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Up Close and Personal With Wole Oluyemi

5 Mins read

Financial expert, Wole Oluyemi, is a notable name when it comes to issues regarding investing, financial accounting and reporting, financial planning and analysis. In this piece, we get up close and personal with Wole and get to meet the man behind the name. 

Tell us about yourself.

I am Wole Oluyemi. I am a chartered accountant with about 20 years diversified experience covering the USA, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Cameroon Cote D’Ivoire, South Africa and other African countries while with Fortune 500 organizations such as Arthur Andersen KPMG and the Chevron Corporation. I have experience spanning across the financial accounting and reporting, financial planning and analysis, strategy and planning, business and market intelligence, and digitalization strategy and delivery. In essence, I have been working as a finance and strategy advisor to senior executives of large and growing organizations. I also support many growing businesses across Africa as a finance and strategy coach.

I have also started or participated in many business ventures, especially in NIgeria. Some of these ventures achieved great success, while some failed. Yes, I have been part of some business failures and lost money, but we all learned through the process. I always like to work with friends, colleagues, and other investors to collaborate and support early stage companies that focus on generating a measurable social impact alongside strong financial returns in the Sub Saharan region. I am on the board of a few private organizations where I am leveraging my finance and strategy background and experience to provide guidance and support to upcoming business leaders. 

I was born and raised in Ijebu Igbo, in the southwestern part of Nigeria. I lost my mum late last year, and it was one of the most challenging moments of my life. I am still grieving. I am an alumnus of the great Obafemi Awolowo University and the Lagos Business School. I started a doctoral program at Cranfield University (UK), but is currently on hold due to personal distractions.  I love traveling, the “soft life” lifestyle, and street photography. I am married to a beautiful, lovely lady, and I have two smart and beautiful daughters. l

How would you describe yourself, wealth-wise?

Using common language I see regularly on Twitter, I’ll say that I am “a small boy with a big God.” I am from the Ijebu tribe in Nigeria, and all Ijebus, including the young ones, are assumed to be rich anyway, as the Ijebus are usually very enterprising. Anyway, I am still a hustler that God will continue to bless. 

How much was your first pay ever as a graduate, and what did you spend it on?

I think it was about N18,000 from Arthur Andersen in September 2001. As a Yoruba boy, a part of my first pay went to my parents and a few other people who were part of my progress until that moment. I also did a quiet Thanksgiving in church in addition to some charitable giving. The remaining was spent on new shirts, singlets, and belts from Mandilas (behind the Marina Post Office in Lagos. I still managed to have a little savings then, though. We thank God for the small but great beginnings. 

What is your investment strategy like?

I usually have a mid to long term view on investments while consciously seeking to understand the situations in the short term. I don’t invest in things I don’t understand. I focus on impact, growth in value and returns. As expected for my age, I am still able to get into some high risk investments as part of my portfolio. However, there are some investments that I am not comfortable getting involved with. If I can not explain how the business is making money, then it is not for me. 

You see, my parents brought my siblings and I up to be of strong moral compass. My parents believe in the concepts of hard work, ethical behavior with a strong moral compass, God’s grace and strong community impact. If you buy a car or house, you must be ready to explain to my parents how you got the money in a very simple and logical way. You see, this is one of the reasons why it is very difficult for me to invest in things like cryptocurrency. I am not yet ready to explain that to my father!

What investment vehicles are you most passionate about?

Real estate and mutual funds (including investment clubs or cooperatives). 

What’s your advice to Gen Zs on investing and money management?

Invest in your future. Start saving and investments early, no matter how small. Then, be consistent. In fact, be aggressive but watch out for the fundamentals. If any investment looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Investing is not a magic show. 

How do you relax?

I watch at least one movie with my family every week. Golf and photography also helps to shift my mind away from thinking about work or anything that looks like finance, strategy and investments. Also, doing nothing is also a form of relaxation. 

What are the best books on financial management you have ever read and would recommend?

  • The Bible
  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • Richest Man in Babylon
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • The Intelligent Investor
  • Conscious Capitalism
  • I will Teach You How to be Rich
  • The Jewish Phenomenon 
  • The Compound Effect

Who is your biggest mentor and why?

My parents! They are the only ones that could have molded me into whatever I am today. God definitely chose them as my parents for a purpose. 

What inspires you to get up every other day? What makes you happy?

Impact – whatever I do, I always want to see the positive impact, – whether on people, processes, places, or things. This is what inspires me to get up every day and do all that I do. 

If you could change something about yourself, what would that be?

I would love to create more time to travel and have fun with family and friends. I love the “soft life” lifestyle. 

If you could change something about the world right now, what would it be?

Poverty and racism. 

If you could change something about Nigeria at the moment, what would it be?

Leadership. We need genuine leaders that truly have a dream of what the New Nigeria looks like, and are ready to get most of us to join them in pursuit of that goal. I am talking of leaders like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Nelson Mandela of Africa (not of South Africa), Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Patrice Lulumba of Congo. 

What draws you to a person and what puts you off?

I like being around highly intelligent people (smart with strong emotional intelligence), people who are focused, driven and passionate about their goals, and people who are ready to say the truth irrespective of the consequences. Let me try to remember things that put me off. I think I have a very short list that includes a lousy lifestyle, not being dependable or trustable, poor dressing style, and people who hang around you just because of relative power or other transient benefits. 

What movie or television series do you believe teaches the most about money?

I am not that into movies, but I can still remember some movies and documentaries that teach about different aspects of money and money management. In no particular order, I can still remember the Tinder Swindler (that’s the most recent), Quam’s Money (comedy by Falz from

Nigeria), The Accountant, The Wolf on Wall Street, Too Big to Fail, Ivory Tower, Moneyball, The Company Men, Inside Job, Laundromat, Billionaire Boys Club, Other People’s Money,  Freakonomics, the Money Pit, In Pursuit of Happiness, Working Girl, Slumdog Millionaire, Living on One Dollar, Confessions of a Shopsholic, Enron – The Smartest Guy in the Room, Minimalism – Documentary on Important Things, and Indecent Proposal. 

What goal(s) do you still want to achieve in the near future?

Get more involved in start-up incubation, talent identification, teaching, and executive education to help shape future leaders that will eventually have a great impact on the world, and not just on the African continent. Retire early, enjoy the world and have fun.

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