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‘Women need to start building generational wealth’

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
10 September 2022   |   4:07 am
Oma Ehiri is a communications and branding specialist, who currently serves as the Head of Communications for SFS Group, an investment conglomerate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Covenant University...

Oma Ehiri

Oma Ehiri is a communications and branding specialist, who currently serves as the Head of Communications for SFS Group, an investment conglomerate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Covenant University and a Masters in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.
With over a decade experience in communications, she is specialised in digital marketing and has extensive experience working with a wide range of brands in the public sector, non-profit, fashion and beauty, luxury and finance industries.
In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she speaks on her passion for ensuring that more young people, especially women, embrace investment opportunities.

How did your breakout into the communications and marketing industry happen?
My journey into the communications and marketing industry dates back to 2012, when I published my first article on my blog, SoTectonic. I started writing about my work as a technical assistant who was actively involved in some of the social works being done by the then Office of the First lady of Ogun State and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Millennium Development Goals. Shortly after that, I took up the role of features writer at Genevieve Magazine, which was my first shot at writing professionally. I went on to write for a few more publications while actively building my blog.

In 2014, I started a hair and beauty business, which became the foundation of my exploration into communications and marketing as I single handedly started the Instagram account for the business and began to actively build its following and engage the community there. This experience first exposed me to social media management and digital marketing. And then, I realised the power of communications as a bridge between a brand’s potential and its eventual success.

I went on to work with several small businesses, many of which I was responsible for putting together a communications strategy. I also started working with a global brand strategist who was responsible for the market penetration for some of the foreign luxury brands in Nigeria. She let me handle media invites, publication of press releases, distribution of swag bags and post event follow-ups. Then, talent management came and again, communications at play.

All this time, I was building what will become a wholesome communications and marketing background. I was researching, taking courses, learning, and evolving until 2019, when I officially took up the role of Communications Manager with SFS Group.

How advantageous is SFS Fund to Nigerians?
The SFS Fund is exactly what every individual needs – an investment product that allows you not to lose your capital, but rather offers you more than the interest you will typically get from a traditional bank. The interesting thing is that there are no charges and the flexibility it offers makes it ideal for anyone to make withdrawals whenever they want. So, the bank account becomes an expense account while SFS Fund becomes a truly savings account.

We started the digitisation of the SFS Fixed Income Fund with the web app and after watching it grow and become largely accepted by our existing clients, it became imperative to launch a mobile app which makes it even more convenient to access your investment on the go.

Do you think it is imperative for people to start their investment journey and why now?
I wish I started as soon as I had pocket money from my parents; I probably would have been a multi billionaire now. It is imperative that you start investing even before now, because you need to form that habit. I am lucky to have an accountant as a father; I did learn some basic money lessons that have shaped the way that I interact with money. There is also the power of compounding. If you save N5,000 every day for 10 years, imagine what you will get and then keep that habit up for another 10 year and it just continues to grow. So, if you can, start an investment account for your unborn children. Give them a better start than you had.

Share with us some of the challenges in your line of work?
As a communicator in the financial industry, the major challenge that I face is the proliferation of financial institutions, some of which have defrauded several Nigerians, thereby making it difficult for the real brands to have a level playing field. We are now faced with doing a lot more before we can earn the trust of the people whom we hope to serve.

As a communicator, I will say that one of the challenges that we face is intergenerational connection. When you serve a brand, there is the likelihood that they have products that speak to different generations. Being able to create communication materials that each generation can connect with is not an easy task. However, being in touch with each generation, researching and keeping up with the trends and the networking will help.

Another challenge will be measuring returns on investment. In this time and age, data is king. If you cannot track and measure the success of your campaign activities, you are leaving room for the assumption that you are not contributing to the company’s bottom line and probably not a strong value to the organisation. What I have learnt to do is, try as much as possible to set clear goals and establish the metrics by which we can measure.

What are the opportunities that you see in the investment space in Nigeria?
Right now, I will say real estate is the major opportunity, but this is considered a big ticket, especially for anyone who is just starting out with investment. You need to build your investment reserve. Accumulate funds that will empower you financially to diversify. And I say this, especially to the Gen Zs who are the future.

A lot of financial institutions are seeking to create products that speak to them. While cashing out fast may seem rather attractive, it is very likely to be yet another ponzi scheme. So, I encourage them to be patient in their desire for financial freedom. Start small, build as aggressive as you can and then diversify. That is why we encourage parents to open minor accounts for their children.

How are you working to bridge the gap between investment and wealth creation among Nigerians, especially women?
I wish that I were more exposed earlier to the amount of insights and knowledge that I now have about investment and the role that it plays in building wealth. And the best place for that to have happened was probably while I was in secondary school as a boarding house student or in the university. These are formative years when young minds can be exposed to financial literacy within a safe and controlled space, since the school authorities have the responsibility of doing their background checks about investment companies and the products that they offer before allowing their students to explore.

Since I wish I had that experience, I want to be able to give others that opportunity so that they are better at managing their finances and building wealth.

What leadership qualities do you feel are required in your pursuit of excellence?
Diligence and commitment to continuous learning; I have been a firm believer that to excel, I must give my best in all that I do regardless of remuneration.

So, whatever it is that I put my hands on, I stay committed to it, striving to attain positive results. I want my career to be a source of inspiration to women and girls, demonstrating that they can not only dream, but also achieve everything they want.

Are you satisfied with the number of women who embrace investments?
Are we at 100 per cent yet? The answer is No. So, irrespective of the statistics on the number women who have embraced investment, I will not be satisfied until every woman embraces investments. Investing is the easiest way to build wealth or multiply wealth. I know that women have what it takes to be great money managers, but it goes beyond savings or building emergency funds.

We need to start doing more and building generational wealth. We must invest to give our children a better start in life. We may not be aggressive investors, but we can sure take advantage of mutual fund investments and build the investment reserve.

In addition, if we embrace investment, it becomes easier to pass on that legacy to our children from a young age. When a woman is pregnant or has a child, she is the one that is very likely to receive monetary gifts from loved ones for the child. It becomes our responsibility to push for an investment account to be opened for that child and start with majority if not all the funds being gifted when they are born. If the woman hasn’t bought into investing, it becomes a lot harder to convince her to do so for her child. Having a savings account is good, but the real game changer is a high yield savings account or an investment account.

What advice do you have for young females who intend to build their careers in marketing communications?
Be confident and committed to continuous learning. Understand that what you do is of value to every organisation that you find yourself in. Let it show in your output, irrespective of your career stage. Start where you are, getting every skill that you can, because most of it may be what you need to excel.

Connect with other people – network. Now, with activating campaigns, know that not every campaign is the same and just because it is working for a particular product doesn’t mean it will work for another product. So, when you try and fail, it is a learning curve. Learn from it and strive to do better.

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