Money talks, but often we adults don’t talk enough about it to children. Max Your Money sets out to do just that and help children unlock their entrepreneurial flair – and the timing is spot on

Talking to young people about money is tricky. Schools usually shoehorn personal finance within PHSE. For parents, it’s even harder – we want our children to understand its value, its pitfalls and the importance of securing their own future financial stability without alarming them. Despite best intentions, often we approach the subject with our own baggage (guilt, cynicism and anxiety included). What makes it more complex today is that all bets are off on old certainties – safe career trajectory, job for life, cast-iron pension.

But money has leaped from business to front page news this year – so a good time for a financial heart to heart. A new book, Max Your Money makes a great starting point for honest conversations. The book takes an international perspective and is aimed squarely at ‘tweenies’ and teens, pitching content at a level young people relate to. Its authors are old hands in the world of high finance. Larry (Laurence) Hayes runs an investment fund when he’s not writing books for children (including How to Survive Without Grown-Ups), while Rachel Provest is a family office and private equity director based in Singapore, and with a special interest and expertise within education.

Here’s some good news the book reveals. During their research, Hayes and Provest discovered a rich vein of optimism and entrepreneurial flair bubbling up among the young. “Larry and I were just amazed by the number of case studies we came across of children in the target age group, from 11 upwards, who had started their own business and were running it brilliantly,” says Provest. “Having really taken the time to do the groundwork on this area, we’re convinced – and quite blown away – by the power of children to build their own businesses without that adult cynicism.”

Provest puts some of it down to the ease with which an internet connection enables young people to carry forward brilliant ideas, learning and researching as they go. “YouTube is the great educator these days.”  She also believes young people see the business opportunities adults can’t spot. “Adults are almost in their shadow trying to keep up with the way they are thinking.” And thanks to crowdfunding and other new avenues of funding, the traditional barriers are down. “Historically, you had to have money behind you otherwise it was impossible to catch up – you never had that advantage – so very few children could get beyond that and be successful off their own back. Whereas now, there’s really nothing stopping children as long as they have a good idea. With that, it’s more important than ever to make sure that they do have this basic understanding – how do you understand a profit and loss account, what’s the bottom line, how do you budget?” says Provest.

“We were just amazed by the number of case studies we came across of children who had started their own business and were running it brilliantly”

This is where the book does a brilliant job. Divided into Earn it, Grow it, Use it, it offers the kind of useful information every young person needs. For instance, it has a comparison of certain jobs and what they pay. (Who knew a Lego Master Builder can make £19 an hour and an English League 2 footballer makes £25?) Fascinating facts indeed, but the book goes deeper, including explanations about why some salaries are much higher than others, which jobs may disappear in the future and how to boost your earnings.

There’s advice on how to work out what sort of job would suit you, and how to approach interviews. Also, how to negotiate a pay rise and know your own worth – a section many parents may also find useful. The book covers savings and investment, spending money wisely, effective charitable giving and – in the most exciting part – testing your own brilliant entrepreneurial ideas like a business pro to see if they could be winners and learning about other successful young entrepreneurs.

Money talk – smart lessons for young entrepreneurs
Provest and Hayes believe young people are natural entrepreneurs – and with digital savvy and bright ideas adults just can’t spot

The authors got their own children involved as critical readers to ensure the text was clear and engaging. “If they didn’t understand what we were talking about we’d go back and try and clarify it a bit more. So that helped us ensure we had a form of bulletproof book that was definitely child friendly,” says Provest. One thing that amazed them both during their research was young people’s openness to business ideas and their ‘can-do’ spirit of optimism. “It’s wonderful because with children there’s no cynicism there – no negativity. They naturally don’t think that way, they just go into things with best and honest intentions.”

Read the book’s case studies of young entrepreneurs and you will agree that there’s something wonderful going on. From the super earner Ryan (of YouTube channel Ryan’s World), who earned $29.5m in 2020 as an unboxer to the Argentinian ethical hacker Santiago Lopez who netted a more modest $1million plus, young entrepreneurs around the globe outline how they have spotted opportunities and gone for it. The Max your Money authors have a companion book on its way for young would-be millionaires and Provest is looking to use some of their research so far as the basis for a curriculum to help young people unlock their entrepreneurial talents.

One side benefit of Max Your Money is that Provest’s own daughter – one of the book’s critical readers – has taken its ideas to heart. Aged just 12, she is now running a startup that utilises her digital skills and creative spark. “She makes TikTok videos for companies,” says Provest. “It started with a friend who needed help. It has gone from one to seven people. She sets their videos up for them, which is fantastic. I’m looking forward to retiring quite soon!”

Max Your Money by Larry Hayes and Rachel Provest is published by Welbeck Children’s Books, price £14.99.

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