Mr. Michael Akinwale is the General Manager, Rally Trade Nigeria, an international online broker established in 2015. In this interview with Peter Uzoho, he provides insight into the firm’s new partner programme and rebranded website. He also harps on the need for more education and access to trade to make the Nigerian capital market globally-competitive.
When did you start your operation here in Nigeria?
Rally Trade started in Nigeria early in 2015. So, this is our fourth year of operation in Nigeria. Then, we started from a small branch downstairs in the same building and we have grown to a bigger level here. We had about four staff when we started but today we have about 60 staff.
How has business been like?
It looks good and also very challenging. You know, as a small company just starting, you don’t have enough resources to do marketing, advertising, and the Nigerian market is also not an easy market. But the last four years has been great, with what I have said, we have been growing, we have been using the same website for the past four years, now we are launching a new website which is more user-friendly and more mobile-friendly. Like you know, Nigeria is the biggest internet presentation in Africa, but over 50 or 60 per cent of that internet presentation is on mobile. So, everybody creating business online must also measure the website or whatever you are doing to ensure it is user-friendly. There is what we call Leverage in trading; every broker gives its client leverage, it is like you are giving people the capacity to do more with little money. For instance, people with $100 which is like N30, 000, they can create as much as a thousand dollars with that money. That is what is called leverage. Initially we used to offer 1: 200, now we are making it bigger extending it to 1: 500, so it is giving people the capacity to do more. There is what we call Partner Programme, we know that one of the hardest things in business is to get clients, so what the brokers do like we do, is for instance, if you refer your friend to trade on our platform, while your friend is trading, you also make something because you invited him. Initially it used to be at one level; if I refer one person and that person refers another person I don’t make anything, but now we are making it deeper, so if I refer you to one person and you refer somebody else, I will be making money from the two of you, that way, it is deeper and then it is more residual, which means I can begin to do less and even make more because I am now making more money without my own effort. So that is one of the things we have been able to add to our clients for the past four years which is what we will be launching today.
It looks like a multi-level kind of marketing?
No, it is multi- tier.
How has your clientele here in Nigeria been like?
Well, you see this business of trading is new to a lot of Nigerians. For instance, I have a background in mechanical engineering, when I couldn’t get a job around mechanical engineering, I learnt this online trading business and from learning, I developed myself and traveled abroad for training, I have gone to London School of Business and Finance, which is an academy of trading and finance to learn trading. So education is critical, and because of that knowledge that we know if you don’t know trading very well you can lose your money, we also started what we call Rally Academy which is our training arm, where we educate Nigerians on how to trade in the financial market. So because of the education that we focus on, we have been able to build a lot of Nigerians that are now do very well in the business of trading.
How will you describe the business environment today?
Well, basically, if you check the Nigerian business environment right now, the level of unemployment is on the rise, we have a lot of youths now that are doing nothing, there are no jobs. That is where we come in. One thing again we have been able do in Rally Academy is that beyond teaching them trading, we also teach them about other line of businesses, we teach them e-commerce, we teach them how to design the website or a blog and start making money from it; and teach what we call affiliate marketing. There are lots of businesses online beyond trading that we teach clients in Rally Academy. So that way, we are able to reduce a lot of problems in Nigeria because right now, whether we like it or not; while there is no job in the normal sector, the internet sector is always the biggest sector in the world. That is why the biggest companies in the world are internet companies. So if Nigeria wants to move to the next level, Nigerian has to also begin to look online because that is where the future is. So most of the jobs in the future are online, so Rally Academy understands that, so we keep educating a lot of Nigerians and our training is free.
Looking at the opportunities in online trading in capital market, which one has more opportunities?
The capital market in Nigeria is an evolving market, that is, it is still in the process. All the other global markets that we trade, there was a time they were at the level of the Nigerian market; and so at that time they were not even global. But right now, the Nigerian market is evolving and so most of the time we have companies who have a lot of money. For instance, you can’t go to the Nigerian stock market and be trading $100, $50 and N10, 000 or N20, 000. But in the global financial market that we are talking about, those markets have evolved to the point that if you like you can even be trading N10, 000 or N20, 000, because they are in the matured stage and the beauty is that even with our GSM phones we can connect to any of these markets. You can connect to New York, connect to London and begin to trade. But right now you can’t connect to the Nigerian stock market that way yet. These are some of the challenges we are facing but I know that the Nigeria market is growing and we are going to get there. For instance, we have New York exchange, London exchange, German exchange, France exchange, all those big economies. And then we have the South Africa exchange, Nigeria exchange, Ghana exchange and as those economies are getting bigger, the exchange can be added to the global financial market.
What do we really need to do to make the Nigerian capital market gets to that level?
The way the Nigeria market runs has a different system, for instance to trade in the financial market you need to be as stock broker, you need to get stock broking license. So these are the limitations people sometimes face when trying to trade. But I also feel one of the ways Nigeria can grow the market is by investing in education, because in the Nigeria stock market right now, everything is just for those stock brokers, people at a certain level. Hopefully, very soon, Rally Academy will be big enough to be able to spend money on that area because we are still evolving as a company.
Looking at how the market fared last year and this year, what do you have to say about it?’
There is now more stability, this year is far better than last year.
Do you see more people entering the business?
Absolutely, more people are entering the business because the rate of employment is not getting better; so people are looking for opportunities where they can make their lives good.
Since you are calling for more access and entry into the business, how do you make sure that those who join are genuine; that is, ensuring that people’s investments are safe and secure in their hand?
People don’t just join and start making money or start trading, they get educated first. It is in education that you learn all the pros and cons. For instance, in Lagos when okada (commercial motorcyclists) was banned, the rate of accident reduced, because a lot of okada drivers do not really go for training and anywhere you see people doing things without education, there will be chaos. If there is anything that makes an average country more developed, looks better and more organised than other countries, it is because people in that country are more educated. When people are more educated you can control them better, they are more reasonable, they are more patient. Where educated people are, problem is more manageable. What I am saying is that we don’t start by saying come and make money, we start by saying come and get educated first. Even after education if you don’t understand the business you don’t have to do it. After they get educated they will practice on the demo, there is what we call Demo Training. If you can’t succeed on the field, they won’t take you to the road. All these things are put in place to make sure that a lot of people do well.
You are launching a new package today, so after the launch what next?
After the launch, our clients begin to use it and we hope it will create more opportunities for them and for us because that is what we are here for. With the Multi-Tier platform now, people are able to make integral income. It is the money that you make without working. When you are sleeping and somebody else is working, you can get value from that. With the extra leverage we are adding to our MT4 now people can make more money. All those things are designed to make sure that apart from being competitive, we are equally creating better opportunities for our clients.
How are you making sure that you stand out among your competitors?
Categorically, there is no company that offers the kind of education that we offer in Nigeria. When it comes to online trading in Nigeria, Rally Trade’s greatest trend is education. Every week we have seminars, conferences and there is nobody that offers the kind of conference that we do. If you check Facebook, you will see that this Thursday, we had a conference here and it was fully-packed, we had about 300 people there and you need to see the kind of feedback we are having. For me our greatest trend is education; to educate people properly.
Where do you see the Nigeria capital market in the next five years?
For me what grows the market is human based, it is not government. If the capital market is able to create more openness, educate more people, the market will grow. There are lots of opportunities in Nigeria because Nigerians are ready to go out to actually move themselves to the next level. There is no economy that can grow if people are not ready to take risk. That is why we are the largest economy in Africa because we take action. It is painful that betting is the biggest market in Nigeria, if you check the ranking betting is the number most recent website in Nigeria because they created access to their business. We need to create more access to the market so more people can come in and begin to make money for themselves.
Where do you see Rally Trade in the next five years?
By God’s grace, before we celebrate our 10 years anniversary, we should be able to have a building to ourselves, Rally house, that is one of our dreams.