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Student Zone                                                                                                                    

Young Financial Journalist 2019/20                 

Show off your writing skills and financial know-how. Take part in our Young Financial Journalist competition, being run in partnership with the Financial Times.

In partnership with     FT

We have our winners!

We’re delighted to be able to announce the winners of our 2019/20 Young Financial Journalist of the Year competition, in partnership with the Financial Times. 

We’ll be publishing the winning articles in full over the next few weeks.

We had over 200 entries this year, from all around the UK. Some students also entered from around the world! Congratulations to all the students who submitted entries – you made it a tough competition for us to judge.

The London Institute of Banking & Finance and the Financial Times (FT) launched the 2019/20 Young Financial Competition in November 2019. We were seeking well-argued articles from students aged 14-19 for this joint competition. The competition closed for entries in January 2020. 

 Winning entries are being published on our website and some of the winners are being featured in the Financial Times.  The winner of each age group receives a £150 cash prize and a certificate. 

The Financial Times offers a free subscription to secondary schools who teach financial education. 

Free subcription to the Financial Times.

Here are the winners.

About our judges 

Claer Barrett is an award-winning journalist who has been the Editor of FT Money since 2015. She is also the Editor of @ftthrift and a Daily Guest on Eddie Mair's evening radio show (LBC Radio).

Bobby Seagull is a mathematician, teacher and writer. He appeared on the television program University Challenge in 2017, and in 2018 on Monkman & Seagull’s Genius Guide to Britain. His first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers, was published in 2019. He is a regular commentator on financial education and money matters.

Catherine Winter is Head of Financial Education at The London Institute of Banking & Finance. Following a career in communications, she was a teacher of economics for six years and is now responsible for our work with schools who are delivering our financial education qualifications at GCSE and A Level.


14-15 age group 

Winner: 14-year-old Will Lawson from St Olave’s School in Orpington. Will’s article looked at how technology could change the future of banking. Will Lawson

Claer Barrett says: 

“I thought this entry was a great piece of writing, and showed in depth knowledge of the banking sector, rather than facts being parroted. This writer actually did something with the information, and thought through the consequences, and prescient – the move towards digital currencies and crypto could be nearer than we think. Quite, as the current crisis has proved (cash is dead!)” 

Will says:  

“I entered the competition because my teacher told me about it, but the question looked really interesting. I’m interested in banking and the future of banking, so I started writing the essay in class and finished it that evening. I definitely would be interested in a career in finance. I like reading the FT – it’s really interesting.  

“Winning is awesome, I haven’t entered any competitions before but have written essays and articles. If you’re thinking of entering next year, go for it. It doesn’t take too long to research and write an article. And if your article is picked as a winner, it’s really worth it!” 

Read Will's article

Highly commended: 14-year-old Clark Higgins from Warwick School in Warwick.  Clark Higgins

Bobby Seagull says:  

“This article offers a compelling view about how automation will change the banking world and the (almost scary) way in which banks will know everything about us. I liked the concept of banks being an ‘automated friend’. The writer's personalised introduction about queuing with Granny or helping Dad with a forgotten password was a nice human touch. I would have encouraged them to finish that story arc by coming back to it at the end.” 

Clark says:  

“I was staying at my granny’s and I thought it was something worth doing – it looked interesting. (Plus my dad said that if I won, he’d double the prize money!)  

“I also liked the question – What will the bank of the future be like? I’m interested in artificial intelligence and do most of my banking online. I believe that we will eventually transition to mainly cyberbanking in the future. I had a good time doing it – the time flew by. I did lots of research, but the ideas were mine. 

“If you’re thinking of entering next year, I’d say give it a go and just try to be yourself. Portray yourself and your ideas.” 

Read Clark's article 

16-17 age group 

Winner: 17-year-old Adya Manoj from The Tiffin Girls’ School, Kingston-upon-Thames. Adya’s article looked at the financial issues facing young people today. Adya Manoj

Claer Barrett says:  

“Why it should win – really funny, clearly written, conveys a lot of information in a readable and entertaining way. Great quotes. And nice social conscience. Highly impressive.” 

Adya says:  

“I feel great about winning, it’s such an honour and it has inspired me to get more into the subject. I would now definitely think about a career in finance, or even journalism, and I would look to do something in this field at university. 

“The competition question was really interesting. I do economics at A Level and it’s very theoretical. So being able to do a more research-based article helps you to look at something in a way that’s really relevant to your own life.” 

Read Adya's article

Highly commended: 16-year-old Charlotte Fry from Tiffin School Sixth Form, Kingston-upon-Thames. Charlotte Fry 

Bobby Seagull says:  

“The article grabbed my attention right from the beginning and they return the story arc at the end with these same key words (hedge fund, stock market etc). ‘A hedge fund is the money that you save for neatening your garden. The stock market is where people go to deal oxo cubes. Gross interest is when the weird kid is into you. Liquidation is when you take ice out of the freezer. Stamp duty is speaking to your local philatelist.’ The writer makes a clear case for how financial literacy can lead to happier and more productive individuals in society.” 

Charlotte says:  

“I'd been looking at different competitions but struggled to find a question that interested me. The question I chose to answer – What are the main financial issues facing young people today? – was one that resonated with me and I felt I could grapple with. 

“I do economics at A Level, and there have been times when financial issues have been touched upon, but financial education seems to be lacking overall in schools. It needs to be directed towards everyone, not just those who are studying certain subjects – especially as widespread education is the most sustainable way to drive change. 

“If you're thinking of entering the competition next year, my advice would be to look at a question and go out and research it. Quite often it can feel quite daunting when a subject is so unfamiliar. But even with your first article you start to get that understanding. Don't be afraid of a topic, you'll soon find that your research will spark conversation and garner that interest." 

Read Charlotte's article

18-19 age group

Winner: 18-year-old Lindell Brown from East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston-on-Sea. Lindell’s article looked at whether data was becoming as valuable as gold. Lindell Brown

Claer Barrett says:  

“Quite a few of the entries tried to make some kind of play on the gold rush, but this entry did it with the most aplomb. I really liked the writer's style. I also liked the refreshing honesty about their own laxity with data – ‘it wouldn't take more than five minutes to find my origins, phone number and favourite food’ – and the high numbers of social media ‘friends’ compared to the relatively small number of people who got in touch to say happy 18th birthday." 

Lindell says:  

“I’ve always had an interest in journalism. I also trade in my spare time and do technical analysis, and then produce reports. So I wanted to enter the competition to see if I was good enough and to see if a career in journalism was a possibility. 

“I was elated to win, and very surprised. I sent my entry one day before the deadline! Winning a competition like this is something you can put on your CV and on job applications. You never know where it may lead.” 

He’s also a fan of financial education. 

“I didn’t get access to financial education until I went to college. The curriculum is completely lacking on things like tax, how mortgages and other financial products work, and it is essential knowledge in my view.”  

We agree Lindell!  

Read Lindell's article

Highly commended: 19-year-old Marelize Abercrombie from University of Bristol.  Marelize Abercrombie 

Bobby Seagull says:  

“Well referenced article that highlights to the reader that ‘data is worthless when isolated without context’ but can become a gigantic financial force when millions of users’ data is cumulated together.” 

Marelize says:  

“I entered the competition after hearing about it on an FT podcast. The question on personal data really excited me. That's the area of law I want to get into. Once you start learning about the issues you realise that what seem to be quite simple things – use of your personal data by companies for example – are becoming a really big issue. This could cost companies a lot of money if they get things wrong. 

“If you're thinking of entering the competition next year, I'd say just go for it. It's not hard to write an article if you enjoy the topics. And what might seem scary at first will become much more straightforward once you start researching it.”  

Read Marelize's article.