Many factors at play in achieving success

The commentary on the relationship between IQ and personal wealth was intriguing, but offered a limited perspective on the concepts of intelligence and success ("If you're so intelligent, why aren't you rich?"; Dec 28, 2016).

First, it conceded that IQ may be a narrow measure of all-round ability. Abstract problem-solving skills and persistence are very distinct traits from communication ability, social awareness and so on.

Second, there seemed to be the assumption that earnings and financial success are necessarily correlated to personal skill.

While individual talent is certainly a major determinant in today's largely meritocratic society, it can be - and frequently is - overshadowed by other factors, particularly luck.

Successful businesses are born and survive not only through blood, toil, tears and sweat, but also through happenstance and coincidence. The corporate histories of many established firms illustrate just how much they owe to random strokes of good fortune.

Another prime illustration of luck at play is the birth lottery.

Individuals born into wealthy families are far more likely to be raised in a conducive environment, inherit the skills and capital to grow their fortune, as well as enjoy the connections and special relationships that come with an upper-class pedigree.

Those from less well-off backgrounds, regardless of their sterling academic achievements and personal qualities, can find themselves hamstrung by limited social mobility, and so end up earning less.

These are factors well beyond the control of mere individuals, that IQ scores do not account for, and which are hard to overcome using intelligence alone.

Third, it is also worth mentioning that "more intelligent" individuals may define "success" in ways other than financial.

Their greater willingness to pursue activities in which they find meaning, rather than focusing on report cards and the accrual of currency, may partially account for the skewed statistics on their earnings.

At the end of the day, it is immensely unhelpful to place so much stock on IQ scores and the like in trying to determine individual aptitude and potential, for human beings are so much more than the sum of their parts.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi