If there is a single moment of disappointment when Abiodun ‘Dave’ Akerele FCCA talks about the way he used his ACCA Qualification to move from Nigeria to Canada, it comes when he mentions football. He was a centre forward and, by his own admission, pretty useful as a youth player.
In fact, though now a successful accountant for a major securities regulator in Ontario, Akerele once saw his future in the ‘beautiful game’.
‘When I was younger I anticipated I was going to be a soccer player,’ he recalls. ‘Because of the challenge of my professional studies and investing in my education, I lost track of that ambition. But I don’t have regrets.’
‘I wanted to see what the transformation would be like as the financial industry evolves’
Senior corporate reporting accountant, Ontario Securities Commission, Toronto, Canada
Senior corporate reporting manager, Westlake Chemical, Ontario, Canada
Senior finance manager, Resolute Forest Products, Ontario, Canada
Financial controller, Cormer Group, Manitoba, Canada
Financial controller, FSDH Merchant Bank, Ibadan, Nigeria
These days, Akerele’s sporting activities are limited to playing football for fun and a little bit of golf. And he has resisted experimenting with ice hockey, Canada’s national obsession: ‘I don’t want to break my bones,’ he explains.
But it would be difficult to see how Akerele would have time for sport in any case. In a few short years he has worked in real estate, investment banking, forestry, the chemicals industry and now regulation. He has crossed the world from Africa to North America, married and had two children. And all of it underpinned by ACCA qualifications chosen deliberately for their flexibility.
‘I wanted to increase my choices and promote my global relevance,’ says Akerele, reflecting on his decision to undertake the ACCA Qualification after being introduced to it by a friend. The accounting course also helped move Akerele’s mind to emigration. ‘I developed an interest in evaluating my personal risk profile and I saw being able to increase my choices as risk mitigation. So, I tried to create a plan for my professional and personal life.’
‘Keeping pace with changing regulatory requirements is a big task, especially in the derivatives market’
‘In all your professional engagements, find ways to demonstrate the knowledge obtained through your studies, work and practice. This will go a long way in building lifetime professional relevance.’
‘Take advantage of continuous professional development in consolidating observed knowledge gaps.’
‘Connect with colleagues who align with your goals. This will assist in synergetic professional development and a long-lasting learning experience.’
‘Always look out for safeguards and mitigations in situations of ethical dilemma, supported by independent, well-documented, open communication with those charged with governance.’
Akerele studied with ACCA from 2008 to 2010, the time overlapping with his studies for a degree in accounting and finance with Oxford Brookes University while in his home city of Ibadan in Nigeria’s Oyo state.
A move to the capital, Lagos, and spells as a financial analyst and corporate reporting analyst followed in consultancies and in real estate. Then came four years with FSDH Merchant Bank as a financial controller.
When his Canadian visa application was approved in 2016, Akerele was well established at FSDH and making the decision to leave a burgeoning career and his home country was tough. ‘It was very hard, but I was looking at the opportunity of expanding my choices in a form that was not restricted to a particular location, considering the world is trending towards globalisation,’ he says.
While Akerele admits that there were adjustments to be made, he has taken the move in his stride. His belief in diversity enabled him to ‘fit in and manage cultural shocks’, while his multifaceted work experience provided the bedrock for adapting to Canadian working life. ‘In Nigeria I worked in diverse industries, so that gave me a background of being able to fit into a new context,’ he reflects.
His first job in Canada was with Cormer, a parts supplier to the aerospace and defence industry. The following year he joined Resolute Forest Products as a manager in finance and operations, a change compelled by moving to live with his new wife. After forestry came a move to Westlake Chemical as a senior corporate reporting accountant. Then, last year, Akerele returned to financial services when he joined the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) as a senior corporate reporting accountant.
Strategic career boost
At the OSC – which is responsible for regulating the province’s capital markets – Akerele works on the financial reporting of revenues and expenses connected to securities registrations and issuance. It’s clear he feels the move is a strategic career boost.
‘Financial services are key in any economy,’ says Akerele. ‘I wanted to see what the transformation would be like as the financial industry evolves, especially considering that there are new regulatory areas of concern, like crypto and digital assets and blockchain.
‘Keeping pace with changing regulatory requirements is a big task, especially in the derivatives market and especially in those areas that were unregulated before.’
No turning back
Other challenges loom over the OSC. ‘It’s a period where capital market activities are high,’ Akerele says. ‘In fact, it’s at such a level I’ve hardly had time to deal with my personal life.’
But Akerele focuses on the upside. ‘It’s a way of consolidating knowledge for me because now I can see the drivers of capital allocation all across the country,’ he says. ‘I can see what regulatory innovation is and how a gap is closed. It’s a great experience to be part of.’
There’s no turning back for Akerele; the move to Canada has delivered. ‘The future is wonderful,’ he says. ‘I have a great family, I’m well settled in Canada and I also have a great career opportunity.
When he speaks, Akerele exudes a determined and ebullient optimism, a character trait driven in no small part due to his father, an engineer and meticulous keeper of records, who passed away when Akerele, one of four children, was 10.
‘It almost ruined my ambition, but part of what helped me was what I learned from him that gave me the courage, irrespective of any situation life presents, to fight my way through and come out successful,’ he recalls.
Akerele’s ACCA Qualification buoyed up his confidence. ‘ACCA is imbued with a high level of innovation, which exposes you to being creative. That’s helped me over the years, irrespective of industry, to contribute strategic ideas,’ he says.
‘When I’m speaking with top leaders, they’ve been able to see that I can contribute to a discourse in a meaningful and relevant manner. I’m always looking for the opportunity to make a difference.’
Number of public listed companies in Ontario
Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) revenue in 2021, 84% of which came from participation fees
Amount raised by the 31 initial public offerings in Ontario in the first half of 2021
Number of OSC employees
Amount paid to four whistleblowers who provided critical information in advancing enforcement proceedings