How big is a billion?

We’ve become accustom to millions, but increasingly headlines such as RSK Group’s latest funding package are in billions. But just how much bigger is a billion than a million? It’s difficult to comprehend. So, we need an analogy – a scale to which we can relate.

One million seconds ago I was still 47 years old and doing more or less what I’m doing right now, probably preparing for my next Teams call. By contrast, a billion seconds ago I was a 16-year-old schoolchild saving my penny-a-paper pay for the latest NOW That’s What I Call Music! cassette.

A million seconds is 11.6 days, whereas a billion seconds is 31.7 years.

Our business unit helps customers to bring clarity and creativity to complex concepts, so we like a good analogy.

The reason this topic came to mind was that last month our parent company secured a £1-billion funding package, the largest private financing deal linked to sustainability performance. It’s a great opportunity for us, and if we hit our sustainability targets we pay less interest.

Our personal finances deal with tens and hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands for a large purchase and occasionally hundreds of thousands as a mortgage loan. Business finances are another level. The strings of zeros frighten me a little. My boss says the way to handle it is to knock off a few zeros in your head.