Jennifer is an Investment Analyst in the UK whose knack for finance and investments began even before she decided to take it up fully as a career. She talks about her earliest memory of making money, the risks involved in quick-reward investments, and how she intends to keep making her MoneyRise.
Hi, Jennifer, what do you do?
I am currently a Graduate Investment Analyst at Schroders in the UK.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up, I would say my parents were well-to-do. I went to a private primary school in Delta State and a government/private secondary school called Delta Steel Company Technical High School (DSCTHS). I say government/private because while I was schooling there, they were very conflicted on where they stood. Was it private or government-owned? Did Delta Steel Company own it, or did someone sell it to the Chinese or some Asian country? No one was sure. These issues resulted in strikes and so many different things.
I would not also say I had a fancy childhood; I wasn’t going abroad for holidays or anything like that, but my family was well to do. We were able to eat comfortably, go to school, and all that.
What is your earliest memory of making money?
I think of this in two ways: my earliest memory of earning money and my earliest memory of receiving money.
My earliest memory of receiving money was in primary school, during Christmas. Back then, in Warri, we didn’t do Christmas presents or exchange gifts. We instead, went to people’s houses on Christmas day, ate whatever they cooked for Christmas, and afterwards, the parents/adults of that home would “do Christmas” for (i.e. give money to) the children who came.
There was this Christmas when my brothers and I kept our money together. We created a bank we called TROM United Bank, formed from the 1st letters of our names. My eldest brother was the CEO, I was the Accountant, my younger brother was the Secretary, and the youngest was the P.R.O. As the Accountant of the “bank”, I kept all the money we got. I remember the exact amount we had after Christmas and New Year; it was ₦23,080. But the money didn’t last because our mum borrowed everything. She borrowed us into bankruptcy. That was my earliest memory of getting money.
Hahaha. That’s a typical African mother there!
Yes. So, my earliest memory of earning money would have to be in university in the 300 level. I attended Covenant University and sold shawarma in the hostel. Every day, I would make like ₦2,000 profit on sales, if I sold 20 pieces of shawarma. I guess you could say I was earning my urgent 2k back then.
Absolutely! And how did you manage to pull that off, knowing the kind of reputation Covenant University has?
How did selling shawarma come about? So, my roommate sold shawarma at the time. She was part of a business arrangement where someone hired her and some other people to sell shawarma in different halls in Covenant University (CU). Their boss, who was also a student, paid them a monthly salary of ₦15,000, while they remitted all the money they made from selling shawarma to her every day.
The shawarma business worked like this: If you bought shawarma in bulk from the people at the cafe, they sold it to you for N400 a piece. When you sold in the hostel, you could sell at a retail price of ₦500, making ₦100 profit on every shawarma. If you sold 20 or 30 a day, that is ₦2000 or ₦3000 profit a day and ₦60,000, a month! When my roommate did the maths, she realised she could make more money if she just sold for herself. So, she made up her mind to do the business herself.
When she explained it to me, I thought this was a great way to earn some extra cash by just running around the hostel for a few hours. It was very stressful, running around the hostel yelling, “shawarma for sale!” at the top of my voice. And on top of that, it wasn’t legal. One could be suspended, if they were caught by the authorities, selling things around the hostel.
Back then, I didn’t have a bank account with any of the banks on campus, so I had to hold all my profit in cash and lock it in my locker. I made sure to only keep the cleanest notes so all the money I had looked crisp.
Towards the end of that semester, after making like ₦20,000 in profit, I came back to the hostel one fateful day, checked my locker and noticed that all the money I had been saving up was gone! Stolen! I was shocked! That ₦20,000 profit was like 10 days of hard work. I cursed the person with all the horrible things I could think of. I believe my curses worked because the person I suspected of stealing the money ended up having bad things happen to her.
After the incident, I took a break from selling to mourn before getting back into it again. By the end of that semester, I made like ₦12,000 in profit. If that person did not steal my money, I would have made a lot more.
Oh, I’m so sorry.
Yeah, thank you. It’s all in the past, so I’m over it.
The selling of shawarma and going about almost the whole day, did that not affect your academics?
No, I still had a 5.0 GPA that semester. I only sold shawarma at night. I usually started around 7-8 pm when people finished from class and rounded up at about 10-11 pm.
At CU, we were not allowed to cook food; it was either you bought food at the cafeteria, or you cooked noodles with your electric kettle (and even that wasn’t so legal). After a stressful day of class, people that were too tired to go through the stress of buying food were my customers.
So, what course did you study at the university?
So, how did you find it?
It was easy, to be honest. I already loved Maths and Bookkeeping, and it came to me naturally, although there were challenging parts. Then again, it might be that hindsight is making me romanticise the journey. I think it was a good decision, though. I finished with a good CGPA and graduated best in my department and college, so I guess I didn’t do too badly.
Towards the end of my undergraduate, I realised that it was boring. I wanted to do something more interactive with people then I found Finance. During the summer break between 300 and 400 level, I got an internship in a Development Finance Institution. And in my final year, I applied to Loughborough University to do a Master’s in Finance and Investment. That was how I went from Accounting to Finance.
How do you find finance now? Is it the same with accounting?
It is not. Finance is different; there are some intersections between Accounting and Finance, but it is entirely different.
How do I find Finance? I think it is a lot better for me because I get to interact with people, and then what I do will not just live and die in a spreadsheet.
With Finance, I can help people make investment decisions, allocate money (capital) in ways that support great businesses and grow money, improve the value for money, and not just account for it. So yes, it is more exciting.
Let us talk about your finances; how are you doing with money right now?
I would say really good because I started investing more actively when I finished my undergrad. I started an investment portfolio to invest in different things I was curious about. At the time, I was investing in six different asset classes; a bond fund, stocks, crypto, Agricultural businesses, real estate, and food business that was selling shawarma.
You must really love shawarma!
I don’t really like shawarma like that, oh, to be honest, but I think the business part of it is exciting, lol.
Fair enough. Tell me about the stocks and crypto that you are invested in. How did you come about them?
Through different means. For some of them, it was during my research of their industry; for others, I just heard people talking about them and checked them out. I sometimes find stock ideas on Twitter. People tend to talk about their investment portfolio there. I just find different stocks and research to see what is most appealing about them. At the moment, I am currently investing in some interesting Biotech companies and, generally, tech companies. And then for crypto, the big names really, Bitcoin, Solana, Stellar, etc. I am not a meme coin kind of person. I am open to being convinced otherwise though.
Do you have any money regrets?
Yes. Contrary to what you might think, I once invested in a Ponzi scheme. It wasn’t MMM or any of those obvious ponzis that happened; It was a company that claimed to invest in a bunch of different things. The company claimed to invest in real estate, gold, and so many things. The company offered 40% returns every 40 days, an obvious scam.
So, how did you put your money in it?
The funny thing was, I saw someone post about it on their WhatsApp status. I was in 300 level at the time and I wasn’t all that smart about investing. You don’t learn about investing in Accounting (another reason I prefer Finance). I saw this person’s status and thought it was an excellent opportunity. I already did the maths and saw myself with billions in a few years. If only it were so easy, we would all be Dangote by now.
I asked the person many questions, and the answers he gave were suitable to my mind then. I didn’t lose a lot of money to it, though. I put in just ₦30,000 in case it was a scam. After 40 days, I messaged the person to find out when I could get my money. Then the stories started, and till now, the story is still on. And to be honest, if he had given me the 40% returns, I would have reinvested it. I probably would have lost more money in the future when the business inevitably crashed.
That was my only money regret. I wouldn’t say it was a regret actually because I think it was important for me to learn from that experience. The experience wasn’t so costly, and I knew enough to do better next time. So, I wouldn’t say it was a regret, more like a teachable moment for me.
You currently live and work in the UK, so tell me how you have been able to make your money grow?
From investing out of my salary into the different portfolios I told you about. I also have multiple sources of income. I tend to do a few influencing gigs here and there because I have a sizable audience of over 55,000 followers between Twitter and LinkedIn, where I talk about personal finance and investing. I do a few business deals here and there. I help promote some businesses online. I also have investments that are paying off. Then I get a few coins from some referral links for platforms I have shared about in the past.
What do you have for beginners Who might want to be like you eventually?
I would say: start with what you understand.
Don’t just look at the returns when you see an investment opportunity. Think about the risks associated and your understanding of the business. When you weigh the risk of investing in something, sometimes, you might discover that the return is not worth the risk you are taking.
In finance, there is something we call the risk-adjusted rate of return. It means that when you think of the risk relative to the returns, is this return still very attractive? If someone is offering you 40% returns in 40 days, but you have a 99% chance of losing all your money, that’s a very bad deal if you look at the adjusted risk of return. Always think about the risks before you decide if something is worth investing in.
Some people can take high risks, though. Many venture capitalist funds know that 90% of the start-ups they invest in will lose, but they are only looking for that 10% that will give them 100 times their money that will make up for all the money they lost. If you are not a high-risk taker who has a lot of money, and you do not have the patience and everything needed to make that kind of investment, then don’t make that kind of investment. Look for something that is slow and steady and will grow your money over time, and in the long term, in 10 to 15 years, you will be grateful to yourself for not jumping on those high-risk investments that might not have paid off.
Who knows, when you have built your asset to a point where you have a lot of money, you can start taking higher risk bets such that if you lose, you might not feel it that much, and if it grows, it is a win.