Meet The Female Leaders Of Finance: “As individual women, it is so important for us to stand our ground and demand a high level of respect and professionalism, regardless of the situation.” with Folasade Ayegbusi and Tyler Gallagher

Tyler Gallagher
Jun 25 · 10 min read

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Folasade Ayegbusi, an Enrolled Agent, accountant, insurance broker, speaker, and business growth strategist who has helped entrepreneurs and small business owners save over $25 million in lost revenue, tax assessments, penalties, and interests over the last 12 months. Although she’s a financial powerhouse now, Folasade began life in very different circumstances. Growing up in an impoverished part of Washington, DC, she experienced eviction, car repossession, home foreclosure, and even hunger and homelessness. In the midst of those struggles, Folasade realized that she had the power to be in control of her own life and built an empire based on her desire for financial freedom. She is now the CEO of Suncrest Financials, which offers small business financial services, payroll, insurance, bookkeeping, tax preparation and personal coaching for business leaders.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?

My father was an accountant and from a very young age, he helped me see the power that this profession has in small businesses, large corporations, and even the U.S. economy. I worked at my father’s office in the summers and one day walking back to my neighborhood in Washington, DC, I realized that nobody there owned businesses. Nobody was talking about money. The only businesses we had were takeout places, a convenience store, and a candy shop. Beyond that, none of my peers’ parents owned businesses.

I grew up in an impoverished, predominantly African American community and I saw firsthand the struggles that people go through when they don’t have knowledge of the financial world. I was inspired to change that and decided to embark on a career path that would help bring financial literacy back to my community. I set out to change the way underserved communities think about money and business, and empower people to take control of their financial freedom.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

One of the most interesting and defining stories of my career involved one of business owners’ greatest fears — an audit by the IRS. I had been handling accounting work for this client for many years, so I knew their numbers were clean and in good order. However, the IRS had produced inaccurate numbers and the agent handling my client’s case threatened to “go to war” against us. My response was “let’s go” because I knew everything on our end was correct and verifiable.

My client was fine and everything was resolved, but this experience showed me how easy it is for business owners to get steamrolled by government agencies if they don’t have a qualified financial professional in their corner. Had I not been there to advocate for this business, they likely would have paid more than $100,000 worth of false charges that they didn’t actually owe, all because of an IRS calculating error.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I will be releasing my first book titled “The Entrepreneurs Guide to Using Accounting to Build an Amazing Business.” I’m excited about it because I’ve always told entrepreneurs that there’s a direct connection between where their business is now and how their numbers can be used to scale up and dominate their industry. I fully believe that the reason most small businesses fail today is because they overlook the importance of accounting. This book isn’t super technical — I made it accessible to all by breaking it down to the basics and relating the principles to practical situations experienced by most entrepreneurs.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes my company great is my diverse background in the insurance, real estate, and e-commerce industries. Having worked in these fields before diving into the finance world, I have a strong understanding of what entrepreneurs are up against. As a former real estate agent, I know what lenders are looking for when working with small businesses. As a former insurance broker, I’m well versed in what goes on in the mind of an underwriter.

I’ve also taken a student-minded approach to working with clients. With every new client, I see an opportunity to learn everything I can about their industry. I don’t just pop in, run their numbers, and leave. I take the time to fully understand the nuances of what they do, which allows be to see the bigger picture of how everything is connected.

And finally, my company stands out because I know exactly what my clients are going through. I’m an entrepreneur, too. I didn’t just go to a nice school and spend years working at a big name accounting firm. I know exactly what it takes to launch, sustain, and grow a business, so I can relate to them on a much deeper level.

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

Women have always been good at handling money, but I think the recent change occurred when women realized that their personal finance skills could directly translate to professional finance careers. Running a home as a mother or a wife — balancing budgets, finding savings, making dollars stretch when they need to — isn’t much different from running a business or working in finance. The principles are all the same. Women are now taking that practical financial experience and combining it with the education and training necessary to challenge traditional norms break into the world of finance. And it’s having a huge impact. The industry was stagnant for a long time and now we are seeing new ideas. Women today know that they are capable and qualified, they aren’t afraid to take risks, and we’re not taking ‘no’ for an answer.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?

As women, I think we’ve all experienced how tough it can be when men don’t take us seriously as their professional equals. As individuals, I think men need to respect that we are there to do business, plain and simple. We should be treated no differently than male colleagues and normal professional boundaries should be upheld at all times. As individual women, it is so important for us to stand our ground and demand a high level of respect and professionalism, regardless of the situation. We know that we are just as smart and capable as men, and we need to make sure that message is heard.

Companies can play a huge role in advancing women to positions of power by proactively protecting the rights and comfort of women at all levels. So much attention is paid to appearance-based qualities of women that men never have to deal with. Women get judged about trivial things that have nothing to do with job performance like what our hair looks like or how we dress. We’re either too conservative or not conservative enough, too feminine or not feminine enough. Companies need to have policies that acknowledge that we are all individuals. Women should be free to wear a cute blazer the same way men are free to wear a cute tie, without that choice being connected to some larger narrative about our sexuality or gender.

Additionally, companies need to give women room to succeed, especially in the finance industry, which is so deeply structured to prioritize male power. Women bring distinct and valuable assets to the table and companies should focus on creating positions that showcase those talents.

And on a more fundamental level, society needs to finally understand and acknowledge that women contribute so much more to our world than what is seen on the surface. We can be moms and strong business leaders. We are masters of juggling our personal and professional lives and those skills can help grow and diversify businesses and the finance industry.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

I would encourage them to read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter to teach them the importance of financial literacy how to improve their own financial intelligence. I’d also give them practical examples of how money really works. I’d show them how to calculate their own living expenses and guide them in creating a detailed budget of their income and expenses.

Another important exercise would be showing them what it takes for me, as a parent, to support them and their lifestyle. Understanding how much is really takes to raise a child can be a big reality check for most people. To keep them focused on the future, I’d advise them to write down their goals regarding what kind of life they want. Do they want to own a home? Do they want to be wealthy? Do they want to travel? By clearly outlining their ideal life they can start to understand the steps necessary to make that happen.

And finally, I’d strongly push them to really evaluate what it takes to achieve their goals. While going to a top-tier school and getting a 4.0 GPA might work for some people, for others, it might make more sense financially to do well in school but focus more energy on outside ventures that can help their career in the long run.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

For me, there wasn’t just one person; it truly took a village. My father strongly influenced my success because of his experience in the accounting industry. He exposed me to his business from a young age and showed me the power that comes with understanding how money works. He also instilled in me the importance of financial literacy. He challenged me to rise above my surroundings. I remember sitting with him on our street as he pointed out drugs deals and criminal activity. He told me that would be my future if I didn’t find a way to get an education and take control of my financial independence.

My mother reinforced his message by telling me that I could be anything I want in this world if I worked hard enough. If I said I wanted to be the president of the United States, she said I could. If I said I wanted to be rich, she said I could. If I said I wanted to be an Olympian, she said I could. She helped me understand that my success was up to me. I also saw the struggles she faced to enable my success. She went hungry so I could eat, and her sacrifices have motivated me to always strive for more.

My sister also helped shape my journey by encouraging me to be myself and never follow the trends of what my friends or the people around me were doing. She always pushed me and told me to go full force in the direction of my dreams.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My sister always said to me, “Everything you do today reflects your tomorrow,” and that has stuck with me personally and professionally. I live by this quote and also use it to guide my business. Earlier in life, her wisdom helped me see that if I made choices in that moment to be unproductive and float along with the status quo of my surroundings, my future would reflect that and I’d never be successful. Instead, I took actions that laid the foundation for my success today. And that’s the same advice I give my clients. I tell them that if they don’t take control of their accounting today, they won’t understand their bottom line tomorrow.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Everything in life needs accountability. If you want your business to be great, you need solid accounting. If you want to be a good person, you need to be accountable. Everything great in this world uses accountability. Whether it’s knowing the numbers of your business or holding each other accountable for our actions, taking stock of what you have and what you’ve done allows us to make smarter, more informed choices. If we applied the concept of accountability to all areas of life, our society would be a much better place.

Thank you for joining us!

About the Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and United Arab Emirates focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. Prior to founding Regal Assets, Tyler worked for a Microsoft startup led by legendary tech giant Karl Jacob who was an executive at Microsoft, and an original Facebook board member. Feel free to reach out to Tyler on Linkedin HERE .

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Tyler Gallagher

Written by

CEO and Founder of Regal Assets

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.