When people ask you, what do you do, what do you tell them?

I am an Engineer. I’m part of a team of researchers based out of the United Arab Emirates; committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation in materials research and development.

What does financial wealth mean to you?

I enjoy what I do – for the many exciting and challenging projects I work on and (of course) the remuneration – but I know I can only earn from active work for so long. By constantly seeking ways, today, of increasing my potential to earn more and making sound investment choices with my earnings, I can hope to have the returns from those investments foot my bills and support those who depend on me even in retirement without having to settle for agonizing, lack-induced lifestyle changes. That, for me, is being wealthy.

When did you start investing?

I started investing in 2014 – the year I moved to the Middle East.

What did you invest in? 

Mutual funds (in different asset classes) are operated by Nigerian asset management companies. What was strange and somewhat unwise was that I was converting my USD to NGN, incurring plenty of international fund exchange charges just to invest in those instruments. You know, I still have those accounts, I just no longer fund them.

Speaking with friends here in UAE, I got introduced to a number of Middle East-based investment opportunities, starting with highly liquid, near-term instruments, then equity-based, then commodity-based, then real-estate based. It had happened before I knew I was building a diversified portfolio. I mean, I didn’t do it consciously. I just followed the lead of experts who I deferred to on money handling matters.

Risevest’s investment opportunity came at a time when, I think, I had had quite a good grasp of what asset class does what; and what to expect from what. When? 2020. How? The great customer reviews on TwitterNG are difficult to ignore. Despite its own unique investment proposition, Risevest just neatly fitted in, into my overall investment plan.

What is your experience with Risevest so far?

It’s been an unbelievably remarkable experience. And my words should count because I have quite a few other investment platforms to benchmark Risevest’s experience against; most – as I mentioned – operating in the Middle East and managed by really intimidating names. 

How do you approach investment today?

Long term, with a portfolio, annually rebalanced to reflect reducing appetite for risk. (Too much grammar. I get it.) Every year, in my birth month, I remove a certain percentage of my funds from high-risk assets and put them in those with reasonably lower risks, reflecting the fact that my ability to withstand shock is reducing with increasing age.

Also, I am an engineer, calculus is stressful enough. I do not know and do not want to know how to pick stocks. So, I approach investment decisions as I do with decisions involving my health – leave professionals to manage what they are trained to manage, it’s their 9 to 5. That way, I can focus on being better at my own 9 to 5, improving performance, keeping my boss happy and making it difficult for him to say ‘no’ when I ask for a raise.

In essence, I give my money to asset managers and trust them to grind out the details of what instruments to invest in. Like it is with Risevest, my profit is their profit.  

What is the investing hill you’re willing to die on

I know my freedom number. I am certain of hitting it with slow but consistent returns. In fact, I don’t want to win too early. As such, cryptos and NFTs don’t fit into my winning strategy. I know just enough about these instruments to hold a meaningful low-level conversation if need be. Nothing more. No committing a dime.

Does it not feel like you’re missing out on cryptos and NFT’s though? 

But you just don’t jump into a plane to France and into the pitch in Parc des Princes because Messi makes a kill every week, and you want to too. There are more than a couple of ways to make big profits but not all of these methods fit everyone’s temperament and tolerance level.

If digital currencies had been the thing it is now when I started out, I might have tried my hands on them. But now, I can see very clearly the retirement I desire for myself and my spouse; and we are very much on course. If we don’t screw up the beautiful life we have been blessed to have at this time with plenty of bad choices, trust me, we will get there even with single-digit annual returns.

Since you started investing, what has been your biggest gain?

Friends crowdfunded to buy an apartment; we refurbished and flipped. 18% returns in three months. I didn’t (and still don’t know) the exact location of that apartment. We trusted the most knowledgeable amongst us to execute and close the deal.

Have you made any losses since you started investing?

Exited with losses? No. Seen losses? Yes – zooming in on trends over a short period of time. But these losses typically disappear when I back off and view trends over the long term. And because I have never had to make panic withdrawals, I would say it’s all been gains for me.

So what’s the secret to not losing money?

To say: “Ignore the short term fluctuations,” right? But it goes deeper than that.

You know it would be quite difficult to convince someone who has his life savings (plus borrowed money) invested in a stock asset, to not be panicky in the event of a big market dip. It’s human nature. In fact, to do otherwise is superhuman. 

Moreover, it is easier to not make panic withdrawals when that fund we have committed to investment is part of what we loosely term “disposable income.” What we therefore should strive to do is continually seek ways of increasing our earning potential either through side gigs (if your main gig allows) or investing in the right knowledge that increases our performance and productivity in the main gigs, and by extension, we are able to command higher remuneration for our service.

These things, I believe, do have a somewhat direct influence on how much time we are willing to let our investments grow in spite of short term noises.

Finally, if your investment position is keeping you up all night, maybe you are taking on too much risk.

What is the hardest decision you have had to make since you started investing?

Hardest? Can I say inconvenient? That would be in my early days of investing. Converting my earnings in USD to NGN; so I could invest in mutual funds in Nigeria; since there weren’t many USD denominated investment platforms out there then.  

Before making your first investment, what do you think you should have known?

I think I schooled myself thoroughly enough before subscribing to Naira operated mutual funds. There just weren’t many USD (if any) denominated assets then in Nigeria. Besides, only Naira currencies were being paid out to recipients in Nigeria even when the sender deposited USD. And there was no way I could have started investing in the middle east from the get go. So, it was what was available. It was what I availed. No regrets.

How do you feel about your investment position today?

Solid and sufficiently diversified; in terms of asset classes and thanks to Risevest,  geographical spread. What was missing in my portfolio before Risevest was a Nigerian managed diversified USD denominated portfolio that would cater to me as a Nigerian diaspora; that I found in Risevest. And that to me, is quite important, because the managers (Risevest) can understand and appreciate my unique aspirations, concerns and fears as a Nigerian in ways that an Oyinbo fund manager might find it difficult to, or even dispel as me, being paranoid. See nah, how do I explain to my Oyinbo asset manager that diesel for the generator is one of the major expenses I would be incurring in retirement or that I can’t afford not to spray mint at Satode-Satode owambe, so he should help me plan accordingly?

What is your dream investment?

One that would cater to my need for a roof over our heads, clothes to cover our nakedness, and foods to quench our hunger. Those are for me and my spouse. 

Our children should be able to go to college (if they so desire) in the countries of their choice. All of these happening without a paycheck from active work.  

What are you doing to make that dream a reality?

Everyone in my family is on this journey together. We are not torturing ourselves to stay invested. Far from it. We enjoy the best moments we can today, eat out more often than normal, and vacation every now and again. Yet, we recognize that there is really no end to satisfying our longings. As one longing gets fulfilled, another lurks around. So, as soon as payday arrives, we pay our future selves first, take care of recurring expenses, and enjoy the now with whatever is left.

What will you tell a beginner about investment?

I know this has been said too many times but investing and seeking quick massive returns are just not the same. While the former is based on a deep understanding of how money works and making conscious efforts at delaying one’s gratifications; the latter is fueled by greed. Even if you, at one time ‘cashed out’ before the crash, you still did not invest, you only escaped the shot by a hair’s breadth. Would you go about life playing the game of Russian roulette every day?

And if that beginner investor is younger than me by a few numbers, I would like for her to know that investing in educating oneself is arguably the best investment there is. It pays the best returns. School no be a scam. Education presents the clearest and surest path to stability. What you then do with your money when you start earning determines whether you would be financially wealthy or not.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you going to recommend Risevest to new users?

C’mon man. No 6? Risevest offers a unique USD denominated and US domiciled investment opportunity for Nigerians. It could have been unintended, but these opportunities are just as great for Nigerian diasporas as they are for residents. You know remittances go primarily into family support and investments. But stories abound of how the remittances aimed towards investments have been mismanaged by folks we trust our money with. 

Thank you very much for speaking with us.