructor and eating in top restaurants, appeared much further down the list of things people consider to be a sign of success.

Mr Pickford continued: “The results suggest people have a good idea of what they consider success to be, or not be, but most of us have little or no idea how we will get what we really want out of life.”

“Only three in 10 people in the UK say they have a plan in place. This means millions are in danger of not achieving their life goals and being unhappy or unfulfilled because of their failure to plan.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail. Research shows the simple act of formulating a life or financial plan and writing it down makes it much more likely to happen.”

Brits top fifteen signs of success

  1. Being happy
  2. Being healthy
  3. Being financially secure
  4. Being debt free
  5. Achieving your career aspirations
  6. Feeling fulfilled in life
  7. Being able to retire early
  8. Owning your house outright
  9. Having a balanced work/family life
  10. Having a happy marriage
  11. Treating people fairly and with respect
  12. Having polite, well behaved children you are proud of
  13. Acting ethically in your day to day life
  14. Being charitable
  15. Feeling respected by your peers



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Notes to editors:

  1. The Success Survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Mazars Financial Planning Ltd. A representative sample of 2,000 people across the UK were asked about their attitudes to success in August 2015.
  2. The Success Survey white paper is available to download at


Signs of success

People overwhelmingly put their happiness and health ahead of material measures in determining whether someone is successful or not, with ‘being financially secure’ and ‘achieving career aspirations’ following closely behind.

Having a happy marriage, being able to retire early, feeling fulfilled, having polite well-behaved children you are proud of and owning your house outright also feature in the top indicators of success for Brits.

Attitudes to achieving success

Men were more likely to consider they had achieved success in life (16 per cent) than women (13 per cent). They were also more optimistic they would achieve success in their life, 26 per cent against 13 per cent for women.

18 to 24 year olds were the most optimistic about achieving success. 7 per cent said they already were successful and 46 per cent felt confident they would be.

Over 55’s were unsurprisingly, the most likely to say they had already achieved success at 23 per cent.

Planning for success

Across the UK, 28 per cent of people have a plan to achieve what they feel is being successful in life with men being slightly more inclined to plan than women, 29 per cent against 27 per cent.

18-24 year olds were the most likely to have a plan in place to achieve success (48 per cent). The number declines gradually through the age groups and is lowest in the 55 plus age group (20 per cent)

Attitudes to retirement

Respondents to the survey believe they will retire at 62 and pensions, savings and income were the most popular funding options for retirement.

Women were slightly less optimistic than men when it came to retirement age saying they felt they would retire at 63 rather than the average of 61 cited by men.

25 to 34 year olds felt they would retire the earliest at 60 with those aged 18 to 25 and 35 to 44 quoting the highest average age of 64. Over 55’s thought they would retire at 62 while 45-54 year olds said they would retire at 63.

Using a financial professional

Only 11 per cent said they had used a financial professional to help them achieve their version of success at retirement but four out of ten said it was something they would consider.

Men were more likely to have used a financial professional to plan their retirement than women (13 per cent against 9 per cent).

And more people in the 18-o 24 age-group had already consulted a financial professional (10 per cent) than those in the 25 to 34 age-group (7 per cent) or the 35 to 44 age group (5 per cent). This could be attributed to the introduction of compulsory workplace pensions where new employees are offered financial advice as part of their induction programme.

Unsurprisingly over 55’s were the most likely to have already sought financial advice to help plan their retirement (15 per cent).


About Mazars

Mazars is an international, integrated and independent organisation, specialising in audit, accountancy, tax, legal and advisory services. As of 1 January 2016, Mazars operates throughout the 77 countries that make up its integrated partnership. We draw on the expertise of 17,000 professionals to assist major international groups, SMEs, private investors and public bodies at every stage of their development. In the UK, Mazars has over 140 partners and over 1,800 employees serving clients from 19 offices, and is ranked one of the top 10 firms nationally.

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