Tomie Balogun is an investment expert on a mission to teach young working professionals how to take advantage of the power of many and start investment clubs. Her career spans three industries: management consulting, telecommunications, and financial technology. She recently published ‘Investment Clubs’, a book that teaches you about using money as a tool and “how to create wealth beyond your pay-cheque by investing with others”.
When I first read Tomie’s book about investment clubs, I thought, oh my God, I’ve been slacking with my money. I immediately told my friend we needed to transition our 4-year old ajo group into an investment group. Many of us only start figuring out what to do with money as young adults, and we don’t always get it right in the beginning. Tomie was not an exception.
“The first time I was aware of anything investment-related was in my second year of college,” she says. “A lot of banks were consolidating and doing IPOs, so there was talk amongst my friends. Because of the buzz, I bought 11,500 worth of a bank’s shares. I bought and forgot about it.” You’d think with this early start, Tomie immediately had money management and investment figured out, but like most of us, it didn’t come to her intuitively. “I went on to serve in a bank and was earning a lot as a corps member but I can’t remember spending it on anything tangible. Because I worked in a bank and needed to look the part, I spent my earnings on bags and shoes. Once service ended, I got my first full-time job and I still didn’t start investing then.”
It wasn’t until a few years later, when it was time to begin her MBA that reality hit Tomie. “I realized that for the next two years, I wouldn’t be earning an income,” she says. “Not only that. For the years I had been earning, I hadn’t been investing. With that reality check, I knew I had to make up for lost time. The best way to do it was by investing with others. So, that’s how I joined an investment club.”
An investment club is a group of people who come together to pool their resources and then invest it in assets or business projects.
Put Your Money To Work
When there’s talk about investing, many people think you have to be rich to do it,so they’ll start to do so once they have money. Tomie Balogun is quick to explain that investing is not only for the rich, and it is a long-term strategy to creating wealth.
“People want to get rich in 2 or 5 years but if you look at stories of truly successful people, they built over decades,” she says. “I often ask, how much do you need to live a good life? People say billions. There’s a false sense that we need so much, but we don’t need it. Hoarding money is scarcity thinking. You don’t need to pile and stash. Get clarity on what your why is, and what you need to have a good life.” Tomie emphasizes that investment is a process—one that requires discipline and commitment. “Start with your why. Then take steps towards checking your expenses and investing,” Tomie advises. “Take baby steps. There are mutual funds you can start with N2,000; then add to consistently. When it grows, you can take it out and put in other things. If you put your money in a business and see it grow and be sustained for decades, that’s a legacy. That’s enough. Investment is not a product. It’s a plan; a path to a destination.”
“I find that there are many people who have been working for years, yet have no financial security. So they can’t just quit to do an MBA, or even quit because they’re in an unhealthy work environment,” she says as she makes a case for investing. “In the end, the real thing most of us need is the freedom to make choices. Investing allows you to do that. I never want to feel stuck, and that is why I invest. It’s not about piling billions of money in an account. It’s putting your money to work.”
Years after she first started investing, Tomie has learnt a lot, yet she insists that she is still on a journey. “I can’t say I’m totally free, but I’ve learnt that investment is long-term,” she says. “My story has evolved a lot from starting an investment club to stepping out of paid employment. It has given me freedom to make choices.”
From Blogging to Book Writing
When Tomie started her investment journey, she did a lot of reading and trying out what she learnt. Soon, she began blogging about it. “I was sharing what I learnt, implemented, and experienced,” she says. “Initially, I started blogging about investment because I wanted to blog and it was something interesting happening in my life. I was talking about the times we lost money, made mistakes, made money, and learnt how things worked. Then, I started getting many emails and questions. I realized it was something people wanted to learn about.”
Since then, Tomie Balogun has used various platforms to teach people how to run investment clubs. The latest avenue is her book ‘Investment Clubs’. Besides her new book, she frequently teaches workshops, something she started because she saw a need. “A friend started an investment club and I saw they were making the same mistakes mine made. They shouldn’t have to, I thought, so I started teaching workshops to share the knowledge I had,” she explains. “Around that time, I was going into a confusing period. I had left my work in telecoms. A friend told me about a coach and I worked with the coach for 6 months. It was in that space I began to think about my process and long-term goals. I learnt that Stephen Covey had taught the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for 18 years before he made it into a book. That was an eye-opener”
Those moments of gathering knowledge and self-reflection helped Tomie to grow. “I continued to write and evolve. And of course I had to get certification,” she says. To make information about investment clubs easily accessible, Tomie decided to write a book. “When I was struggling with settling on the book title, I had to distill my vision for the book. I remembered something Jumoke Adenowo said. When you get into the vision, there’ll be provision. When I sat to think about my vision, I knew what I wanted was for people to be able to collaborate to build wealth. It had to be a book about how to invest together. When I think about the book, I want it to be something that I build on in future. It was clear the title would be Investment Clubs,” she says. “I wanted it to be a classic book, one that people can continue to refer to for years because it helped them to get into investing. After I sent it out for reviews, someone said to me that she immediately told her sisters they have to start investing together because it’s the only way to ensure they all grow. For me, that’s what I want to achieve with the book.”
Why Investment Clubs?
“You go farther together,” Tomie says. “If you look back, African women were strong. They started the cooperative societies, ajo etc. putting their money together to build businesses and educate their children. These are things we’ve always done. However, I feel like we grew up having our mothers do those things but didn’t think actively about how to make it happen. They didn’t pass it on to us. I don’t remember them sitting me down to talk about money. They taught us about not depending on men, but they didn’t teach us about money and how to manage or make it. We have to write our own story and determine how our lives work. This is the Internet and social-media age, so thankfully there’s access to a lot of information.”
Beyond that, Tomie recognizes that there is a problem of access, and that is why she advocates leveraging on the power of Investment clubs. “Especially in the Nigerian society, a lot of the investment opportunities are targeted at the elite class. So even with so much information, many still don’t know how to invest,” she says. “I saw that gap and I wanted to fix it. That is why collaboration is helpful. There are opportunities you may not have access to as an individual, but if you collaborate, you can take advantage of those products. That’s why I’m so big on people collaborating.”
Tomie Balogun is a big advocate of investing in small businesses to help them grow. “One of the key things I see is that people take a lot of money out of the country to spend; the money is in the hands of a few. International investment companies come into this country to invest because they get good returns. However, when they sense any uncertainties, they pull their money out and it affects the economy,” she explains. “We ourselves have to invest in our economy so that things are more stable. So that small businesses have access to capital and can grow. Seeing all of that makes me want to make a difference with money, to invest in small businesses and help them to grow.”