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Hermione and her money

FOR most people, turning 18 means the chance to spend a meagre student loan in the pub (legally) and the chance to apply for a credit card – if the banks haven't clamped down on them completely. But while the rest of the country is worrying itself grey over the credit crunch, there's others with the very opposite problem.

Emma Watson, the actress who has played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films since she was 12, gained access to a cool 10.5 million worth of earnings after coming of age this week.

While the average teenager might dream of a second-hand car for their 18th birthday, Watson could now buy a fleet of Ferarris and have enough pocket change left over to indulge her burgeoning Chanel habit for a lifetime.

However, her parents are reported to be among a select, but growing, band of mothers and fathers taking steps to ensure that their wealthy teenagers don't blow their fortunes on sex, drugs and rock'n'roll by enrolling her in an intensive three-day financial education course run by the private bank Coutts.

Yes, it might be hard for most of us to imagine, but it really is possible for British teenagers to take a course on how to be a responsible millionaire. With the expected discretion, Coutts would not comment on the identity of any individuals attending the course, which is designed for clients' children between the ages of 17-23, but it is believed that Watson's 18-year-old co-star Daniel Radcliffe – who is believed to be worth around 17 million – will also be taking part.

The Assets and Responsibility course, which was launched last year, aims to ensure that clients' children understand the power and impact of wealth, as well as developing commercial and personal financial acumen.

A spokesperson for Coutts said: "It's an important course because these young people are at an age where they're beginning to handle their own wealth.

"We had around 22 speakers at the last course speaking on a range of subjects, from how to read the financial pages in a newspaper to deciphering the stock market."

Emma Watson is at what her parents might describe as "an impressionable age" and no doubt they have watched with concern the manner in which other young women such as Britney Spears and Linsay Lohan have dealt with such a huge sum of money, particularly in light of the celebrity parties Watson has been attending with, among others, rock star Johnny Borrell of Razorlight – a singer renowned for his partying lifestyle.

However, Watson, who has acknowledged that she need never work again if she wishes, has chosen not to quit school to become a full-time actress and may yet decide to attend university, saying: "People can't understand why I don't want to (quit school] but school life keeps me in touch with my friends. It keeps me in touch with reality."

Staying in touch with reality when the balance of your bank account has hit eight figures before you're out of your teens, though, might not be so easy.

Chartered psychologist Dr Dorothy Rowe, who specialises in financial issues, says: "One of the difficult things for a young actor is that, like a footballer, it's highly unlikely that this money will keep on coming for years and years, so she will have to deal with the fact that this could be pretty much it in terms of her earnings from acting."

"She may say that the money won't change her, but, much like in the case of a lottery winner, the people around you can force changes upon you. This could manifest itself as everything from greedy relatives to friends who lose touch for fear of appearing to be after her money."

There's no doubt that Watson is an intelligent teenager – she achieved eight A* and two A grades in her GCSEs and four A grades in her AS levels while filming – however, for some parents, the temptation for teenagers to splash out on their 18th birthday is enough of a concern for them to begin their child's financial education in advance.

Robert Reid, the managing director and founder of chartered financial planners Syndaxi, who offer courses in managing personal finances to young people in Edinburgh and London, says: "Since the trust laws have changed meaning that young people can access a trust fund at 18 rather than 25, our course has become much more popular with parents who are concerned that their child is going to turn 18 and buy ten Aston Martins.

"We would normally recommend that the best age to attend the course is actually about 15. 18 is just too late and too rushed. It's something that should be built up over time, and I don't know how much impact it will really have on an 18-year-old who's just got their hands on such a huge sum of cash."

For some wealthy parents, the associated risks of inheriting an enormous bank account have been simply too great. Microsoft's founder and chairman Bill Gates has repeatedly stated that his three children will not be inheriting his billions. And the late Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, chose to disinherit her daughters Sam and Justine, because she felt that such a large sum of money would have had a negative impact on their lives.

The curriculum for Assets and Responsibility covers a number of topics from spending, budgeting and investing to setting up a business and philanthropy. However, the benefits extend beyond basic education.

Such "financial boot camps" originated in the US where students have been known to go into business together, or even meet future spouses on a course.

Considering that so far around 60 privileged young people are said to be lined up for the Coutts course in the coming months, it's a serious networking opportunity.

For Watson, however, such an education is particularly important since unlike her fellow classmates she is dealing with the trappings of fame on top of her vast wealth.

Some would say that the story of a child star never ends well; others that as an adult who has spent her childhood working, she deserves to indulge in a spot of spending. After all, it's her money to do with what she pleases, although sensible Hermione would have probably stowed it all away in one of the hundreds of goblin-guarded vaults in Gringott's bank.

Using it or loosing it?

Lindsay Lohan

LOHAN started out as a model before moving into acting at the age of ten, and shot to fame playing identical twins in Disney's 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. Films including Freaky Friday and Mean Girls followed, but Lohan has had more difficulty finding roles in films aimed at adults. She is worth a reported $6 million (3m). However, it was recently reported that she is being advised to rein in her spending now that she isn't getting regular work. Renowned for her love of partying she is rum

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

TWENTY-one-year-old twins Mary-Kate and Ashley are the 11th-richest women in entertainment, with a combined fortune of $100 million (50m). They began acting at just nine months on the popular American television series Full House, where both sisters played the same character. However, their fortune began to grow at the end of their time on the television show when they began heavily merchandising their image. They set up their own company called DualStar in 1993 and have lent their name to clothes, books, fragrances and dolls. Since turning 18, the twins have remained relatively grounded, despite their wealth, although Mary-Kate attended rehab in 2004 for treatment for an eating disorder.

Charlotte Church

CLASSICAL singer Charlotte Church, who is still only 22, has sold more than ten million albums worldwide, most of which were made when she was a child. She became one of the richest teenagers in the UK when she tuned 18 and got her hands on 7 million (joking to reporters that she wanted a 1 million ruby-encrusted bra for her birthday), but later admitted that she regretted receiving the money at such a young age, saying that she couldn't stop spending it, including one incident when she "inadvinadvertently" spent 1,000 on two bottles of Champagne in a nightclub. However, she kept most of the money in a trust fund and today has a joint fortune of around 10 million with her boyfriend, Welsh international rugby star Gavin Henson.

Macaulay Culkin

PROBABLY the most famous modern child star, Culkin shot to fame in the 1990 film Home Alone. The film was hugely popular and he starred in a sequel, as well as a number of other Hollywood films including Richie Rich, making him a millionaire by the age of ten. However, he has publicly spoken about the negative effects his fortune has had on his life, and his relationship with his family in particular. His parents separated when he was just 14 and a bitter custody battle led to Culkin having his

Callie Rogers

MOST people dream of winning the lottery. But for Callie Rogers from Cumbria that dream became a reality at the tender age of 16 when she scooped the 1.9 million jackpot in 2003. She gave up her job in a supermarket and started splashing out, spending tens of thousands on gifts for family and friends. However, she soon became fed up of shopping all day, and by the age of 18 she had chosen to return to work as a secretary to alleviate the boredom.

 
 
 

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