From an article about rich young doctors at the mag Medical Economics
"To have $1.5 million in a retirement plan by 65, a 35-year-old physician would have to consistently fund $42,000 each year," says Sherman L. Doll, a CPA and financial adviser from Walnut Creek, CA.Either that or Mr. Doll expects really bad returns from the market over the next 30 years. Think about it, if you contributed $42K/year for 30 years, your principal (and it is principal, not principle) would equal 1.26 million. According to my Excel based calculations (I don't have a calculator with logarithmic functions around) you'd need a whopping annual return of a bit under 1.2% to make it to 1.5 million. That is well under the real return of inflation-indexed treasury bonds.
It doesn't even matter if the market goes to hell in the first few years since you have plenty of time to earn it back. Even if the market went to zero at year 5 (that is you lost all you'd invested up till then) a modest 3% yearly return would get you to 1.5M. Hopefully, Mr. Doll was misquoted, otherwise I don't think I'd want him as my CPA.