Influential Women in Kenya: Florence Nyokabi is the Standard Chartered Bank head of HR responsible for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Building wealth: I started by identifying my purpose for investment which was informed by defining the kind of lifestyle I want to lead now and in my retirement. As part of the process, I take an honest view of my personal balance sheet and net worth every year, and I set the shorter term goals that I aim to achieve towards this broader purpose. In my investment journey, I have taken some measured risks, especially around the type of investments I select, such that some are high-risk, high-return; others long term, and others with capital.
Handling wealth: To me, wealth is not an end in itself but a means to an end. I started by defining the kind of lifestyle and values I wanted to live by, and am using wealth as a means to lead that lifestyle. For example, I want to achieve freedom, security, comfort, peace of mind, have fun along the way and help others by way of giving back. This is my motivation for building wealth.
Biggest money mistakes: I have had three main money mistakes – buying a house in an area that depreciated in value, copying the latest fad with respect to investment, and lending a substantial amount to a friend which led me to losing both the money and the friendship. Along the way, though, I have learned that one of the main money-related challenges women face is waiting too long to buy assets such as a house, fearing debts and failing to try again when we fail.
My saving method: I save by investing my surplus funds in near-cash instruments such as TBills, Fixed Deposits, Money Markets and shares in Saccos. I channel the funds on a monthly and quarterly basis. I believe this is the route women looking to save wisely ought to take. I have observed that many of us will leave too much liquid cash in non-interest earning accounts. This becomes a dead asset and a target for unplanned expenditure.
Biggest loss: I took a business decision that led the then company I worked for to lose Kshs. 2.5million. This was a learning lesson for me that no good crisis should go to waste. If I err, I’ll look at the mistake as an inspiration to learn what not to do. Mistakes should not signify the end. You must find a way to rise up, dust yourself off and try again, only much wiser this time.
If I were to start all over again: My first investment would be a house – not a fancy, black Mitsubishi Lancer aptly named Winnie. I would also seek advice from experts early enough. I would find a mentor in money management at an early age.
Women starting side-hustles: It might go both ways, depending on your ability to balance demands from your main job and the side business. Invariably, one of the two will suffer. In my case, I have a highly demanding job and therefore have always favoured passive investments.
Biggest money milestone: Investments that give me passive income have been my best milestone. I achieved this by applying a mix of personal savings and borrowing to access the investments. This never happens overnight. It’s a journey of continuous learning and delaying gratification. For example, right now, over 80% of my net income goes towards investment. My leisure habits are funded by the income out of those investments.
Making it in corporate world: You need a combination of being good at what you do, consistently delivering high performance, profiling yourself and showcasing your ability, building a network of professionals who will coach, mentor and vouch for you. Yet, I have observed that many of us sell ourselves short, underestimate our capability, value and talent, and fail to support each other in the growth journey through what I call PhD – “Pull her Down”!
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