CONVERSATION WITH MY BILLIONAIRE FRIEND
WEALTH CAPSULE 9
Illiteracy, both in words and numbers, is the foundation of financial struggle. If people are having difficulties financially, there is something they cannot read, either in numbers or in words. Something is misunderstood. The rich are rich because they are more literate in different areas than people who struggle financially. So if you want to be rich and maintain your wealth, it’s is important to be financially literate, in words as well as in numbers – Robert Kiyosaki
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children – Hosea 4:6
Like all learning, financial education is a process that should begin at an early age and continue throughout life. This cumulative process builds the skills necessary for making critical financial decisions that affect one’s ability to attain the assets, such as education, property, and savings, that improve economic well-being – Alan Greenspan
During a telephone conversation with my Billionaire Friend, we agreed on the need to meet to review how far we have gone with the conversation series, especially as he had said that the articles that had been published so far dealt only with the foundation for building wealth. He said we needed to move to the next phase of the seven pillars for building enduring wealth. We agreed on the time, and at the appointed time, I was in his house. We met in a little open shed with another individual already seated. My Friend was in short knickers with a bowler’s hat, and I could sense he was generally happy. He later introduced the young man as one of his protégés who had done extremely well for himself and had just visited on a courtesy call. In a few minutes, the guy was gone, and we started our review talk in earnest. We reviewed the reactions from readers, and we agreed that the series was making a necessary impact.
On the overview, he said what he was sharing with me would cover what he described as the Seven Pillars of Wealth. This, according to him, would enable us to move methodically and in sequence. Here are the seven pillars as explained by my Billionaire Friend.
PILLAR # 1: UNDERSTANDING THE ESSENCE OF WEALTH BUILDING
Here we deal with explaining why it is important to understand the essence of wealth-building endeavours. As it has been explained in some of the articles published so far, the reason God would give an individual the power to be wealthy is for him to be God’s treasurer and trustee, intelligently distributing the wealth he has accumulated to worthy causes. If a wealth builder fails to understand this essence, his wealth-building endeavours would have no meaning. So, understanding the real purpose for building wealth is critical for those who want to be part of the series we have started.
PILLAR 2: IDENTIFYING AND ELIMINATING LIMITING BELIEFS AND MINDSETS THAT COULD HINDER WEALTH-BUILDING ENDEAVOURS
This involves identifying and dealing with some limiting beliefs and mindsets that need to be identified and eliminated before real wealth-building can start. We have treated this under some of the articles we have published so far.
PILLAR 3: CREATING WEALTH/MAKING MONEY
Under this, we shall be focusing on the pathways to creating wealth which could take different approaches/routes: creating wealth by working for others, investing, and partnering with employers. The message here is that there is no single route to building wealth. You can build wealth as an employee, as a self-employed person, as a business owner with wealth-creating systems firmly in place, or as an investor who can operate from any prism once he understands the dynamics of what it takes to be an investor.
PILLAR 4: MANAGING WEALTH/MONEY
Under this, we shall be dealing with all aspects of wealth-building that focus on the intelligent deployment of the wealth we have already created with the understanding that if this is done properly, more wealth can be created.
PILLAR 5: MULTIPLYING WEALTH/MONEY
Under this, we shall be looking at how to increase the velocity of wealth creation by creating assignments and messages for wealth that enable it to produce income that is beyond direct personal efforts. Here we shall be discussing how to send your money on profitable assignments with the ultimate aim of getting it to produce passive incomes. We shall be dealing with strategies for making this happen.
PILLAR 6: MAKING WEALTH/MONEY TO LAST
Under this, we shall be looking at all aspects of wealth creation that make it self-perpetuating. Real wealth is created when it is perpetuated beyond the generation that created the wealth, up to the fourth generation or even more.
PILLAR 7: MAKING WEALTH/MONEY TO COUNT
Here we shall be dealing with understanding the real reason for God allowing us the power to build wealth. We are blessed essentially to be a blessing. When we are sufficiently detached from the outcome of the wealth we are creating, we have succeeded in partnering with the Higher Power to ensure the proper distribution of wealth. Under this, we shall be dealing with personal and corporate philanthropies and the strategies for creating impactful ones.
We both agreed that we had covered sufficient topics under both pillars 1 and 2, and we needed to move to the next pillar: creating wealth. By the time we finished the overview, it was already getting late, so my Billionaire Friend suggested I should send my proposed topic to him on WhatsApp with the signpost questions as usual, and he would make a voice note on the subject of the week. Without wasting time, once I got home, I sent this suggested topic:
“HE WHO DESIRES TO BUILD LASTING WEALTH MUST FIRST SEEK TO ACQUIRE FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE”.
I also included 10 signpost questions to guide his treatment of the subject.
A few minutes after, he replied thus:
Ayo: Please can I shorten our week’s topic to:
SUCCESSFUL WEALTH BUILDING REQUIRES PRECEDENT ACQUISITION OF BASIC FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE.
We agreed it was good to go, and he promised to send his voice note on the subject to me the following day. And he did. But what followed after the voice notes were transcribed took our conversation to a very sensitive area. From my experience as a financial journalist, I have observed that many people tune off completely when you are sharing anything technical; they would want you to break things down or come to their level, as some would put it. So I sent this note to my Billionaire Friend, along with the draft of the transcribed voice notes:
“Greetings, sir. Please find above the transcription of your voice notes. To carry the readers along, I suggest you use examples and, where possible, definitions and/or explanations of some of the technical expressions used.
“It may also be a good idea to take one or two per session and expand the ones in focus with practical examples to illustrate. We can also use stories. My observation over the years is that a lot of people are scared of financial information. My thoughts, sir. Otherwise, a very powerful educational series.”
In less than 10 minutes, my Billionaire Friend fired back with this:
“Ayo: This chosen topic is very technical ooo. I have used as simple a language as possible. I will try to satisfy you as much as possible. Sulphuric acid is H2SO4, and Hydrochloric acid is HCL, Potassium Sulphate is PSO4. Do you have a way to make these chemical equations as simple as you desire?”
We spoke extensively over the phone, discussing this particular subject. I just sat down where I was to ponder on the essence of what he was saying. He argued that wealth-building has its register, and those who desire to play there must acquire the language of the trade just as you cannot fly a plane if you do not go to the aviation school to learn the craft.
Eventually, I sent this note back to him:
“Don’t worry, sir. Just do your best. That is why this is a partnership project. I will employ my journalism skills to put sweets around the whole concept. God will help us. Hydrochloric acid remains HCL!.”
Interestingly after sending that note to him, I could not but continue to ponder on the validity of the point he was trying to pass across. As I sat there still pondering, in a flash, I just recollected how I started a career in journalism and the training process that I had to undergo.
I obtained my first degree in Political Science, and later my master’s in the same discipline. My aspiration was to obtain a PhD so that I could end up as a graduate assistant. But while in my final year at the University of Ife, preparing for my last semester exams, a mysterious event happened that made it impossible for me to graduate. I was the best part-four student in the department, but for that mysterious event, I had to repeat the final class: I could not graduate with my classmates (I have shared this in my book, THE MILLIONAIRES’ CAPSULES). To put it mildly, I was devastated.
While I was alone on campus, I had to meditate and pray to God, for I did not know what to do. Before that experience, I had developed a consuming passion for Newswatch Magazine, especially their in-depth style of writing reports. While I was on campus waiting to do my reseat exam, I decided to write a few articles which were published by The Sketch and National Concord newspapers. I was very excited. I wrote in my diary that I would like to be a journalist.
Eventually, for my National Youth Service (NYSC), I was posted to serve at a secondary school in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. While at the school, I set up a press club, and one of the activities was reading the news at the assembly every Wednesday morning. It was so popular that people around the school would sometimes be gathered to listen to the news. An idea occurred to me to launch the press club. I did, and I was able to draw to the place journalists I had always admired. Yanju Adegbite of Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) and Soji Akinrinade of Newswatch were both there. In a way I could not explain, I found myself dropping my academic ambition and switching to starting a career as a journalist. Eventually, I was given a job at National Concord as a proofreader. I chose that to enable me to acquire the necessary training in journalism . It was while at National Concord that I enrolled at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos State for a postgraduate diploma in Journalism, where I got the Director’s Prize for the Overall All-round Best Student at the end of the programme.
By divine intervention, when I moved to African Concord Magazine, the then editor, Mr Bayo Onanuga (now Managing Director and Editor-in-chief of The News), persuaded me to join the business desk. I protested, suggesting he should post me to their political desk. He made me understand that the only place he could place me was the business desk, especially since the guy covering the business desk was on leave. I had to accept his offer but with a lot of trepidation. I was truly scared. To compound the matter, the first assignment he gave me was to cover the stock market at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. When I got to the floor of the exchange the following day, I was completely lost as the stockbrokers were shouting at the top of their voices, “offering and bidding”, a language that was completely strange to me.
It was a Monday, and I needed to file my report on Wednesday. I figured a disaster was lurking since I did not understand what took place on the exchange, talkless of filling a story. Eventually, I devised an agenda. I walked up to a stockbroker by the name of Dele Lateef. He was working with Marriot Securities at that time. I explained my dilemma to him, and good enough, he responded positively, and he asked me to follow him to his office, where he explained everything in the daily official list to me. We became friends, and I became a regular visitor to his office. Eventually, I filled in a story. Even though it was not used, my editor saw potential in me and asked me to repeat my visits to the exchange. I decided to give it all it would take. My first story was eventually published after about four months of amateur reporting. At that point, there was no going back. I started to buy and read financial newspapers. I also subscribed to a journal called Arbitrage Stock Guide, published by Dr Olasenni Akintola Bello, a former commissioner for Finance in Ogun State.
One day while in the office, a lady with the United States information service, who had just been posted to Nigeria to find out how to enhance capacity for financial reporting in the country, invited me for a breakfast discussion. I guess she was impressed because not long after our meeting, she facilitated my trip to the United States of America on the International Visitors Programme, where I joined 12 other journalists from 12 other countries where we were taken around seven states on a tour of different media establishments in the US.
Three years later, I won a Reuters Award, which took me to their office in London, where, for three weeks, we were exposed to deep training on how to simplify financial reporting. On my return, I joined Financial Standard as the founding CEO. I needed to implement the skill I had just been exposed to. I deliberately recruited a few journalists who had no financial background. While Joseph Ode, an economist, was the editor, I got Simon Kolawole, publisher of the Cable, who was a graduate of Mass Communication, to be his deputy. Another reporter we recruited was Samuel Ibiyemi, now Publisher of News Direct, who was a recruit in the army with no journalism background. Before we started, we organised a one-week training on how to interpret financial information. Publishing financial stories in an easily digestible format was one of the features that made Financial Standard popular.
Recalling this story, it occurred to me that my Billionaire Friend was right. There was no way I could have gone far in financial reporting without those training programmes I went through.
I put a call through to my Billionaire Friend, and I shared my experience with him:
WHY SHOULD A PERSON ACQUIRE FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE?
“That’s what I was trying to put across. Those who desire to build wealth in the way we are presenting it must do what is required to acquire the language of the trade. As wealth builders, we are guided by the simple English adage that says: do not go near water unless you have learned to swim. In wealth building, we must be guided by basic knowledge of finance and seek to commence our wealth building process, with some good financial literacy, to develop the ability to understand and effectively use financial skills for wealth building.
“Knowledge of financial skills considerably helps to build and sustain wealth. This includes understanding the basic elements of budgeting, credit management, financial management, insurance, credit/interest management, the intricate issues of risk and return trade-offs with investments, understanding the time value of money and the analysis of return and opportunity costs. It involves a good understanding of how to handle cash better and be able to manoeuvre in between the currencies of different nations while engaged in the process of possible international transactions during wealth building. It also includes preparing and better positioning for wealth builders’ banking interactions and, as of prime importance, avoiding making poor financial judgements and decisions during the process of building and sustaining wealth by wealth builders”.
“Generally, good basic financial knowledge, therefore, is a very necessary prerequisite for successfully building and sustaining wealth. Interestingly, it does not require too much classroom schooling; but involves continuous commitment and dedication to acquiring needed financial knowledge as far as possible. There are examples of people, even in Nigeria, who have greatly built wealth and are successfully competing against major world brands. Examples of such people in Nigeria are Chief Samuel Adedoyin and the group chairman of BIGI mineral waters production at Ososa, near Ijebu Ode, who have successfully built solid wealth in this wise and are making Nigeria proud. These two exemplary wealth-builders have also managed banks as chairmen of Nigerian banks. Another that comes to mind with such little schooling background but great and successful wealth-builders is the late Chief Odutola, who built vast wealth-producing tyres and many other successful brands. They successfully used their acquired classroom schooling basic financial knowledge to build and effectively manage their vast wealth to make sound financial decisions. Acquiring financial knowledge generally helps wealth builders to spend less than they earn, make money work for them, and prepare them for some unexpected in future”.
My Billionaire Friend and I agreed that while we would try to simplify things, we must alert our readers that those who truly want to build wealth must be willing to invest in training on basic financial literacy.
How then should wealth builders acquire financial literacy? My Billionaire Friend offered a few suggestions:
HOW DO WEALTH BUILDERS ACQUIRE FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE?
“One is tempted at this stage to ask about how wealth builders acquire the basic financial knowledge that is being discussed here since not all wealth builders must necessarily have studied finance, investment, and economics in school. A medical doctor, fashion, designer, etc., who are without solid education in financial management, but who can still acquire the basic financial knowledge discussed here, as follows”:
ENROLL ON SHORT COURSES
“Many of us have read the CV of Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra state and current Nigerian presidential aspirant. His CV contains a long list of short-term courses that he has taken at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, etc., for systematically and continuously acquiring knowledge in short term courses for building his wealth and solid reputation. The same goes for many successful wealth-builders like Aig Imoukhuede, as earlier discussed in this series, for building his Access Bank group along with his partner, Herbert Wigwe. The same goes for Olusegun Osunkeye, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Tony Elumelu, Seun Adetu, etc., in the process of building their manageable wealth. They are all known to have enrolled in short-term courses at many institutions of repute to acquire knowledge and build wealth”.
GET A MENTOR OR EXPERT TO ADVISE YOU
“Another way wealth builders gain the financial knowledge already exposed here is to learn from experts, asking them critical questions, which develops them. Wealth builders should not be shy from identifying mentors who can assist them in acquiring basic financial knowledge to help them build and sustain wealth”.
READ FINANCIAL JOURNALS, SEMINARS, NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
“Another method for obtaining basic financial knowledge is generally via newspapers, journals, seminars and magazines. There are many seminars available for acquiring basic knowledge of financial and investment management. This can be sought out on Instagram, the internet etc., etc. Wealth builders must also get familiar with financial tools and apps that are available via information technology platforms. This is an all-time tool that wealth builders can acquire towards enhancing and sustaining their wealth”.
“In general, financial knowledge is very necessary for not only building but also sustaining wealth to improve the financial situations of their investments and contribute to the development and growth of their families, society, nation, and the world”.
We have to stop this week. Tighten your belt as we shall start a conversation around where aspiring wealth builders need to acquire financial literacy.
I can’t wait to catch up with you next week.
“In general, financial knowledge is very necessary for not only building but also sustaining the wealth built by wealth-builders with a view to improving the financial situations of their investments and contributing to the development and growth of their families, society, nation, and the world”.
We both agreed that while we would try to simplify things, we must alert our readers that those who truly want to build wealth must be willing to invest in training on basic financial literacy