Kicking off the Young Money Book Club with a competition

To help Young Money readers brush up on their financial know-how, I’m bringing you an infrequent column on suggested reading material on all things financial…to kick off the Young Money Book Club, here are the details for a competition for the under 35s with big ideas to share

Iona bain

Not everybody has got the relentless drive to become a world famous investment guru like Warren Buffett but I’m a firm believer in self improvement when it comes to finances. Anybody can get wise to the importance of money management.

I gave a speech at the national final of the Money for Life challenge in the O2 Indigo a couple of months ago. It was the culmination of a novel initiative that challenged all kinds of young people, regardless of their background or skills, to devise innovative schemes within their communities that fostered financial savviness. The results were beyond heartening. Many, if not all of the entrants, overcame one form of adversity or another to plough all their energies into these schemes, which ranged from budget cookery clubs to anti payday loan groups. Those I saw during the judging process at the English grand final came from modest backgrounds where financial acumen was not necessarily held up as an essential life skill worth having and promoting.


The entrants tangibly demonstrated how much their efforts had made a difference in their local area and in their own lives. Moreover, their impact was not restricted to higher levels of financial literacy. They had multiple benefits that I hadn’t even considered as part and parcel of better financial management – some schemes espoused the health benefits and economies of giving up smoking while others encouraged recycling, higher community involvement and greater care for the environment.

In my speech, I said the following: “None of us are born with an innate sense of money management . People may think they are “useless” with money but it isn’t a personality trait. Okay, some people have a mathematical brain or have always had good willpower. Others may be better organised or more cautious than others. Good for them. All these characteristics do help, but I’m personally not lucky enough to have been born with all of them…and it doesn’t mean those of us may struggle with these things should give up and go home.”

One way that young minds can sharpen up their financial acumen is to read books on the subject. Yet there appears to be a dearth of economic and financial tomes written by young people, for young people.

A competition launched by the FT recently could help to change that. If you have a big idea that could help us all change the way we view the economy or financial sector, read on:

The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company, organisers of the Business Book of the Year Award, want to encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes. They hope to unearth new talent and encourage writers to research ideas that could fill future business books of the year. A prize of £15,000 will be given for the best book proposal.

The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken who was chairman of the FT from 1945 to 1958 and Marvin Bower, managing director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who were instrumental in laying the foundations for the present day success of the two institutions. This prize honours their legacy but also opens a new chapter by encouraging young writers and researchers to identify and analyse the business trends of the future.

The inaugural prize will be awarded to the best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth. The main theme of the proposed work should be forward-looking. In the spirit of the Business Book of the Year, the proposed book should aim to provide a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management. The judges will favour authors who write with knowledge, creativity, originality and style and whose proposed books promise to break new ground, or examine pressing business challenges in original ways.

Only writers who are under 35 on November 11 2014 (the day the prize will be awarded) are eligible. They can be a published author, but the proposal itself must be original and must not have been previously submitted to a publisher.

The judging panel for 2014 comprises:

Vindi Banga, partner, Clayton Dubilier & Rice

Lynda Gratton, professor, London Business School

Jorma Ollila, chairman, Royal Dutch Shell and Outokumpu

Dame Gail Rebuck, chair, Penguin Random House, UK

The proposal should be no longer than 5,000 words – an essay or an article that conveys the argument, scope and style of the proposed book – and must include a description of how the finished work would be structured, for example, a list of chapter headings and a short bullet-point description of each chapter. In addition entrants should submit a biography, emphasising why they are qualified to write a book on this topic. The best proposals will be published on

The organisers cannot guarantee publication of any book by the winners or runners-up. The finalists will be invited to the November 11 dinner where the Bracken Bower Prize will be awarded alongside the Business Book of the Year Award, in front of an audience of publishers, agents, authors and business figures. Once the finalists’ entries appear on, authors will be free to solicit or accept offers from publishers. The closing date for entries is 5pm (BST) on September 30th 2014.

Full rules for The Bracken Bower prize are available at

If you prefer to read rather than write, keep checking for my picks on interesting, intriguing and downright brilliant financial


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