I have worked all my salaried jobs in the telecoms industry and until the last four weeks, I wouldn't have thought getting my company a landline would be a very tedious task.

The frustration started with identifying which landline companies are still in business. Almost all the ones I used to know have gone out of business or switched completely to another business line. I had to go to NCC's website to pull records of licensed landline providers in Nigeria. Still many of them are no longer existing.

I tried contacting the few still in business and most of them did not pick their inquiry/support lines. Some's didn't even connect/ring. And many had GSM lines as their support lines. Quite an irony for a landline company.

In the end, I was only able to reach ipNX. 

They provided us with a SIP line that has the following pattern 01-631XXXX. It requires you have a good/fast and always-on internet connection. And since we use wireless internet providers, I decided to go for a wireless SIP phone. Little did I know what trouble I would face getting a wireless SIP phone. 

I walked round computer village. The sellers all had just the wired SIP phones. They said that's what people mostly bought. I even bought something else I did not originally plan to buy but as it is with computer village, if you walk around too much you are certain to see something you'll suddenly need. Bought a N63,000 scanner (used HP Scanjet N6310) with automatic document feeder to make scanning our training participants feedback forms faster than using the scanner on our Cannon all-in-one printer. At a point I was exhausted and began considering buying the wired SIP phone and a means of connecting it to a wireless network. 

I ended up, via chain of referrals, buying one at Allen Avenue area from a vendor who was not nice with the price. Kept telling me to take it or leave it, no price negotiation.

It was worth the trouble. The ipNX line is impressively dependable and very clear (excellent voice call clarity). It doesn't receive SMS. At first, it was a trouble reconnecting after a disconnection (due to internet outage or power outage to the phone box) giving SIP 500 error for hours. I contacted the ipNX support and they reduced the reconnection retry seconds which solved the issue.

The SIP line only allows one connection instance. Meaning that you cannot connect more than one SIP phone to the line. You'll pay a one-time set up fee and an annual connection fee. The calls are billed at a per-minute rates. You recharge the line via Quickteller and it is a prepaid line.

I am now married. I have stopped writing daily. I now have employees. I now do more business management and admin activities than technical activities.

Everything I have said in my previous posts that I would not do, it seems I have done.

It is not that I am married that made me stop writing daily. I have stopped writing daily months before I got married last December. The reason is because I now see how easily people misread things (in general, and not particular to things said/authored by me) and I am trying to optimize (focus more on very few deliberate things especially now that I am responsible for the success of the people who work with me).

One of the steps I am taking this year to live a more focused and balanced life is getting a vision board conspicuously displayed in our bedroom and filled with photos + contents that will inspire us (my wife and me) to creating the future we want.

The car and the house (with a swimming pool) are my wife's. 

I use it to daily bring to my consciousness my long term goals of building Nigeria's first truly online stocks brokerage firm and building Nigeria's most dependable robust investment analysis platform. 

I sneaked in a lot of motivational quotes to keep me daily positively energized. I also put in some short term goals -- passing my March CIS level 2 exams, passing my Microsoft Power BI 77-778 exam, building a training curriculum for the AFM certification exam, making training videos, restarting our monthly webinars etc.

I am also discontinuing consulting (focusing solely on training and mass market solutions) as it is the least productive use of our company resources -- time and talents. I wrote it there on our vision board.

My wife says I have used up the space on the vision board with barely any space left for her to put her vision guides. I couldn't resist leaving unused spaces on it. Will gladly rearrange and take down some of mine to make space for any she wants to add.

We also bought goal oriented daily planners, mainly to help my wife with her personal and professional development. We found out that unlike me, who follows no well laid out strategy and milestones in setting and attaining my goals, she needs a well illustrated plan with weekly micro goals that builds up to achieving the big long-term and medium-term goals she has.

I try to religiously fill my planner daily. It is a pleasant new experience. Never used a planner before, and the Simple Elephant Planner we bought, after reading a lot of online reviews and comparing popular options, is an amazing well-designed practical planner.

BTW, what do you guys think about the election postponement? 

It's a very saddening news I woke up to this morning. And it has affected our training classes scheduled for Feb 22-23 and March 8-9, 2019. 
A friend, who is a car dealer, is helping me get a car. My current 1999 Camry is making my life difficult, throwing up one fault after the other. He would be bidding for a car on copart.com and shipping it from USA to Lagos. So I decided to have some extensive clear-all-doubts meeting with him. 

After we discussed about the car, the number of weeks it would take to reach me, the total amount and if this direct buying is truly better/safer than buying already-in-Lagos tokunbo car, we got talking about vacation and traveling outside the country. 

He asked me where we went for our honeymoon -- Senegal -- and how much it costed. It costed us N182,000/person for a return flight to Dakar and the hotel was about N24,000/night. I thought it was a good deal as all the destinations outside West Africa cost more than double. And then came the shocker from him.

He has been flying to Dubai and South Africa way cheaper than we paid to Dakar. In fact, not too long ago, he took his family -- he + wife + little son -- to Jo'burg for N360,000 return flight. All three of them! I think it was Ethiopian Airline. And Dubai. He goes there cheaper than one typical pays to go to Ghana. He then explained to me how he does the bargain hunting.

He starts first with using TravelStart to get details of cheapest airline for the date and destination he has in mind. Also, he explained which months of the year are typically cheaper for most vacationing destinations.

You then note the cheapest airlines for that route and date. In the example screenshot above for a Lagos to Dubai return trip for March 2019: Egyptair is the cheapest followed by Rwandair and Ethiopian Airline. 

You go to their websites and make the search there. This will show you if there are cheaper flights around that period so instead of going on March 5 at $300 you can switch to March 4 at $230. Then most foreign airlines do special price drop promos.

He says he typically spend days and weeks hunting for airline promos and noting which airlines fly cheap to his preferred destinations. Still, if you are okay with flying to London at the same price you would have gone to Accra then you might not need to hunt for days or weeks. But if you are looking for crazy irresistible deals that make flying out of the country cheaper than some local flights, then you should start monitoring popular foreign airlines weekly to get in when they do special price promos.

For me though, vacationing just got cheaper and more doable factoring that I am now we. We can now have a special fund/account for promo vacation. When it reaches a good amount, we start hunting for deals.

Also, he showed me how to use booking.com to pick excellent and very affordable hotels. Plus tips on how to make the most of my vacation without paying for any expensive tour or package.

We bought exactly this model:

Package looks like this:

My wife (code name, H) heard about it in one of the pre-marital counseling course classes we had last year. A guest presenter in the class mentioned how much better and more functional a Halogen oven is compared to Microwave Oven.

I decided to do my own reading too. Went online and read about Halogen Ovens. Are they truly amazing or just a shiny new tool that does nothing significantly more than a microwave? Well, after hours and days of poring over dozens of articles online I came to the following conclusions:

  1. They have no health benefits over Microwave oven (so no luck if you are one of those who feel Microwave is radioactively killing us). More sincerely, both Halogen Oven and Microwave Oven have no health hazard. Yes, the way Microwave Oven heats food might make some meats taste like rubber but that's purely the meats' fault.
  2. Microwave is awesome for reheating cooked food. Does it more (energy) efficiently than a Halogen Oven. But it can't cook rice, roast chicken, fry chips (in a little oil, healthy way), bake or even cook beans. Halogen oven does these and more.
  3. Just like how people who use iPhone feel their lives are intertwined with their iPhones in a way that makes them treat it specially above how other phone owners treat their phones, so also do the many people who posted online about their Halogen Oven. Many say they no longer touch their Microwave and traditional ovens, that its easily their most beloved kitchen appliance.
  4. We definitely need one.
And so we went on Jumia and bought one. We went for the brand consistently ranked high on foreign review sites.

We made the order on 25 December, 2018 (Christmas day) and got the delivery today (7 January 2019). 

I have already used it to roast the New Year full chicken I got from my parents. It tastes great. Even H says I have got a knack for all things food making. 😀

UrBizEdge Limited is a leading business data analysis training and consulting company in Nigeria. We are looking at hiring a Social Media Marketing intern.

Job role:
  1. Managing our social media platforms -- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Blog. We have paid professional social media management platforms (Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Buffer, Upflow etc) which we will teach the intern to use.
  2. Manage the onsite chat tool on our website to engage prospective clients and guide them. Again, we will teach the intern how to do this.
  3. Create engaging and informative tweets and articles for posting across our social media platforms. We will teach the intern how to use professional content creation software and how to analyse performance/engagements.
  4. Follow-up on generated leads and earn conversion bonus. We will teach the intern to use the pipeline tracking and activity log software (CRM).
  5. Undergo our data analysis, financial modelling, business intelligence and other training we sell clients so as to be able to better communicate with leads and be more knowledgeable in data analysis.
  6. Manage our online presence and engagement tools. We will train the intern.

  1. First degree in any course
  2. Must be social media savvy and willing to learn to do proper digital marketing
  3. Must be very teachable, goal oriented and diligent
  4. Must be based in Lagos. Proximity to Anthony/Maryland is a plus, to avoid traffic stress that might impact work productivity.
  5. Good writing skills and grammar very important.
  6. Excellent team skills

  1. Base salary of N40,000 for the internship period of 6 months. 
  2. Health Insurance
  3. Internet and phone call allowance (monthly)
  4. Pension
  5. Performance bonus for every lead conversion

The internship is for a period of 6 months. After the internship, depending on performance, we convert the intern to permanent staff and higher remuneration (a mix of base and performance bonus).

Application Process:
Email your CV and cover letter to hannah@urbizedge.com and copy hr@urbizedge.com

In the financial modeling professional world, Financial Modeling Institute (FMI) issued certifications are the most visible and, perhaps, most rigorous. 

I have been teaching Financial Modeling since 2016 and have been creating financial/investment models since 2012. I have undertaken many very helpful training -- classroom training, online training and remote (but not online) training. The one that has most impacted my competence was a six months spread training sponsored and organized by Bloomberg. It greatly broadened my mind and exposed me deeply to the amazing Bloomberg Terminal. It formed the bedrock for greatly translating my technical knowledge to real world use. Armed with the Bloomberg Terminal, I was able to do jobs for clients even outside the country. My proudest being a 2 year consulting for a Canadian investment firm on building an investment portfolio return driver model that pulls data directly from Bloomberg Terminal and computes likely investment returns based on current values and trend of macro economic factors. 

I have also used these knowledge to develop tools for our Nigerian investment ecosystem, to make available data I easily get for foreign economies. I built a Microsoft Office app that provides you current and historical values of macro economic metrics (GDP, PMI, Oil Production volume, Inflation, Unemployment etc), Oil commodity price and Nigerian stocks data for free. I also built freely accessible Power BI dashboards of stocks performance data. Then I built a paid subscription based tool for accessing all the equities financial models, valuation analysis and market data we warehouse.

In a nutshell, the truth is that I had been preparing for the exam long before I knew of the exam. All my consulting and training experience meant that I met the Excel knowledge requirement and the accounting knowledge requirement. But there is a third requirement that I needed to learn from scratch. So if you are reading this, just have in mind that I didn't start from ground zero in preparing for the exam. I already got two of the three main requirements to passing the exam. Just that, interestingly, the Excel and accounting knowledge requirements are a lot easy to acquire compared to the third requirement: model structure. In fact, if you have used Excel significantly at work and have some accounting certification or intense training, you too would have met those two requirements.

So to the modeling structure requirement. 

All my consulting career, I had always modeled at a more top-heavy level. Meaning, I let the clients provide all the assumptions. I don't build depreciation schedules for them nor break down their revenue to unit price and volume (except for startups) nor equity schedule nor tax schedule nor debt schedule. The company in-house finance teams do all those and plug in their final figures into my model. I do working capital schedules, scenarios and all the other key breakdown/assumptions but in a way that they can replace with theirs as they seldom share with me all the data I need to make the best assumptions for them. My focus has been more of how to seamlessly integrate the model with their existing financial reports and planning/budgeting templates, create management level dashboards and put some level of access control. And be disposable. They (not just the CFO, so mustn't be scary or mammoth looking) should be able to use and update the models without ever needing to reach me.

The model structure required for the exam is a much more intense/granular one. You'll have to flesh out as schedules all the key input drivers on the financial statements. Also, you'll need to know how to handle issues not commonly experienced by private Nigerian companies -- equity capital raising etc.

Unfortunately, I underestimated how much study and practice I would need to master this more granular model structure. I kept chasing money and projects till it was one week to the exam. And then, I spent three days just to reproduce the solution to one of the practice samples. Three days to do what I am expected to do in 4 hours, and while looking at the answer! I now had three days to go and it looked obvious I was going to fail the exam. What my ego (overconfidence, as we call it in Naija) has caused! I quickly shut out every other aspect of my life besides sleeping, eating and using the toilet/bathroom. It became an almost 24/7 practice. I gradually shifted from panic mode to a more relaxed mode when I was able to take on a prior exam question without looking at the answer and finished in about 6 hours. Then it became a game of improving my speed.

The resources I used were purely the ones given on the the AFM webpage under the self-study section. Then I supplemented with the practice files they email all registered exam candidates. Interestingly, they were adequate even though not bulky (page-wise) at all. I think the most important factor is the study strategy one adopts. Best to take a study strategy that is spread over weeks and then do a very intense practice on the week on the exam so one is in the optimal operating zone to meet the strict time limit.

And that's been my experience. Thankfully, I passed!

If you are interested in our financial modeling training class, then here is the link to the registration details: https://www.urbizedge.com/FinancialModelling
On a super light note, I started the year looking like this:

And I am ending the year looking like this:

You would notice that I now look handsomer -- special thanks to expert advice in my life. Secondly, I would be getting more of those expert advice going forward. 

You would notice that I have stopped posting daily like I used to. It's majorly an experiment and then a precautionary measure. I have some very important goals in my life and I feel that to be able to meet them I need to cut down on as much activities in my life as possible. So I decided to see if my progress would be better if I cut down on daily posting -- since it takes a considerable chunk of my time daily. Then, I started thinking of the benefits of not having to talk about everything happening in my life. There will always be some miscommunication -- people reading wrong meanings to what I write. Not that I have issues with people misinterpreting me; the issue is that people might start acting in non-beneficial ways to me since they I bare out my life to them. 

But like I said, it's mostly an experiment. I hope to get back to daily writing someday. Just that I might be less unfiltered in my posts.

This year I learned to be less sure about things. I am now better at embracing the reality that I am not as relatively better than the average person as I used to think, especially in areas of business and investment. I wouldn't say I am humbler but that I have expanded my horizon, and now see clearly that there are very many many things I need to know.

So you can say I am more open minded. I now change my mind as open as it needs to change based on facts I have. I no longer first have a position or feeling to back, and then dig up facts to back it up or fight those in the other camp.

In very simple practical words: this year I got married to the most amazing woman in the whole world, I no longer work solo but as a growing team, I became a certified AFM (advanced financial modeler), I lost money in the stocks market and feel very good about it, I am more open minded and I did a lot of things people never expected I would do.

Praying 2019 would be greater!
I have been working hard on our stocks analysis platform -- www.nigeriamarketdata.com -- and some of the recent additions I made are some level of technical analysis incorporation.

Personally, I took a big hit in the stock market this year. I kept buying throughout the year even as stocks were going down. I did not pay too much attention to general buy/sell trends in the market. Actually, I have a disdain for technical analysis, partly because it's a big deal in forex (currency) markets and I have always been losing money in forex (currency) markets. All the fuss about support, resistance, candle patterns and so on looked too abstract and impractical to me. 

The amazing guys at http://tiameetup.com/ were able to make me start seeing where the practicality of technical analysis lies for a fundamentals addict like me. Got to say a big thanks to Adetunji Adeshina

The truth is that I am still a fundamentals guy and I don't regret buying throughout the year in stocks. I am as proud of the losses I have made this year as the bumper gains I made last year. The main difference now is that I pay attention to trends -- technical analysis -- and I will be less willing to catch falling knives. I invest month: I usually first take out my savings/investment from my monthly income and live on the remainder. Throughout this year all those monthly investments went to stocks (and ETFs). Going forward, I will spread the money more strategically across all my asset classes; when the stock market is trending massively downwards I will pause monthly inflow into it (except if some amazing deals pop up) and channel more into another asset class that is not evidently trending downwards (also not necessarily evidently trending upwards).

In tracking the stocks market trends, I have designed via Power BI a price and volume action tracker -- showing changes in volume activity and the very important 50 days & 200 days moving averages. You too can access this (for free) in the Power BI section of www.nigeriamarketdata.com 

On the side bar, you can select any company you want to analyse. And at the upper end, there is a timeline to specify the timeframe to analyse for. The upper chart shows the price plotted to the left axis and the volume plotted to the right axis. That way you can see when the market was most active for that stock and what direction it pushed the price. The lower chart shows the current price vs 50 days MA (moving average) and 200 days MA. With these basic technical data -- price, volume and moving average -- you can pull out useful technical analysis.

You can also analyse the entire NSE All Share Index.

Don't worry about the blood stains on the lower chart. I am still trying to figure out the reason for that. 

All these, I created by using Python scripts running on an Azure (cloud) server to store daily trade data on an Azure (cloud) database, then connect Power BI directly to that database with daily auto-refresh set. So without any manual intervention on my part, every day, stocks data is being pulled directly into the charts in Power BI.

If you go through some of my Power BI tutorial videos on https://www.urbizedge.com/Tutorials and https://www.urbizedge.com/PowerBI you will see how I created the core of this particular Power BI report.

Power BI is, indeed, an amazing data analysis tool for better decision making.

Join me today, on Cowrywise Personal Finance Series via this Whatsapp group https://chat.whatsapp.com/invite/CE6CTuwoOs816qeAs8wjVe at 7:00pm Nigerian time as I'll be sharing on how to leverage new platforms for investment.

Below are the slides I will be sharing. And as usual, I'll give very practical illustrations and tips that are Nigerian centric. See you!

Power BI is an amazing tool. I have used it to create amazing auto-updating dashboards for different reporting needs. You can view a couple that I made publicly available: https://www.nigerianelite.com/Shares/Analysishttps://community.powerbi.com/t5/Data-Stories-Gallery/Sales-Dashboard-for-a-Pizza-Restaurant/m-p/509025#M2208 and https://community.powerbi.com/t5/Data-Stories-Gallery/Nigerian-Stocks-Market-Analysis-Live-Report/m-p/175769#M850

Today, however, I will be showing you how to use Power BI to scrape data from a website and create a report/dashboard from the scrapped data. I will illustrate with AbokiFX.com data on parallel market FX rates for Nigeria. Effectively, you will be creating a report like the one below:

From an empty Power BI desktop file, do Get Data and pick from Web (under Other).

Follow through with providing the URL of the website to pick data from and selecting the table of data to pull into Power BI.

Do a couple of transformation on the data (except you are very lucky that the pulled data is already in a form that suits your report).

Create the report you want and publish.

You may also want to configure a scheduled refresh to make Power BI keep pulling new data from the website everyday.