This CA from Nigeria, climbed the ranks quickly and became a CFO, but later quit his job to build myCFOng to help MSMEs grow
Ajibola Jinadu, a CA from Nigeria, climbed the rank quickly and became a CFO, but later quit his job to build an accounting and financial advisory services platform, myCFOng to help MSMEs grow.
- Hi, I am Ajibola Jinadu, a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) of Nigeria, and the founder of myCFOng, an accounting and financial advisory services platform.
- I was only eight years old when I heard the words-chartered accountancy, thanks to my father, who nudged me in that right direction.
- From getting a secondment to Deloitte USA to becoming a Group CFO of an IT consulting company, life after qualifying as a CA just kept getting better.
- Here is his journey.
My father could not become a CA, he made sure I was
Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria I was a very shy kid. Socialising and making new friends were not my forte. But when I began my chartered accountancy journey it all changed for good. The credit goes to my CA batch mates who stepped forward to bring me out of my shell.
It significantly boosted my confidence.
Now, coming to the question of “why did I choose to pursue CA?” well, it was my father who nudged me in that direction, unbeknownst to me.
He wanted to be a CA too when he was pursuing his education but could not make it due to personal reasons. Thus, he made it his mission to live his dreams through me.
When I was eight years old, he introduced me to chartered accountancy.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has a program that enables its students to Foundation Level, Skills Level, and Professional Level while still in college. I did just that and juggled my college with CA studies.
I remember my father helping me prepare for my CA exams. It was truly inspirational and wholesome.
Consequently, I qualified as a CA from ICAN in 2009.
The process was not easy. I had to sacrifice my social life for it and could not hang out with my friends despite being a teenager (I was 19 when I enrolled in the course). But completing it gave me a sense of fulfillment.
From Nigeria to US: Climbing the ranks at Deloitte
Even before I started my CA journey, I had my life as a whole planned out around the accounting and finance world. I had envisioned becoming a CFO of a large multinational company.
I knew auditing as a profile would help me build the exposure to become a CFO. So, naturally, after qualifying, I applied at all the Big 4 firms and secured a job at Deloitte.
I joined the firm in 2009.
Within the first year of joining, I conducted audits for five companies, across different industries. I loved every bit of it, as it gave me a bird’s eye view of those companies.
Exposure to different companies, and industries, and being able to gather a diversity of knowledge were two of the key reasons why I enjoyed auditing so much.
At the same time, I had this recurring thought that I was not good enough to work in one of the Big 4 firms (I was suffering from imposter syndrome). But the firm’s welcoming work environment and my lovely colleagues helped me overcome it.
Climbing the ranks became a lot smoother and in about four years, I was seconded to the US.
In 2013 I moved to Texas and started my Deloitte US chapter. The transition was quite smooth, owing to the knowledge of Hollywood that I obtained from watching TV. There was also no language barrier whatsoever since we speak the same language.
Although I struggled for about a month or two due to Texas’ extremely cold weather, I slowly got used to it.
As a senior auditor, I started learning about their ways of working.
The country and its work culture were far more advanced and progressive than I had imagined.
Returning to Nigeria
I stayed in the US for just two years, and yet it drastically reshaped my life.
The exposure to a different culture was overwhelming and it changed my perspective.
We had a diverse workforce consisting of a few Indians, a handful of Europeans, and some South Americans. I had a blast working with them.
But I needed to return to Nigeria for the advancement of my career.
Rising through the ranks in the US office meant I would have to acquire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. I was already a member of ICAN and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) thus I did not bother adding another badge.
I returned to Nigeria in 2015 and became an audit manager.
From Auditor to CFO
The funny thing is when I joined Deloitte my plan was to stay there for two years, get the Big 4 badge and move out. However, I enjoyed auditing and kept getting promoted every year thus staying longer than planned.
I knew it was time to focus on a career path that could help me become a CFO someday.
When I looked around for new opportunities, I had multiple offers and eventually, I was offered to be a CFO of a smaller organization.
I did not know if I was ready. I thought I was going to be a finance manager and work my way up. But the opportunity to be the CFO of a smaller company gave me the ability to really be in control. Hence I took it up.
I left Deloitte in 2017 to begin another journey.
Identifying a new opportunity
Surprisingly, the clients from Deloitte used to call me up to solve their problems even after I had resigned from the company.
It felt like I had the ability to help even more people who were looking for business and finance advisory services. I shook the thought off as I did not intend to start something of my own just yet.
When I moved to the next company, I discovered something upsetting. The clients from small businesses were hiring under-qualified accountants to take care of their finances. Their task was incomplete and filled with errors.
It made me realize “Imagine how many other small businesses are facing the same problem. Only because they do not have access to a proper finance person”.
With all my qualifications and years of experience across different areas of finance, I was in a special position to assist them in their business.
But what next?
I did not resign from my job just yet but started working on the idea of my business. I decided to create a virtual platform where small and medium-sized Nigerian businesses can connect with high-level finance and accounting professionals. With that idea in mind, myCFOng came into being in 2019.
I am the senior partner at myCFOng, with two other partners, working with me, though they have day jobs.
Challenges on the way
For anybody who has brilliant ideas and can help people out, it doesn't take much to start.
If you want to start a consulting business in Nigeria, it is as easy as it gets. You do not even need an office.
My big challenge was getting clients and getting people to trust us. At times the pricing of our products is quite minimal and people think it is too good to be true.
And we always have to convince our to be clients with evidence, that we set our company to add value to small businesses and not just to make money. This is why the service exists.
We explain to them, that while we are sacrificing in cost we will make it up with other clients.
We have a long way to go and I am confident in building on our mission to serve small businesses.
We offer various services but the most popular one is the virtual CFO service.
Small and medium-sized companies and some startups sometimes might not require a full-time CFO but they still need financial expertise.
The virtual CFO service is super-efficient. A finance professional would connect with the business owner over the internet and spend about two to three hours a week on their business. In fact, we have helped them cut down costs.
Another service that we provide is finance transformation. A lot of small businesses might think they do not need a certain type of software, but, they need to implement those for a better finance function.
We offer to transform their businesses through digitisation and automation. They are inexpensive contrary to popular belief.
Also, small businesses sometimes find it difficult to create the perfect pitch deck for their investors.
This is where we come in. We help small businesses prepare a perfect pitch deck, handle their business finance, accounting, and help them with business forecasts.
The potential of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria
I do not want to sound too negative, but the financial ecosystem in Nigeria is, just what it is.
Inflation is always on the rise here; millions of people are living below the poverty line and to top it all various political and economic issues are emerging every now and then.
But this is not just a point of concern for Nigeria only, it is present all over the world, though in varying degrees.
I know for a fact that there are several startups, and small business ideas waiting to be discovered. For example, the fintech industry is booming. Why is that? It is because it has hugely disrupted the traditional finance space.
Just like fintech, there is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs in the agriculture, power, mining, and steel industry. You just must figure out where to begin, and the rest will fall into place.
Over the years, I have seen a lot of investments coming in from China, the EU, the US, and Canada. It is clear that there are plenty of growth opportunities for the Nigerian startup ecosystem.
The knowledge that comes from being a true finance professional, is extraordinary and I have gained a lot of it over the past few years.
I do not think it would have been possible, to make such a trajectory had I opted for something else.
The most important thing I learned in my journey, is that you must keep learning. I know it sounds cliché but that is the truth.