Investing is one of the few ways to build wealth and meet your financial goals. It is also a journey that very few people like or have the patience to wait out. But not Simisoluwa. In this episode of #MoneyRise, she tells us about her love for investing, her career journey as a finance manager, working with an NGO, and investing on Rise.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Simisoluwa Abraham. I possess a professional certification with ICAN and studied accounting at Babcock University. Currently, I serve as a finance manager at LEAP Africa, a non-profit NGO. I’ve always been in the NGO sector since the start of my career. As a finance manager at LEAP, I’m responsible for managing the finance in the organisation, developing and driving financial resilience, operational strategy, process, and resource optimization including financial and risk management. I have a fiduciary duty to my internal and external stakeholders. My internal stakeholders are the board, management, while external stakeholders are my funders or beneficiaries.

That’s an interesting bio right there. So why accounting? 

Historically, my interest in finance began as a child when I used to admire the way my dad and other bankers dressed and looked smart. I wondered who they were and what they did. Little did I know that it was a tasking job.

Also, I had a dilemma between accounting and law. I was so confused at the admission stage that I bought two forms— the law and accounting forms. My dad wanted me to read law because he believed I was too expressive and vocal, but I didn’t see that in myself. Decision-making can be very hard for me; I could not decide whether to study accounting or law, so I had to do all the courses in secondary school. I wrote both art and commercial courses at WAEC level. I felt like I could do law because I liked literature and government subjects. At the same time, I liked business studies, accounting and other commercial courses, like economics and commerce. It was really hard to decide. However, I had to ask myself if I wanted to do what I wanted to do or what my father wanted me to do. I had to take the bullet and go for my own choice rather than my dad’s. That was how I found myself in accounting.  

What has the experience been like?

My experience so far has been a mix. I have had to learn the ropes of working within finance functions. I started as an intern, and five months later, my manager left. I was lost and left to find my foot in the entire space. I had to  learn, unlearn and relearn. But I’ve been able to grow in the field, gathered experience, and grew to my current position of managing a unit. I’ve also had the opportunity to oversee people’s finances.

To deepen my work within the finance function, I signed up for the CFA program to learn other dynamics of finance and do more innovative and challenging work. Knowledge can never be too much, so I want to know it all.

You mentioned working in NGOs throughout your career. Have you always wanted to?

I always get that question. People ask why I chose to work in an NGO instead of an accounting firm. It all started after I was posted to an NGO for my service in Ibadan. I saw how it aligned with my visions and goals, as I was already carrying out community development projects. I renovated a dilapidated home with children living with polio, provided them with supplies and did an entire facelift of that facility. So, working in an NGO just brought those two visions together. I realised that I could actually do my finance work in the sector I wanted.

From there, I got promoted to a full-time role in the organisation. After a while, I moved to another not-for-profit. So it’s always been not-for-profit over the years. Currently, I work with LEAP Africa, a not-for-profit focused on youth development, leadership, and training. We build up leadership and life skills in young people, and continue to proffer solutions to problems facing youths within the ecosystem. I’ve grown over the years at LEAP Africa. I feel like I’ve paid my dues on a daily basis. I enjoy my day-to-day work of managing the entire financial system.

Wow. Weren’t you fazed by the pay disparity, especially knowing that you could earn more with your finance background working in a for-profit?

That was an eye-opener for me as well. When I started NYSC, I had this mindset that not-for-profit organisations don’t pay well. Many often assume that people who work in not-for-profit work for free or for lesser pay because they’re trying to give back to society, but that’s not totally true. It really depends on how large or small the organisation is and if it is a local or international one. In not-for-profit, there’s already a standard way of creating payroll. Funders decide how much each employee receives and put it away. Hence, whatever situation or crisis happens in the economy, you already have the amount set aside, sometimes in dollars. And by the time you convert it to naira, it’s already bigger than your regular worker’s pay.

That’s quite the revelation. So, let’s talk about investing. What are your thoughts on investing?

I love investing, and I’ve always been an investment chap. The main idea of investment that many people do not get is that as an investor, you need to have a long-term horizon mindset to make the money work before yielding adequate returns.  I advise everybody around me to be an investor. You cannot sit down on cash that you have because it keeps depreciating by the second. If you were earning 200,000 naira last year, the value right now is almost less than 100,000 based on the current economic situation. Hence, I clamour for everyone around me, like my husband, friends and siblings, to make investments. I also try to do investments on different platforms to diversify my options.

Speaking of diversification, what are some of the things you like to invest in?  

I am currently learning how to position well within the stock markets. The ideal person to invest in stocks is someone who understands what movement means in the chart flows and the stock markets. Regardless, I know how important it is to invest in stocks. You just have to be ready for long-term investment. Because of my limited knowledge of the stock markets, I would rather put very little money in a stocks portfolio. Hence, I put more of my money in fixed income because I know that regardless of what happens, there’s a fixed percentage coming in for me. I also like real estate because although it is a high-risk, high-return investment, it is not as volatile as the stock market. So, I do real estate on Rise.

Let’s talk about your journey on Rise.

I’ve been on Rise since 2021. At first, I was sceptical because when I wanted to start using it, there was news that the CBN had frozen Rise account and a few other fintech companies’ accounts. I had recently just downloaded it, ready to start, but I decided to take a step back and wait. I just put very little money in there, one I could let go of. After a while, I came back to start properly. I asked several people who used Rise what their experiences were, and the responses were great, so that built my confidence.

When I was getting ready for marriage, I had to think about what would make my budgeting journey successful for my wedding. I knew the amount and goal I had in mind, but if I kept it in naira, it probably would not work. It was also 2022, and I knew I was getting married in eight months. It was also around the time that the news about currency redesign came out, so scarcity started. I decided to keep my money in USD in Rise, as its value would still be preserved to a very large extent than if I just left the money in naira. This move saved me from a lot of financial trouble.

We love it! What other ways has Rise helped your financial journey?

Apart from my wedding, I just try to save and invest in USD largely. If I have my monthly income, I would rather put a larger proportion in Rise because I will convert that money to USD, and I know that I can always withdraw my money in USD if I need it at any time. I would just keep a small percentage for my day-to-day operations in naira. Basically, apart from helping me meet my wedding goal, Rise provides me with capital preservation. 

Also, I’m trying to learn, and Rise helps with that. I read many of the articles published on the blog and feed, particularly the monthly report that shows asset performance for the period, which I use to learn and understand the stock markets better. I also love the explainer articles. For instance, when fuel prices increased, I knew Rise would publish an article explaining why and its implications on people and their finances. And guess what? I was right. I use that to understand more about things happening in the economy.

You’re welcome! If you had to rate your experience on Rise over 10, what would you rate it?

I would say eight because there’s always an improvement to be done on the app for it to be more user-friendly. But overall, it’s easy to use. I like the fact that I can buy dollars from my bed. I don’t have to stand up to do that. I can also get my funds back in USD, which is a good plus.

Thank you! Finally, how likely are you to recommend Rise to people?

Very 100 percent likely. In fact, 101 percent. Like I said earlier, I always tell people around me to invest, so I recommend Rise every day, every time.