News Column

I Became Accountant By Accident - Akinlade

July 14, 2014

Nkasiobi Oluikpe

Some people believe that you can only save for the rainy day when you have had enough in the dry season. But for Matthew Akinlade, vice

president, Nigerian Shareholders Solidarity Association, and chairman, Nampak Nigeria Plc, that is the foolish man's ideology. There is no amount of income that is too low for something to be saved, as he has always advised his children and younger ones around him to regard 10 per cent of their take home package, right from the day they were employed, as not belonging to them. It calls for discipline but it is possible. Employment, he stressed, does not, cannot and has never lasted forever. One day, it definitely will stop.

Akinlade, a retired chartered accountant, is a member of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants of England; Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Chartered Institute of Taxation and is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School (1994).

His career life span across various organisations in the private sector, ranging from PZ Industries Limited (now Plc), Rutam Motors, Nigerian Soft Drink Company (original manufacturers of Sweppes) now bought over by Nigerian Bottling Company Plc, and his final place of employment, Metal Box Nigeria Plc, which metamorphosed to Carnaud Metal Box Plc and currently, Nampak Nigeria Plc. He was a factory accountant with them, and later became the financial accountant, chief accountant, financial controller, and retired as finance director in June 2003. At the exit of the former chairman in 2006, Akinlade took over the mantle as chairman.

Just like many of his contemporaries, he never set out to read accountancy from the very beginning. But time and circumstances saw him delving into the course.

According to him, "Accountancy was just accidental, it wasn't by design; it was the environment where I worked. Immediately after finishing secondary school, I worked in a company as an accounts clerk without any knowledge of accountancy and I discovered that everybody in the department was studying. Some were doing ICAN, some ACC and some were doing some part-time courses. The chief accountant, who so loved me, asked what I was doing with myself. I told him I hadn't made up my mind, and he then said: My friend, go and apply for the form of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). I did and got registered and that was it.

"Just like miracle, I was passing the exams, and promotions continue to come. Those days, even when you are part qualified, even when you are not fully qualified, you get fantastic jobs because accountants were not many. When I became a member of ICAN, my number was 2545, indicating the number of chartered accountants including those who were late, so you were in hot demand, unlike now when there are many chartered accountants who have no jobs. In those days, if you are an employee and not pleased with your employer, give him six months, and you will get another job.

His investment instincts started early in his life. Each time there was a surplus, rather than embark on a spending spree or travelling abroad for the holidays, he would give it to a stockbroker. The results today are evident around him, for despite being a retiree, he is very comfortable.

"A lot of people don't see employment as something that is going to end up one day and they are just enjoying themselves, going on holidays and spending money and when the job ends abruptly, you get a lump sum as gratuity which may not last you long, as that is not the best time to start investing. You start investment the day you start working. There is nobody whose income is so small that he cannot invest.

"Even if you put it in a savings account, if it's growing, you might think of putting it in a deposit account and later on, you might think of buying some stocks. If you have some good money, you might think of investing in properties and then you would have a good future that is less arduous, not depending on the children, because no matter the level of education you give them, they will have their own problems and challenges which they would have to satisfy first.

In as much as investing in stock is a good decision, he advises that one must have to define one's investment objective: that is whether its short, long, or medium term. "If you are talking of short term, stock is not the place for you. You can go and look for Treasury bill or you can put your money in fixed deposit. But when you have money that you can spare for two to four years, then you can go for stock. If you buy a stock today and you want to sell it tomorrow, you will incur a loss on it. Your stockbroker will charge you a commission for buying it for you, when you are still going to sell it tomorrow, you are selling it at the market rate and they are still going to charge you for selling it for you. So, you might have paid two commissions, making you to have less than you invested. But if you can leave your investment there to grow, the sum you invest might double.

Another salient issue he said is: "You need to be financially literate to trade in stocks, you don't need to be a chartered accountant or a banker but you need to understand financial information so that you can see the fundamentals behind each company to really understand where you want to put your money. Some companies will come and raise funds in the capital market and that will be the last you hear from them. If you are not financially literate enough, there are investment managers and there are mutual funds, who take the right decisions that you are supposed to take yourself. They know the right time to buy and the right time to sell. Most banks have mutual funds, if you don't have the time to monitor your investment yourself, mutual funds is the best for you."

Even though during their time, qualified people had many opportunities at their beck and call, he advises the young qualified jobless accounts graduates of today to be dynamic and think beyond being a bean counter.

"Yes, your training is in accountancy but there are a number of other things you can do. There are a number of other opportunities; you yourself can become an employer of labour by finding something to do for yourself. There are people that engage in livestock farming and lots more. Even when you don't have a big sum of money as capital, there are still a lot of things you can do to generate income no matter how small. There are people that go from house to house to organise people who do clean up for people," he said.

And for the notion that most accounts husbands are miserly, he said: "It is about you having an understanding partner who knows that whatever you are doing is for a greater tomorrow and for your children. What women do not like is if the money they don't get goes to another woman. But when they know that you are faithful to each other and she could see what you are doing out of it, then there would be no problem."

Now, beyond the family circle, he draws the line between being prudent and miserly: "Being prudent is not necessarily being miserly. You can be nice to people, some people even behave miserly to themselves; they don't dress well. That is not the kind of things that we are talking about. Being prudent is you having an abundance of life to enjoy a greater tomorrow. You don't say because you want to save, you don't eat good food or do some things for yourself. As creatures of God, charity should be a part of our lives. You may not do it in a big way, but in some little ways acceptable to God. To be miserly is not the right thing but at the same time you have to be prudent and know where your money is going. Be sure that you are spending for a just cause and give value for it."

Akinlade's only regret was that he did not retire earlier than when he did. But even at that, he says, it is neither here nor there, as according to him, "There are people that get out much earlier and they run businesses and their businesses collapse and they start looking for jobs again." God's blessing, according to him, is very important in whatever we do. But he gives thanks to God.

To the regulators of the capital market, he said they have more to do in order to ensure that the public companies that come to raise funds at the capital market are held accountable. And government, he stressed, should try to protect the ordinary investors who are a minority and not part of the management or board. They should be there as their mouthpiece. Their supervisory roles on the companies should be improved upon.

For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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