Here is the full interview:
Can we meet you?
My name is Motunrayo Ade-Famoti and I like to be simply called Mo
Can you tell us about your career journey?
I started my career in the United Kingdom. I studied law at the University of Sheffield. I moved to New York shortly afterwards to qualify as an attorney and moved back to London to complete my legal practice at Inns of Court, School of Law. I gained some experience, qualified as a Solicitor and then went on to complete my Masters in International Law at City University, London. I continued to practice Law in the UK and at the same time, I was investing in real estate.
In 2007, I moved to Lagos after getting married, worked in the real estate industry for a year and continued to travel back and forth until I decided to finally settle in Lagos in 2013. I started moneystewards in 2016 after over 17 years’ experience in the industry. In a short period of time we have opened offices in Lagos, London and Atlanta and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to do what I love and am passionate about.
Tell us about your marriage and family life?
I am married to Ade Famoti and we have two amazing children. We got married in 2007 and we are best friends. He has been my biggest supporter throughout and I am eternally grateful for marrying a man connected with Christ.
You are a lawyer, so, what led to MoneyStewards? Why did you choose to go into Real Estate?
I am a lawyer but at the same time an entrepreneur. Moneystewards specializes in foreign investments such as Stocks, Bonds, Forex, Commodities, Gold, Real Estate etc. We acquire and manage assets on behalf of investors.
I decided earlier on that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for just a salary (ordinary income). I needed to create a system that will enable me earn multiple streams of income and most especially make my money work for me (passive and portfolio income). In order to do that, I needed to learn about investments. I learnt and continue to learn about investment opportunities in multiple currencies and countries. I also wanted to protect the future value of my investments; consequently, I decided to focus on investing primarily in the global markets which protects me from currency depreciation and volatility.
What are the major challenges you have faced managing MoneyStewards and being into Real Estate?
With new businesses, you have to build your brand and so initially it was a challenge but in a very short period of time, people saw the uniqueness of what we were doing and wanted to invest with us. The second major challenge was running companies primarily based outside the country while being based here in Nigeria but I put together a world class team so it has worked out tremendously well. I really couldn’t ask for more. As per the real estate challenges, the major challenge we encounter is perhaps finding distressed properties at a discount. We buy these distressed properties at very low prices, renovate and sell for a profit.
Why do you think Nigerians don’t invest compared to other countries abroad?
I really believe that Nigerians invest, but we just have limited products to invest in. We don’t have nearly the amount of financial products and funding the developed countries have but I found out that is also slowly changing. Moneystewards has done a lot to educate people on alternative and foreign investments but I do admit we are still a long way behind.
Do you face similar challenges running your business in Nigeria and abroad?
Not particularly. For starters, I don’t have electricity problem. In addition, to sell a property in the UK or US is far much easier. The real estate industry is highly regulated and the realtors have to be licensed to sell properties on your behalf. There is also a central database that has listings of majority of properties for sale. I have been able to get an offer to buy an investment property within 24 hours of putting the property up for sale and close the deal within six weeks before. Being able to sell a property quickly is crucial because you can do multiple projects at the same time. However, human resources are much cheaper in Nigeria compared to |UK and US; this equates to possible bigger margins for the developer.
How do you manage marriage, family, parenting, and career?
I am blessed to have a supportive husband and family. I could never make it work without them. It can be challenging but I take it one day at a time.
What is your view about making use of support systems like housemaids?
You need to have assistance because you really can’t do it by yourself. I don’t hire or treat my assistants like housemaids. I call them sisters and bring the best out of them and so far it has been working out.
What is your advice to women who want to invest but their husbands are against such decisions?
I think those women should try their best to convince their husbands. You know him best so sometimes all it takes is a little patience and proper explaining. Whilst it’s tempting to invest secretly, nothing is worth destroying that trust and ultimately the bond in your marriage.
How long do you think investments can start yielding the desired profits in Nigeria?
Well it depends on the investment in question. Stocks, Treasury bills and real estate have different return on investment. I always advise people to have investments that have a 20 year plan, 10 year plan and 2 year plan. That way you have returns in the short term, medium term and long term.
As a CEO with your tight schedule, how do you relax or enjoy leisure?
I sleep, eat and exercise well. I relax by reading a good book and getting spa treatments sparingly and I love attending my local church.