Why Nigerians need to build a culture of savings and investments in real and tangible assets – Tony Odutola

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Let’s get to meet you, tell us about yourself and your background?

I am Tony Odutola, a graduate of Business Administration from Ambrose Alli University, MBA (Finance) from the University of Lagos and Senior Management Programme Alumnus of Lagos Business School. Professionally, I am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments UK and an Associate Member of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers Nigeria.

What inspired you into your line of profession?

A mixture of providence and personal desire got me here. After my first degree, I was applying for roles in just about anywhere that vacancies occurred, from marketing roles to banking and telecommunications (man must wack, lol). I eventually got a gig with a firm that was into consultancy and financial intermediation, both were attractive to me. At about the same time, I stumbled upon a book – Richest Man in Babylon, and my eyes opened to Financial Planning and the power of compound interest. The rest is history because from then on, my path was drawn.

Being a professional with lots of experience, what has been your most challenging career moment?

The point I had to go back to school after a momentary shift in my career path, was a hard decision to take, but glad it paid off in the end.

How would you describe the Investment orientation in a developing country like Nigeria? Do you think our investment index is a reflection of the amount of residual income available?

The orientation in this clime is one of immediate gratification, and it is the reason we have a preponderance of Ponzi schemes and probably even faulted politics.

The fact that there exists in their billions is a confirmation that the indices do not capture the aggregate wealth available. We need to build a culture of savings and investments in real and tangible assets as well as financial products backed by law, for us to get it right. There is no quick way to climbing up the wealth ladder that is sustainable.

As a wealth manager, do you have any preference for the kind of investment you would participate in, are there basic patterns to watch out for before committing to a deal?

Because I work in a structured environment, there is no preference perse, this is due to the fact that investment limits are set across asset classes, so even if a particular asset class is returning superlatively, it is not advisable to expose the entirety of funds under management to the asset class.

This is a risk management framework put in place to shield the funds from negative market conditions that may occur in the near term.

For patterns, it is important to take those into consideration, as they will feed into the technical analysis required in the selection of an instrument. I will however posit that the fundamental analysis, which will refer to the questions around Management, Efficiency, Profitability, Liquidity, Capital sufficiency and other specific industry strengths of the underlying business of an instrument, is more strategic in making sound judgement calls.

Let’s talk about the time value of the Naira as against foreign currencies, how has it impacted your decision making? What short term strategies have you put in place to cushion this effect?

The devaluation of the Naira against major currencies worries everyone because we are all impacted in one form or the other, therefore investments with dollar receipts in companies exposed to foreign currency receipts will be attractive.

The nature of your Industry is very delicate with a lot of competition among companies, how do you build a successful customer base?

I think pushing for superior returns within acceptable risks, garnished with a human face in the form of excellent customer service delivery are time-tested strategies for building sustainable growth in customer acquisition. This much is what we do, backed up by a strong operational back-end.

Can you describe/outline your typical day? How do you balance the demands of your profession and family life?

The family unfortunately pays too much price for one to keep the job going as it is a chicken and egg situation. The traffic situation in the city makes it almost impracticable to spend family time at home, while the income from the job oils the wheel of the family. A delicate balance is truly needed and I think the conversation will stay with us for a long time to come. This is due to the fact that the economy is in a challenged state and the financial industry cannot do better than the economy where it finds itself, so you need managers to do extra to keep the organization afloat. These managers are people within the family, so it is a tough call.

What key activities would you recommend up and coming Investment analysts and wealth managers to invest their time for career and personal development?

I am a sucker for knowledge acquisition. Continuous learning and grit – that tenacity and never say die attitude is what will keep you going. Where you do not know, please ask questions (mentorship). Sometimes, study the CV of industry leaders or biographies if you can lay your hands on them, you will find well-treaded paths that can be a guide on how to navigate on your journey to becoming a leader yourself.

How would you define the Nigerian investment market? Are you optimistic that in the nearest future we would still attract FDIs and continue on an upward trajectory?

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For full disclosure, I am an optimist, so my answer will be yes. However, I believe that politics always trumps economics, therefore, we all have a role in ensuring that we educate ourselves on the most sustainable path to growth.

Electing the right leaders by getting involved in the determination of those leaders (I think riots and protests only scratch the surface, as things return to the status quo when the dust settles). Hold the leaders accountable by asking the right questions and ensuring that we do not regurgitate spent forces in the name of ethnic or religious sentiments. Do not let party affiliations sway you in the choice of a leader.

Only then would we get reforms that are strategic and would attract the right type of FDIs for national growth and development.

Professionally what should Nigeria and the world expect from you?  Can you share your future career aspirations?

This is where I am going to deviate from expectations, do what is right today and tomorrow will take care of itself is my mantra. In other words, educate yourself and get exposure, put in your best and improve the process, network and be part of progressive groups and opportunities will come knocking afterwards. When they come, analyse them, make your choice and do not regret it.

That said, I would expect that diligently doing the above, I would be at the top echelon of my profession in measured time. So that all can end like the Nollywood industry would say – To God be the Glory.

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