“Women must start creating generational wealth” | The Guardian Nigeria News
Oma Ehiri is a communications and branding specialist, currently serving as Head of Communications for SFS Group, an investment conglomerate. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Covenant University and a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy from the University of Lagos.
With over a decade of communications experience, she specializes in digital marketing and has extensive experience working with a wide range of brands across the public sector, non-profit, fashion and retail sectors. beauty, luxury and finance.
In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she talks about her passion for getting more young people, especially women, to take up investment opportunities.
How was your breakthrough in the communications and marketing industry?
My journey in the communication 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 actively involved in some of the social works carried out by the Office of the First Lady of Ogun State and the Office of the Special Advisor to the Governor on the Millennium Development Goals For the development. Soon after, I took on the role of feature writer at Genevieve Magazine, which was my first chance to write professionally. I continued to write for a few other publications while actively building my blog.
In 2014, I started a hair and beauty business, which became the foundation for my exploration of communications and marketing as I single-handedly launched the company’s Instagram account and began to actively grow its subscribers and to engage the community there. This experience first exposed me to social media management and digital marketing. And then I realized the power of communications as a bridge between a brand’s potential and its eventual success.
I then worked with several small businesses, many of which I was responsible for developing a communications strategy. I also started working with a global brand strategist who was responsible for market penetration for some of the foreign luxury brands in Nigeria. She let me manage the media invitations, press releases, promotional bag distribution and post-event follow-ups. Then talent management came and again, communications came into play.
All the while, I was building what would become a sound training in communications and marketing. I was researching, taking courses, learning and growing until 2019 when I officially took on the role of Communications Manager within the SFS Group.
How beneficial is the SFS Fund to Nigerians?
The SFS Fund is exactly what every individual needs – an investment product that allows you to not lose your capital, but rather offers you more than the interest you would typically get from a traditional bank. What’s great is that there are no fees and the flexibility it offers makes it ideal for anyone to make withdrawals whenever they want. Thus, the bank account becomes a spending account while SFS Fund becomes a true savings account.
We started the digitization of the SFS Fixed Income Fund with the web application and after seeing it grow and be widely accepted by our existing clients, it became imperative to launch a mobile application that makes it even more convenient to access your investment on the go.
Do you think it’s imperative that people start their investing journey and why now?
I would like to start as soon as I got pocket money from my parents; I probably would have been a multi-billionaire by now. It is imperative that you start investing even before now because you need to get into this habit. I am lucky to have an accountant as a father; I learned some basic money lessons that shaped the way I interact with money. There is also the power of capitalization. If you save 5,000 naira every day for 10 years, imagine what you will get, then keep the habit for another 10 years and it continues to grow. So if you can, open an investment account for your unborn children. Give them a better start than you.
Share with us some of the challenges of your job?
As a communicator in the financial industry, the major challenge I face is the proliferation of financial institutions, some of which have defrauded several Nigerians, thus making it difficult for genuine brands to have a level playing field. We now need to do much more before we can earn the trust of the people we hope to serve.
As a communicator, I would say that one of the challenges we face is the intergenerational bond. When you serve a brand, it’s likely to offer products that speak to different generations. Being able to create communication media that every generation can connect to is no easy task. However, being in touch with each generation, researching and following trends and networking will help.
Another challenge will be measuring returns on investment. Data is king these days. If you cannot track and measure the success of your campaign activities, you leave room for the assumption that you are not contributing to the company’s bottom line and likely not of strong value to the organization. What I’ve learned to do is try as much as possible to set clear goals and establish the metrics by which we can measure.
What opportunities do you see in the investment space in Nigeria?
Right now, I’ll say real estate is the biggest opportunity, but that’s considered a big ticket, especially for anyone new to investing. You must build your investment reserve. Accumulate funds that will allow you to diversify financially. And I say this, especially to Gen Z who are the future.
Many financial institutions seek to create products that speak to them. Although fast cashing out might seem rather attractive, it is very likely to be another Ponzi scheme. So, I encourage them to be patient in their desire for financial freedom. Start small, build as aggressively as possible, then branch out. That’s why we encourage parents to open underage accounts for their children.
How are you working to bridge the gap between investment and wealth creation among Nigerians, especially women?
I wish I had been more exposed earlier to the amount of knowledge and knowledge I now have about investing and the role it plays in building wealth. And the best place for that to happen was probably when I was in high school as a boarding school student or in college. These are formative years where young minds can be exposed to financial literacy in a safe and controlled space, since school authorities have a responsibility to check the backgrounds of investment companies and the products they offer before allowing their students to explore.
Since I would like to have this experience, I want to be able to give this opportunity to others so that they are better able to manage their finances and build wealth.
What leadership qualities do you think are necessary in your pursuit of excellence?
Diligence and commitment to continuous learning; I firmly believe that to excel, I must give the best of myself in everything I do, regardless of my compensation.
So no matter what I get my hands on, I stay engaged, striving for positive results. I want my career to inspire women and girls, demonstrating that they can not only dream, but achieve anything they want.
Are you happy with the number of women embracing investing?
Are we still at 100%? The answer is no. So regardless of the statistics on how many women have embraced investing, I won’t be satisfied until all women have embraced investing. Investing is the easiest way to create wealth or multiply wealth. I know women have what it takes to be great money managers, but this goes beyond saving or building emergency funds.
We need to start doing more and creating generational wealth. We need to invest to give our children a better start in life. We may not be aggressive investors, but we can certainly benefit from investing in mutual funds and building up an investment reserve.
Moreover, if we embrace investing, it becomes easier to pass on this legacy to our children from an early age. When a woman is pregnant or has a child, she is the most 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 to start with the majority if not all of the funds being donated at birth. If the wife has not bought to invest, it becomes much more difficult to convince her to do so for her child. Having a savings account is great, but what really changes the game is a high-yield savings account or an investment account.
What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in marketing communications?
Be confident and committed to continuous learning. Understand that what you do is valuable to every organization you find yourself in. Let it show up in your production, no matter what stage of your career. Start where you are, learning all the skills you can, because most of them may be what you need to excel.
Connect with other people – network. Now with enabling campaigns, be aware that not all campaigns are the same and just because they work for one particular product doesn’t mean they will work for another product. So when you try and fail, it’s a learning curve. Learn from it and strive to do better.