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Profiles

No Silver Platter In My Wealth Journey

Rina Karina-Hicks
Rina Karina-Hicks. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Rina Karina-Hicks is a corporate finance analyst and the operations director at Faida Investment Bank, a finance coach, a lover of theatre and an avid runner, mostly in the forest for leisure. Because her professional core and passion is finance, she recently started a YouTube channel on money (“Money Wise with Rina Hicks”) and wrote a book. She has previously served as a board member of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Enablis East Africa, a Canadian-based organisation that supports entrepreneurs. JACKSON BIKO met her at her parents’ home on Nairobi’s Kiambu Road.

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You wrote a book about creating, growing and preserving wealth, do you think people will say, “what is Rina telling us about growing wealth when she came from a well off family and had a good headstart?”

Did I have a headstart? My parents don’t just give us anything! My God! I bought my car from my mum. I paid every coin and it was at market rate. I don’t get handouts, never have. I ate a piece of bread from the bin when I was in university because I didn’t have money. So, no, I wouldn’t say that I was handed anything.

Do you have to be wealthy to write a book about creating and preserving wealth?

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I struggled for years before I wrote the book. I asked myself, ‘How am I teaching people how to make money and I’m not on this journey myself?’ My mum always encouraged me to write a book about money because I used to write for a finance magazine at some point. She would call me her finance coach. Billionaires write most books about wealth and that didn’t inspire my confidence much. (Chuckles). It took me six years to write it. I struggled because I was also raising children. But the question I asked myself was; What am I talking about? I didn’t write anything I haven’t done before and I didn’t say anything just because I have made it. There are principles that are applicable when you make Sh1 million or Sh2 billion.

Are you wealthy?

Am I wealthy? (Pause) I’m on the journey to being wealthy and I’ll tell you what I define as wealth. Wealthy is when you have sufficient money for two things; purpose and expenses. I’m not yet there, I’m still on the journey to create personal income streams that will be sufficient for those two things.

What are you currently chasing in life?

Wow! (Thinking). Fulfilment. I don’t conform. I’m not the typical investment banker or entrepreneur, I follow my heart. So, I do very many things. I desire to have a lot more Africans, young Kenyans understand how to manage the finances.

I’m also a mum and a wife and I try to spend a lot of time with my children. They form a huge part of my time and so I’m also chasing relationship with them. And that’s a big one. I moved from a house that we owned to another that is right next to my office so that I can be with my children every time they need me.

What’s the most difficult part of doing what you do?

I look young for my age {41}, I’m a woman, and so as soon as I walk into a room I’m dismissed. I can see it in the eyes of the men that I sit in meetings with. And because I’m not a celebrity that they have seen on TV and a name that they are aware of, they initially don’t take me seriously. I always have to prove myself.

But I’m vocal. I never keep quiet in meetings. I ask questions even if they are supposedly dumb. I never leave a meeting without saying something. When I speak in those meetings, I realise that their perception of me changes. You have to speak up otherwise people will leave with the impression of you they came with.

Your father being who he is [Bob Karina], do you find that you have had to stand in his shadow and have to explain and qualify your space in these rooms and meetings?

No. Because I promised myself soon after finishing university that I would not let him get me a job. What he did though, was to organise meetings with different CEOs so that I could understand what they did. I decided I was going to look for a job myself later. I worked for 3Mice, I did theatre for a bit, I was a choreographer and an assistant production manager, and I worked with Eric Wainaina on a musical. Then I thought to myself, ‘OK, I need to be serious about life.’ I’m a bit of a creative and so I’m a dreamer, so I had a conversation with my parents about getting into the financial sector and they said ‘why don’t you join Faida and help us build it? I joined as a peer not an employee. My dad has immense wisdom and experience and he is successful but I don’t feel like I’m in his shadow. I came as a professional, someone who adds value.

If the world was to end today at 6pm, what will you be most proud of?

That I did my best with my children, with my marriage and with my work. That I gave it my all.

What will you regret?

(Pause) Honestly, I can’t think of any. Maybe I’m being fake but I honestly don’t have any regrets.

What do you struggle with when it comes to relations with money?

It’s a good question. I’m a dreamer and that’s not a very good thing. My husband is a planner, which has helped me see that dreaming is not a great thing when it comes to money. (Laughs) You know I have put a deposit for a house without telling my husband, and committed both of us without really thinking through to the end because I’m a dreamer. So, my relationship with money is ah! money can be found.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as a 41-year-old?

(Thinking) I don’t know really because I’m a lot more confident now, and I just don’t care. This is a product of maturity more than it is about age because I know there are 42-year-olds who aren’t sure of themselves. Or 50-year-olds who still don’t know who they are. So, as I’ve grown, I used to care a lot what other people think. I still care but not as much.

Describe your life at 51.

I don’t know whether I should say, my mother will cry. (Laughs) But I will not be at Faida.

I’ll still be a shareholder, a director but not full time. I want to be able to teach and coach more.

If you were to have a superpower- walk and see through walls, read minds, fly, be immortal- what would you do?

I would want to have healing power. That I touch you — your heart mostly — and you heal. Because many people are hurting and I’m a feeler. I empathise and I am actually relational. I don’t have many friends, but I know many people. People are hurting, committing suicide and going through illnesses that are from hurt. I would love to just touch them and they’re healed. (Laughs)

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