Bad advice alert! What not to say to a 16-year-old about money

by Oyesola Oyebanji

Sola’s question was published in Tribune newspaper on Tuesday, 5th October 2010 in Mr. Lanre Oyetade’s financial column.’

16 year old wins N70, 000

Dear Lanre,

I am a young guy of 16. I just won N70, 000 in a promo. Please I need your advice on how to use this money wisely on business. Thanks.

Sola

Dear Sola,

At age 16, I wonder why you are in a hurry to do business. What experience or tutelage do you have in business? Why not put the money in a savings account and give the passbook to a trusted person like your parents or better still have them buy shares for you for the long-term to be used for something meaningful in your latter years? Please think about this.

Regards, Lanre

Mr Lanre Oyetade,  I found your response to this young and highly responsible 16-year-old extremely disappointing and disheartening. This is further fueled by the fact that we bear the same name – Sola.

I emphasize the word ‘responsible’ considering the fact that this 16-year-old obviously isn’t thinking like other youths within his age bracket.

I have carefully stated a couple of facts that I want you to seriously consider.

  • He chose to write you for advice because he must have been reading your column on a regular basis. I’m certain that he’s extremely disappointed with your response, just as I am. How many people of his age read newspapers, let alone seek to gain financial education or advice? They are mostly consumed with the music, Facebook, parties, gadgets, games and of course, sex.

A classical example of a more common question is stated below:

I am an 18 year old girl…. My boyfriend wants me to have sex with him.. Should I say yes?”


  • He chose you for a financial advice, not his parents, siblings or even his trusted friends, but you let him down, in my opinion.  Is a 16 year old too young to invest or even to start a business? For your perusal kindly visit http://www.drfarrahgray.com/biography.html. This young manbecame a millionaire at the age of 14, implying that his business was in operation well before he was 14.

Casually dismissing the truth that Farrah Gray’s success is based on the fact that he lives in the US would be wrong. It’s important to note that principles can never be overused, neither do they expire. They work wherever and by whoever applies them, irrespective of age and gender.

A more renowned example is Alexander Amosu, a highly successful Nigerian who started his business at the age of 12. For your perusal kindly visit http://www.alexanderamosu.com/profile.asp

  • It’s extremely important for you to know that this 16-year-old is an example of some of the young potentials we need for our great nation. We desperately need young men and women like this to guarantee our national success for the next 50 years; young men and women who will transform our nation in business, sports, the arts, I.T or any other sector  in which they aspire to succeed.
  • Unless this young man is emotionally strong, your rejection and extremely harsh response might remain with him for a very long time, if not for life! You may have dashed his hopes. Amazingly, an opportunity arose for you to become the mentor to Nigeria’s next young millionaire, but you failed – even though it’s not too late to make amends.
  • You paint such an unbelievable picture that being young is a disadvantage! “At 16, I wonder why you are in hurry to do business! What experience or tutelage do you have in business?

Sir, remember this: ideas, not age (thankfully) rule the world! A million dollar idea in the mind of a 16-year-old is the same as a million dollar idea in the mind of a 40-year-old!

  • From yet another perspective, I strongly fear a deep sense of contradiction, based on the fact that you teach financial intelligence. Your response clearly speaks volumes – In my opinion you are simply saying to this young man “follow the conventional approach; go to school and study” (which is not bad) but which might lead him to become yet another unemployed or underemployed graduate, maybe even an armed robber or a militant.
  • I would have thought that your response would have been for him to invest in a high yield investment account or fund; taking advantage of the compound interest. So many banks now have educational investment accounts with better interest rates compared with a mere savings account you advised. These are a million times better than the shares option you also proposed. Assuming my dear 16-year-old strategically invests his N70, 000 winnings in a high yield investment for 8 years, with an annual interest rate of 15%, he would yield N214, 129. With this capital base, I strongly believe that he would be able to source for extra funds from friends, family, or even me to start a business. Another option is an investment in a Masters program.
  • You have clearly sent a wrong message to youths – they are too young to request for a financial advice and possibly mentoring, which is desperately required from the older generation.
  • Finally, when do we advise our 16-year-old to start and fail in business? When he is 30? Or is it when losing a million can wreck his life? I strongly believe that it makes much more sense if he tries and failes now, and learns early the principles of running a successful business.

I strongly advice that you conduct more research before you write your replies. More importantly, kindly think through the questions, your potential response, and its implications before you reply. As a matter of truth, you don’t necessarily have to give an immediate response or even bother to responsd if you don’t have sound advise. That’s far safer than giving the wrong advice.

Please sir,  kindly rethink your response to this young man – for his sake and for that of other young people like him.

Thank you,

Oyesola Oyebanji

My Profile

  • 2003 at age 19 – I setup a Youth and National development organization hosting three successful conferences in three Nigerian universities with a combined attendance of over 4,500 undergraduates.
  • 2006 at age 22 – I attended The African Business Leaders Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • 2007 at age 23 – I was awarded a 2.4 million naira scholarship by MTN South Africa as a pioneering delegate on NEPAD African Leadership Program which took place at Wits Business School, Johannesburg , South Africa. Attached with the program was an international study tour to The World Bank, UN, GE in US, African Development in Tunisia and OECD in France.
  • 2009 at age 24– I completed a Masters Program at the London School of Marketing.
  • 2010 at age 26 – I am a Major distributor of an imported FMCG.

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