Spotlight: Meet Bola Sol
Tell us a bit about your background By education, I am from a Mathematics & Finance background and graduated from university in 2014. By culture, I am Nigerian British and I live in Brixton where I have lived all my life.
I am a Financial Wellness Coach who is passionate about helping women come together to discuss money matters. I found that literally every time I was having a conversation about finance, I was having it with men and I felt that had to change! I want women to get their worth and be part of the conversation too.
You are passionate about discussing personal finances. What is the motivation behind this? I have always had a love for numbers. Growing up, I felt there were unspoken rules about money and personal finances in my family, but I did not know why. I wanted to understand why people felt pain when there was a lack of money. When you’re young you are not always fully exposed, so this led me to follow the numbers (or finance) game and see where does it really go? What does it actually get us? Does it equate to happiness as people say? Or is it the root of all evil as others may say — I wanted to find out for myself! My motivation is to get us to get to a more financially confident place. I feel that we are underrepresented in the finance and investment game. I say ‘we’ as a people and ‘we’ as women. I want to help drive that change in society.
Tell us about your finance podcasts — ‘The Last 3 Digits’; ‘Refined Currency’ and your new women’s group ‘Rich Girl Chronicles’? Refined Currency came first in 2015 and was a financial blog for women. Rich Girl Chronicles is a virtual digital membership program that is about discussing money and wellbeing. The more I explored my personal issues, the more I realised that financial wellbeing was intrinsically linked to personal wellbeing. It is true that money alone will not make you happy. I care about my family, my mental health and my wellbeing but I also care about being comfortable and secure — and money is an important element of achieving this. Rich Girl Chronicles is about defining your own story with money.
The Last 3 Digits is a podcast with me and two of my good friends speaking about money in a way that makes sense to all of us. It’s not a podcast about keeping up with the Jones’; it’s three friends who grew up with different life experiences who want to talk about wealth but want to do so subjectively and objectively. It’s a mix of laughter, love and money plus everything in between.
How do you manage your personal finances? I carry out serious audits. I have days, where I am like grabbing everything and looking through transactions, assessing my monthly subscriptions and direct debits to confirm whether I am paying for things I need. I treat it like a checklist; however, I only check this list about twice a month as it can become overwhelming. There is a lot of money anxiety in the air, especially considering events this year.
I talk to myself and ask myself whether I am happy with my current state of finances and if I am on the track I intended to be on. My audits are a way of me checking in with myself — How do I feel about my decisions? Will I regret it later or would I be happy? I currently use excel for planning and tracking (though I know it’s the old school approach). I have what I call a financial profile which I use in conjunction with my budget.
What is your attitude to savings and investing? I am a bigger investor than I am a saver. The interest rates are usually poor in the UK. I don’t see the value in saving unless it’s linked to a fantastic scheme that is contributing to your pension or purchasing your first home. I save mainly for ‘rainy days’.
I invest in different things but will focus on stocks today. I tend to have a maximum of 3–5 stocks in my portfolio. I tend to play the long game. I mix this up with funds, new stocks and old stocks. Before making a decision, I will check for things like the Market Capitalisation, EBITDA (if it is available), the Price-to-Earnings ratio; research into the CEO and the Executive leadership team because that’s how I begin to gain an understanding of their ethics. (e.g. have they exhibited racism or sexism? how diverse is the makeup of their Board & Management team and how many companies have they started in the past?)
What top tips would you give to young women struggling to control their finances? My two top tips:
Stop! My advice is to simply stop and look at your finances. Take the time out to figure it out. Time passes so quickly from the point of payday; it’s easy to forget to spend on yourself or invest in your future when you don’t stop to look at your finances and plan accordingly.
Get organised — If you are not organised in your life then being organised in your finances can be extremely difficult.
You recently featured in Forbes as a black British leader to follow. What is the importance of role models within our community? I feel grateful to have been acknowledged by Forbes, amongst so many people who I know and respect. We need to have role models and leaders within our community who can inspire the next generation to go on and achieve great things, but more importantly to understand the value of hard work in doing so. Role models are important because they keep you going another day; I personally share a lot of my story online and that is done with intention. I felt that as much as I love Oprah Winfrey, Dianne Abbot and Michelle Obama, people may think that they became successful overnight. However, the fact is that they didn’t and they have worked extremely hard and been through their individual journeys with ups and downs, to reach where they have reached in spite of their skin colour and their gender.
Who did you admire most growing up? My family members. My mother worked ridiculously hard to make sure that we had a good life. My older brother became an accountant, one sister an engineer and another a doctor. Having these role models in my household allowed me to know that I could become anything if I worked hard enough.
What are your interests outside of work? Celebrating my friends is important to me. The more I progress, I am very conscious that I do not want it to always be about me, but about ‘us’. I love sports, I used to be captain of the cricket club whilst I was a teenager. I am a huge fan of water sports and being outside in nature. I also love chilling out and having fun with my family and friends who mean the most to me.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself as being a family woman. I do not want to be someone who lets her work take over her life. I see my businesses running successfully but being able to take a back seat and manage my work virtually, ensuring I have a good work-life balance. I am also focussed on being a better human being!
Follow Bola Sol on Instagram and Twitter to keep updated on her work.