SOFT FINANCE WITH AYO AROWOLO
REFLECTIONS FROM WEALTH MASTERS
What does wealth mean to you? Is it just having a fat bank account? Or are there some other hidden components? As we wrap up the year, we just thought we should share the thoughts of some members of our League of Wealth Masters on what they think wealth really means. And some thoughts about money too, including making money, managing it, multiplying it and making it count. Please enjoy and do have a fun-filled Christmas.
PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS OGUNLESI
Professor Theophilus Ogunlesi, 99, the first Nigerian Professor of Medicine at the University of Ibadan (UI), is the father of Bayo Ogunlesi, one of the wealthy businessmen based in the United States of America.
He says, “A lot of people have a wrong interpretation of what wealth really means. So, they believe that being wealthy means having a lot of money in one’s bank account. That could be an aspect of wealth. But to me, real wealth means being fulfilled in the assignment God has committed into your hands and being able to put smiles on the faces of other people who are in need. I am not a businessman in the Nigerian sense of the word, but my lifelong business has been, and still is to take care of the sick, promote health and prevent sickness through health education, and help the poor and the needy as best as I can. That to me is success. That is real wealth.”
Dr Samuel Adedoyin is a topmost industrialist in Nigeria with business interests that cut across banking, real estate, import and export and hospitality, among others.
GOD OWNS THE SECRETS TO WEALTH.
This is one secret I discovered early in life, and I want to say that it is responsible for the little success I have achieved. At the beginning of the whole venture, I did not look like someone who would succeed. In fact, many people, including relatives and close friends, wrote me off initially. But I discovered this truth: the secrets of making money belong to God. For anyone who wishes to be successful, the first step is to know God, obey Him, serve Him and praise Him in everything. That is what can take you into wealth, health and long life. When you know God and you ask Him for the things you want, He will give them to you. Mind you, I did not say when you know God, you will not have challenges in life. You will, but you will always overcome such challenges and difficulties.
Everybody has what God has prepared for him. The problem we have is that some of us are in the wrong places. Ask God to show you that thing, which when you touch it, will turn into gold.
Femi Pedro is a banker, business owner, investor and politician of some sort with business interests that cut across banking, real estate and hospitality.
MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
Money is not wealth but an illusion that diminishes in value while wealth is lasting and lives for many generations. Money disappears from those that lack the knowledge of wealth creation. Wealth flows from the income you generate from your wealth instruments. A lot of people who have mistaken money for wealth will have themselves to blame because they will find themselves in the poverty trap sooner or later. Moreover, people need to understand that good education, intelligence and talent are not passports to wealth if one lacks the knowledge of wealth creation. Young people should learn this early.
BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
Your hard-earned money is not the money you take home as a salary but what you make out of your investments. Whoever is afraid of taking risks will never accomplish anything substantial in his lifetime. You need an investment adviser. Between 1988 and 2002, I had two investment advisers that I relied on. If you want to hedge your risks, your investment adviser will tell you. Some stocks are called blue chips because they have been around for a long time and survived hard times and are still thriving. That is why they are blue chips, and their stocks are high. You are not likely to lose your investments with them. A lot of people that lose money in the capital market do so because they do not use experts. They tried to do it alone. Basically, investing is a vocation and habit because you must be consistent. You must have passion for it to understand it and you must use experts to play in that market.”
Professor Pat Utomi is a scholar, political activist and boardroom guru, sitting on the boards of a few companies in Nigeria.
IMAGINATION WILL TAKE YOU FARTHER THAN MONEY WILL
Money is the most fungible of assets that can be converted into another kind of asset. It is something that can help you accelerate the pace of accomplishing something, but on its own, can accomplish very little in terms of real value. Imagination will take you farther than money will take you. Money is a facilitator and not an end itself. There are many people who have a lot of money and live in misery.
INVEST IN PEOPLE
Investment in people is much more important than investment in stocks. As any of these people creates wealth, there is an increase in the pool for the whole society. Yes, many will be ungrateful and will never come back to you, but like in venture capital, if it is only one that is grateful and comes back, it pays for all others.
DON’T EAT YOUR PROFIT BEFORE IT IS EARNED
Some people project their profit and begin to spend it in advance. This is the reason you have many people who were rich yesterday, but today are poor. Also, integrity is the most important asset in business. The day you lose it, you’ve lost everything.
Adedotun Sulaiman is a renowned management consultant and a boardroom guru with interests in close to over 20 companies.
I AM NOT DRIVEN BY MONEY
I never spend all my money. Never. I also live within my means and don’t indulge in consumption patterns or a lifestyle I cannot sustain. Consequently, I don’t know what it is like to be broke. While I will continue to invest, I do have a few indulgences, like my investment in a fairly substantial art collection of mostly Nigerian and African Art. But basically, money doesn’t mean that much to me. Money, for me, is a measure of the reward that you get if you do something right. What it does for me, apart from meeting basic needs, is the confidence it provides that you can meet your needs and afford a few luxuries within reasonable limits, and of course, the absence of anxiety about not being able to meet them. The more money you have, the more you should realise that you don’t really need that much to live a decent life. Beyond that, money should be used to do good, to touch the lives of the less privileged or less endowed. I believe I will do well with a lot of money, but will also do as well, be happy, and content with very little money. I don’t think money can ever change my essence.
DON’T INVEST IN WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.
One of my golden investment rules is that I do not invest in anything I don’t know much about. If it is too esoteric, specialised, and not in my area of expertise, I just will not go there. I invest in things that I know at least a little about. My motivation for investment has never really been about money. I am motivated more by a desire to use my knowledge, experience, contacts and relationships to help a younger person get ahead. It is, therefore, not an accident that most of my investments are with young entrepreneurs and start-ups. I will give them a bit of money, but more valuable than the money I give them are my time, access to me and my network, hand-holding them, and mentoring them.
Bunmi Oni, a former Managing Director of Cadbury PLC, currently lectures at the University of Lagos Postgraduate School.
YOU NEED TO LEARN ABOUT MONEY MANAGEMENT
My principle on money is mainly that money is a means, not an end. It is good to have it, provided it does not have you, and maintaining that balance requires discipline. This is where my Christian faith provides the lead. You need to get your spouse involved all the way. In this regard, I believe I have better skills in money management than my wife even if I say so.
PREPARE FOR LIFE AFTER WORK
I had a retirement plan but couldn’t describe it as sound. I left more of the savings than I should have in a current account instead of having it work for me. I learned the virtues of saving long ago and tried to be guided by the principle to live on no more than 80 per cent of my income, and the rest spread over other commitments – retirement savings, tithe, contingency or the unexpected. Of course, this wasn’t always possible, especially when all children were in tertiary institutions and mortgage payments had to be made.
Managing investments was something I did not do well until I left office. I later built a structure that works for us – smarten up the investment and get a good spread across asset classes; set a deposit that generates interest to finance day-to-day expenses. Others include planning for children’s weddings (I cannot claim I was caught unawares!), insurance, medicals, routine maintenance around the house, and of course, vacation. It’s good to set out all known expenses and decide precisely how each will be met while having your eye on the unexpected.
Come to think of it, we spend a third of our lives in retirement. That’s a long time and we must plan for the period. Therefore, three basic questions to ask: where will you live? What will you live on? And how will you keep mentally and physically fit? On the latter, it’s good to do something new like learning a new language or playing the piano, doing puzzles like Sudoku. In addition, I decided to teach postgraduate courses on a part-time basis.
Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education in Nigeria, is an economic policy expert and political activist of some sort.
INVESTMENT IN PEOPLE IS IT FOR ME
I see money as a means to an end. I don’t see it as an end. I see money as an exchange to get other kinds of goods and services. So, I say rather than having investment in an account, I would invest in what we regard in Economics as translating from one form of capital to a higher form of capital. One rule of investment for me is that if that money can go into somebody’s education, I would rather use it to invest in that human capital.
Also, money will never be my God. Money can never be the reason I wake up and go to bed and that’s not because I have anything significant. No. It is because it simply has no rule over me. I cannot accumulate money from unjust gain because unjust gain has its consequence; neither will I have money without purpose. What it means is money must be purposeful in my life. It must go into serving people beyond me. Again, I must have what is called rainy season money for emergencies, and finally, I must invest in myself.
Jimi Agbaje, a trained pharmacist, is an investor, business owner, politician and political activist. He was the governorship candidate of the opposition party in Lagos State on two occasions.
YOU CAN BE RICH, BUT NOT A SUCCESS.
Wealth for me is a combination of things: it is not just money. Wealth is something that should be leveraged. I believe wealth comprises a lot of things: your name, integrity, beliefs, network, how much you give back to society, and your money, however, little. Money without all the others does not constitute success.