Sola Adesakin is a multi-dimensional author, speaker and finance expert, experienced and versatile chartered accountant with about 18 years hands-on experience on personal and SMEs finance. She is a personal finance coach, trainer and conference/seminar speaker. Through her blog and The Smart Stewards Academy, (www.smartstewards.com), she has helped many men and women bounce back from stress to rest and from debt to wealth.
She holds a BSC in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the United Kingdom (ACCA). She is a Member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA) and she also holds an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School (Heriot-Watt University) Scotland.
Sola is the Managing Partner of BookSmart Financial Solutions; an SME friendly Accounting firm and also the Founder and Lead Coach of Smart Stewards; a platform for teaching sound principles on personal finance management especially for women. Through the Smart Investment Club, she has helped many Africans (mostly Nigerians), living across the world, jumpstart their journey to financial freedom using investments as a tool and they have jointly invested over $2m in just about 18 months.
She has authored 8 books, her latest being “Fit to Fly Financial Plan,” .Other books authored by Sola, include, “May I Have My Money,” “The Real Profit,” “40 Frugal Rules For Your Journey To Financial freedom” and “A Practical and Pragmatic Guide For Wealth Management.” Her books are available on Amazon (in digital and paper back formats) and other leading book distributors. She is a recipient of the Women X Scholarship, an initiative of the World Bank and Pan Atlantic University for Female Entrepreneurs. She is happily married with children.
Growing up and influence till date
I am grateful for the input of my parents who provided the motivation and financial support for who I have become today. I remember my mum bought my ICAN forms a few years before I would even be ready to start writing the qualifying examinations. She kept the forms in her wardrobe and kept telling me about the need to study hard. Little wonder I qualified as a Chartered Accountant less than 2 years after I left the University. My Dad supported me by financing my education all the way to my very first professional qualification (I have got quite a number of them today).
Why the passion for Personal and SME Finance?
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant about 18 years ago and for long enough, my personal financial state was nothing to write home about. My finances were scattered and I was always unhappy about that. I made money mistakes and lost money a few times before I realised that financial literacy was totally different from getting formal education. While schooling refines our minds, financial literacy refines our financial minds – increasing our aptitude – and helps us make intelligent money decisions.
My passion for personal and SME/business finance emanated from the lessons I learnt from my Dad’s business. Despite the injection of funds into the business through a loan from the bank, mismanagement of funds and pilferage led to the collapse of the business. In a book I wrote about 2 years ago titled The Real Profit, I drew a lot on the lessons from this experience for the benefit of today’s business owners. As I proceed with active coaching engagements for this group of individuals, I am quick to share how best they can avoid some of those mistakes by putting the right structures in place.
Smart Stewards Academy
Smart Stewards is a platform established to provide financial literacy resources and tools to people of different age categories and who are committed to attaining financial freedom. We have several expressions of this platform with uniquely different structures and functions. The Smart Stewards Academy is the learning hub for Smart Stewards where we have an array of courses on personal and business finance, as well as talent and resource management. There are self-paced short courses that teach financial management, investing and more. We also have group coaching courses, usually with a duration of between 4 – 6 weeks, for those with that learning experience preference.
The Smart Investment Club
The Smart Investment Club is one of the arms of Smart Stewards founded in November 2018. It is an informal club with members from about 13 countries (so far) who pool funds together to invest in viable opportunities. We have invested about $2m in various local and global opportunities across different asset classes.
Advice for businesses in times like this
2020 has been such a peculiar year. It has been quite disruptive, yet distinctive at the same time. Some businesses have failed, while others have experienced immense expansion. In my opinion, the three things that will further differentiate businesses at this time are: Knowledge, Technology and Collaboration.
Spend this time improving on your skills and business propositions. Work on your structures, position yourself in the digital space, acquire digital and e-commerce skills and finally, collaborate with others.
From your interaction and observations, would you say the average Nigerian understands the importance of savings and investments?
The dynamics of personal finance and literacy have changed over the last few years with the advent of financial technology platforms and increased awareness created by personal finance coaches and tutors. I see a lot more people getting interested in how they can make, manage and multiply their resources. It’s however important to mention that it is not enough to seek literacy; you must be willing to put in the efforts and cultivate the right habits. There is the popular personal finance saying that goes thus: Personal Finance is 20% knowledge and 80% habits.
It is not enough to know; you must be willing to do, too.
What have you mostly observed this season with your clients and also those who are not your clients?
A lot of people are looking for a quick way out, taking the “fastest route” approach to building wealth. Many want to invest in opportunities that will return 300% in 1 month and thereby, find themselves falling prey to ponzi schemes. My clients, though, know that wealth building is a marathon and not a sprint. It may take more time, but it works. Learn the principles and reap the rewards.
In what ways can people make money despite the challenges of the season?
Upskill, reskill, become more versatile, embrace technology and be ready to learn. There are new challenges coming up each day. So, position yourself as the solution to these challenges and people will readily hand you their money.
What were the challenges you faced when you started sharing with people on finance and from then till now, what has changed?
The main challenge revolved around the psychological beliefs that people had about money. For example: it takes money to make money, you have to come from a wealthy home to get wealthy, you have to be corrupt (especially in Nigeria) to build wealth, and so on. These couldn’t be further from the truth!
Becoming wealthy first of all happens in the mind. You must be positive about finances, about the fact that you have what it takes to build wealth and that life will reward your efforts. In recent times, I have seen a lot of people change their minds and come to embrace these truths.
At what age should parents begin to encourage and teach their children about financial matters?
As early as possible! As soon as these children can wield the power of choice, teach delayed gratification, contentment, teach about avoiding wastage, teach them about how money gravitates towards value and encourage them to maximise their talents. In doing this, you build the foundations necessary for a fruitful financial life.
How are you balancing work and family?
I am grateful for a very supportive husband who allows me to soar. For me, I tend more towards life integration than balance. My efforts are strategically targeted at maximising my time and resources such that everything works well, with all dimensions to my life getting the right amount of support and attention per time. At all levels, also, I have put support systems in place. An extra hand here and there goes a long way in making the journey easier.
What are your personal and professional challenges?
The absence of the right social and economic infrastructure that will allow for growth and development at all levels. By God’s grace, though, I am committed to overcoming the identified challenges for the benefit of myself and humanity at large.
If you were asked to advise the Nigerian government on our spending and borrowing, what will you say?
For a moment, think of Nigeria as a human being. Now, can you imagine a 60 year-old man who does not have a clue about being financially free? A 60 year-old that is still being spoon-fed, still being bathed, still being rocked to sleep?
Ideally, a 60 year-old should be able to boast of a net-worth and legacy for generations to come. But, all hope is not yet lost, if this 60 year-old is not there yet. She just needs to begin the journey.
So, to the government, I will encourage that our spending and borrowing be directed towards acquiring generational assets rather than towards consumption. That way, those coming ahead who will inherit these debts will gladly make the sacrifices necessary to pay them off in good time.
If you stood in front of a sea of Nigerian youths, what would you say to them?
My fellow Nigerian youths, GRIP your finances. This is so crucial. Pay attention to: G: Growth (Commit to self-development), R: Reading (Take responsibility for continuous learning.), I: Influence (Be careful who you allow to influence you) and P: Power of Many (Collaborate with others, especially now.)
You are uniquely talented. So, appreciate every good thing you have. Everyone has fears and insecurities. Even the strongest and bravest do. But you must never allow those fears to gain the upper hand. Time is one of your best resources, so use it well. Learn as much as you can. As well, celebrate those who are winning and collaborate wherever you can.
No matter where you are on the journey to financial literacy and freedom, just ensure you begin and don’t stop. Soon, your results will be evident, providing you the fuel you need to continue along that journey. I believe in you!