Sola Adesakin is the Lead Coach and CEO of Smart Stewards. She is an experienced and versatile Chartered Accountant with about 17 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. Sola is the managing Partner of BookSmart financial Solutions; an SME friendly Accounting firm, She is the Convener of Smart Stewards Initiative; a Platform for teaching sound principles on personal finance management especially for women. Sola has authored 5 books; her latest being the “40 Frugal Rules For Your Journey To Financial Freedom”; A Practical and Pragmatic Guide For Wealth Management and the “Smart Financial Organizer”; A One year Money Diary to help people gain control of every area of their personal and Family Finances.
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 also a recipient of the Women X Scholarship; An Initiative of the World Bank and Pan Atlantic University for Female Entrepreneurs. The “Save money” expert shares her inspiring story in this interview.
I had always loved figures and dared to tell anyone I would become a Chartered Accountant. When I was in Secondary school, JSS3 to be precise, I did so well in the Junior WAEC; amongst the best results in my set that I was instantly posted to a science class. My Dad thought I was brilliant enough to be a Medical Doctor; perhaps the first in our family, but Physics, Chemistry and the likes weren’t sinking in at all, so I asked to be allowed where I wanted to be; Commercial class where I would study courses like Commerce, etc. I am glad I stood my ground. Nothing brings more fulfillment for me than helping people solve money issues.
I am in my late 30s, the first daughter of my Mum, but the 5th of my dad. Born in Lagos Nigeria, I grew up in a polygamous home; howbeit amongst siblings who have strong ties and love for one another. I started my educational exploits with an HND from the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro in the year 2000 and got a BSc degree from Oxford Brookes University (United Kingdom) in the year 2006. I am a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Accountants of the United Kingdom (ACCA). I hold an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School in Scotland and I am also an Associate Member of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. (CGA CPA). Happily married and a mother of 3 amazing boys. I am a born again Christian. I have a passion for people, for their finances, their businesses; small and large businesses alike: building structures for them, developing leadership and enabling a business to maximize the essence of its existence. I have built structures for businesses, trained people; see such businesses grow by leaps and bounds. I have taught people at different levels and cadres the importance of appropriate structures in their businesses and endeavors. All these have further instilled a passion in me to harness my desires and taking it to higher dimensions
Inspiration behind “Smart Stewards”
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the year 2002; about 16 years ago and started out working in managerial roles. After a while I got a relatively good job and started to earn well. Unfortunately, all the things I learnt in school as an Accounting student and in my professional certifications did not impact the way I spent money. Being a Chartered Accountant didn’t amount to good personal finance management for me as I probably fared worse than people who had little or no theoretical knowledge of Finances. My Finances were scattered.
My Finances were always out of shape; I was regularly in debt, My salary would not last beyond 3 days after receiving it, I was a spendthrift , I would draw down on my savings less than a week of keeping the money aside and I felt totally helpless! When it dawned on me I couldn’t continue that way, I made a commitment to making a change and things turned around for me. Coupled with the necessary knowledge and appropriate certifications, I embarked on that rewarding journey of helping and teaching people about managing their personal finances! The testimonials have been overwhelming!
Being a Chartered accountant, Author, personal finance coach and motivational speaker
First and foremost, I would say “ A man can receive nothing , except it be given him from above” Grateful for the opportunity to be multi-gifted and multi-dimensional as I have come to realize not everyone can juggle a lot of things as I do. Smart Stewards was borne out of years of study of the biblical story of the Biblical Parable of the 3 stewards that got 5,2 and1 talents respectively. I believe everyone has been gifted with different capacities and abilities to fulfill purpose( everyone has at least 1 gift) and for me, I think it’s an innate wiring for me to be able to juggle a lot of things. Being a Chartered Accountant is a profession, being an Author is an expression of my love for writing (yes I love to write and I can tell stories from any and everything I see around me). Coaching on Personal Finance is a Passion borne out of my personal experiences and speaking is a platform of expression for all of these sides of m
Decision to publish “40 frugal rules for your journey to financial freedom”
Like I earlier mentioned, I was clueless on managing money as I struggled year in, year out trying to make sense of my finances. Yes I was knowledgeable on money issues, but I couldn’t practise those things for unexplainable reasons. I really hit bad times as I made very wrong money decisions with grave consequences. I lost money by investing in get-rich-schemes, I couldn’t meet up with the important needs in life because I focused on the nice-to-have; neglecting the need-t-have. I was a miserable and incurable spender.
A few years ago, part of my New Year resolution was to get things right; particularly because I knew I had so much to offer and teach from my experiences. I committed to changing and becoming a Smarter Steward of my resources; which included my time and of course finances and the rest is history. I developed short term courses and there is this particular one which is known as the 6-Month Accountability Program; an accountability program for those who are really ready to take their journey to financial freedom a notch higher; those who would like to work towards and experience a positive change in their finances . The course entails a 26-week curriculum delivered by emails and telephone calls( and physical meetings when necessary) where I “walk” the financial freedom journey with enrollees, teaching them everything they need to know about Making, Managing and Multiplying Money. The 40 Frugal Rules was borne out of that curriculum.
On a daily basis, I get calls and messages from women and men who would love to maximize their finances, break loose from the hold of debt and live a financially fulfilling life. So far, I have consulted for loads of people on their personal and by extension their business finance and this book summarizes what everyone needs to know about their personal finance.
A great man once said, “The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book. A lot of people are too lazy to read, learn, make proper inquiries on what to do with their money, where to put it and what to expect. It’s sometimes difficult getting people to learn and understand the power of consistency in practicing the right money principles. People hardly follow through with reading, acquiring and applying relevant knowledge. Those who do have great stories to tell however.
Secondly, Consumerism, lack of proper planning and inability to prioritize are issues contending with the wealth building abilities of people and sometimes, it is difficult getting people to realize the need to plan for the future; Retirement and all. People naturally want to make more money; with little or no thoughts about saving or investing, People would rather buy the next ceremonial attire with no plans for paying their children’s school fees. Keeping up with the Jones’ is a menace that needs to be eradicated. A lot of awareness of the importance of financial planning needs to be created.
I teach financial planning and the benefits not just in corporate settings, but also in churches, schools and NGOs.Through the Smart Stewards Platform, we organize programs that aim to sensitize and teach women on wealth building and management.
Through the FRUIT (Female relationship Unveiling inspired Truth) Foundation, we mentor young girls; especially in secondary school in order to prepare them for the world of entrepreneurship ahead. We also sponsor women to learn vocational skills in order to empower them financially.
Being a recipient of the Women X scholarship
I was in New York two years ago; 2016 precisely when a friend shared on a facebook group the details about the Womenx scholarship. The World Bank was sponsoring 500 women to obtain a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from the prestigious Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University. I applied for it and it was a very transparent process. I probably was among the last set of people admitted into the program.
We were taught the basics of entrepreneurship and what it takes to build a successful business. Strategy, Leadership, Accounting, branding, Human resources Management and other important subject matters were considered. It was a worthwhile experience and through the alumni programs, the knowledge keeps flowing to us. We have been equipped to build world class businesses.
Balancing my home and work effectively
I am extremely grateful for a supportive spouse who allows me to thrive and for my amazing children. I work from home many times, I find time to be with the children and sometimes, I do not go out at all. I make sure to do school runs once a day; either in the morning or in the evening and that is to encourage more bonding moments. Some weekends are for staying at home and I look forward to having at least 2 of such in a month.
That’s a very ambiguous question if I must say( laughing), but I cherish the everyday feedback from people on how what I teach them makes a lot of difference in their finances and families. Finance-related family stress is doused; some marriages on the verge of divorce are restored, people experience paradigm shift regarding their finances; chronic spenders are healed; they are able to save, invest and build wealth. These and more are pleasantly rewarding.
The Nigerian woman being informed on budgeting and money management
Gratefully, a lot of Finance experts are putting out the information out there and the sensitization on personal finance is on the increase. Radio programs, TV shows, Social Media, Women groups have made it a lot easier for people to learn on a daily basis. Learning is on one part, applying what they learn is equally and perhaps more important. Prior to now, maybe the Nigerian woman was not adequately informed; but there are channels and platforms to learn from; free and paid-for. Every woman owes themselves that responsibility to learn and implement what they learn.
Who and what inspire me to be better
The Holy Spirit is my greatest source of Inspiration. He paints pictures in my heart and many of those have become my reality. He helps me dream big and achieve things my ordinary mind couldn’t have comprehended.
Grateful for my husband Gboyega Adesakin also. He is my number one cheerleader. When I share my ideas( and fears), he patiently listens and helps to strategize on how to implement. He allays my fears and helps me soar.
My Smart Stewards community looks up to me to provide solid leadership and show them the way to go. They keep me on my toes; helping me to learn more and more. It’s one thing to know, it’s another to practice and it’s another thing entirely to teach and practice what you preach. They make me Accountable
I am surrounded by a strong network of friends who inspire me to do better and mentors who show the way to go always.
Being a woman of Rubies
I actually love that word “Rubies” and I have a book titled “Rubies Of Wisdom” which is a 40 day Journey For Women regarding their finances; drawing from biblical stories of about 40 women mentioned in the bible and how they handled money issues.
I am thankful for the gifts and talents God has given me and the ability to express them in various ways. My price is definitely far above rubies and I am glad to be entrusted with this assignment.
Advice for women on managing their finances and savings culture
If you save money, money will save you. What you earn isn’t what makes you wealthy; it is how you manage what you earn. Think money, think long term, thing about the future.
Imagine this scenario;
Your grandchildren and children actually love to come see Grandma, because Grandma is such a delight to visit; you can’t leave her without getting a fat cheque or gift. She even gives out cars and landed properties as gifts. She needs not depend on anyone for her sustenance because she has prepared adequately for her future post retirement.
Do you like to be that person? You have to work towards it by planning your finances and living deliberately. Planning for the future starts now!