Originally from Lagos Nigeria and son of an attorney and accountant, Ike Ikokwu came to the United States in 1988. Both of Ike’s parents got their formal education in England. His dad, who is an attorney and business man, always had a desire for his children to get a formal education in Europe or the United States. With the launching of an international import and export business in the late 1980′s, his father seized the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Ike’s dad sent him, his older brother, his older sister, and their mum to Columbus, Georgia in the United States, to attend school and keep an eye on the family business.
Upon landing in Columbus, Ike was enrolled in Pacelli High School, a private catholic high school. Ike attended Pacelli for three years and excelled in his studies there. Due to financial circumstances, Ike was transferred to Hardaway High School, a public high school for his senior year. While at Hardaway, Ike also excelled in his studies there as well.
Upon graduation from Hardaway in 1992, Ike’s mother returned back to Nigeria while he enrolled in the University of Georgia for his freshman year of college. As Nigeria continued to suffer from economic turmoil, the financial strain of supporting Ike at college became unbearable for his parents. Faced with a major decision of dropping out of college, Ike instead returned back to Columbus Georgia.
The financial challenges Ike was faced with were not new to him. All through his high school years, Ike and his mum, ran a newspaper route from about 3am to 6am for the Columbus Ledger Enquirer. After attending high school in the day, Ike would also work odd jobs at a car wash or a restaurant to help his family make ends meet. Living in a one bedroom apartment on Cody Road in Columbus with his mother and two siblings was tough. But Ike was no stranger to hard work.
Rather than give up on his hopes to get an education, Ike worked at the Chattahoochee River Club, a private fine dining restaurant in Columbus. He also worked at area restaurants like Applebees and Outback Steakhouse. As he accumulated money from his jobs, Ike enrolled at Columbus College and graduated in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting as part of the first graduating class of newly minted “Columbus State University.”
Along the path to graduation in 1996, Ike witnessed many blessings from those who helped him along the way. There was Melissa Lopez, daughter of Dr. Jose Lopez, a cardiologist in Columbus. Ike attended Pacelli High School with Melissa. Upon returning from UGA, Melissa was kind enough to talk her parents into letting Ike reside with them for free as he got on his feet. Melissa’s dad, Dr. Lopez, was also kind enough to co-sign on the purchase of his first independent vehicle, a blue 1992 Honda Accord. Ike owes Melissa and the Lopez family a debt of gratitude for their love and support over the years.
Another angel in disguise was Teresa Brown who Ike met while working at Chattahoochee River Club. Teresa was daughter to Roy and Maude Mckinnon. Roy had served in the army. Again, Teresa was able to talk her parents into adopting Ike as their son and with the adoption came a name change to Damien Mckinnon. In addition to the name change, Ike, or rather Damien, was now the son of a military personnel which entitled him to a whole range of benefits which made paying his way through college a whole lot easier. Ike also owes a debt of gratitude to Teresa and the Mckinnon family for their love and support through those formative years of his.
In April of 1996, Ike stumbled upon the love of his life while she was attending an accounting class at Columbus State University. Emma, was this angel’s name and she quickly stole his heart. Emma and Ike dated for a few months and Ike quickly realized she was “the one.” They made plans to marry exactly one year from the day they met on April 9, 1996. But before such a momentous event could occur, Ike, I mean Damien, decided that if he were going to get married and someday have children, he wanted to return back to his roots. This initiated a name change back to Ike and the marriage took place as planned on April 9, 1997.
Ike moved to Atlanta in the summer of 1996 just as Atlanta was hosting the Olympics. Ike began his career in accounting working for local firms like Habif, Arogeti & Wynne. He also worked for two of what used to be the Big 6 accounting firms, Ernst & Young and KPMG. Ike transitioned from general accounting to a focus on Tax planning and an even greater focus on Personal Financial Planning. Along the way, Ike obtained his CPA license in 1998. Then he enrolled in Georgia State University (GSU) and graduated with a Masters Degree in Personal Financial Planning in 2000. That same year, Ike obtained his CFP license.
As Ike was finishing up his Masters degree at GSU, He was recruited by Dr. Conrad Ciccotello, to help AXA Advisors with a new initiative where they were rebranding their insurance agents as financial planners, as AXA had recently bought Equitable Life Insurance Company. Ike left KPMG to go work at AXA’s corporate headquarters in Alpharetta, GA where as a member of the High Net Worth Team, Ike served as an advisor to other advisors in the field, lending his expertise in tax and financial planning to these advisors.
While working with AXA and helping advisors better serve their clients, Ike was also applying a lot of what he had learned to his personal finances as well. During this same time, Ike had become heavily invested in real estate in Atlanta, acquiring a portfolio of over 8 rental properties at one time. Ike had also channeled a lot of profits from his real estate investments into domestic, offshore and international investments that were paying monthly residual income in the five figure range. These offshore debenture investments were paying double digit monthly investment rates of return on the amount of principal invested.
It wasn’t long before all of this early success Ike was experiencing caused him to become prideful and shortly after that came “the great fall.” The great fall began with a revelation that a lot of these international and offshore investments were in fact ponzi schemes. That was followed with the stock market crash of 2000 to 2002. Then that was followed by a loss of employment at AXA Advisors in October of 2011. So long before Bernie Madoff had become a household name, Ike had been a victim of a similar ponzi scheme albeit to a much higher degree. Ike lost hundreds of thousands of dollars from losses in the international ponzi schemes as well as from losses in the stock market. With those losses wiping out Ike’s personal net worth and no income coming in, Ike found himself in a very deep valley. Unemployment continued for about 9 months. With no income and a lifestyle that was accustomed to being supported by five figure monthly investment income in addition to his employment by AXA, I was faced with the decision to file personal chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Ike filed for bankruptcy in January of 2003 and his debts were discharged in April of 2003. Through all of this, Ike learned an important lesson as the Lord taught him to worship the giver of the gifts as opposed to worshipping the gifts themselves. This cleansing process taught Ike to have a healthy relationship with money. During that same time the Lord promised Ike that if he would seek the Lord first and turn to Him for guidance and keep his eyes on Him that He would replenish all that Ike had lost and then some.
This period of darkness in Ike’s life also led to the birth of The Blessed Man, Inc. (TBM, Inc.). The scriptures God gave Ike when this company was birth are Psalms 1, Psalms 128 and Mark 12:17 and God said this would be a Tax and Financial Advisory Firm that would use creative and financial intelligence to transform lives, renew minds and empower people to be debt free and financially free. The Lord told Ike that not only would He bless him and teach him the way to attain financial freedom but that He would use him as a channel to bless others and do the same in their lives.
July 2002 marked a turnaround in Ike’s finances as he started working as a consultant providing comprehensive tax and financial planning to small business owners. Ike travelled all over the country providing this service to business owners. He incorporated his business in 2003 and contracted himself out to provide this service through about April of 2008. Because of the stress and strain from the nature of the work he did, as well as the inordinate amount of travel that came with this work, Ike went into semi-retirement in 2008. Ike and his wife had their first child, a girl in 2006, so she was also a major contributing factor in him wanting to get off the road.
When Ike went into retirement at the age of 34 in 2008, he realized that God had fulfilled his promise to him of replenishing all that he had lost. At that point Ike had achieved financial independence. He had accumulated enough liquid assets that he could position in investments to generate a sufficient amount of income to provide for his family. Now, he could focus his attention on other endeavors like spending more time with his family and pursuing other interests like trading the financial markets.
After about 6 months of trading the financial markets, Ike realized that was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. It was not fulfilling. Retirement was not all it was portrayed to be. Ike did some soul searching to try and figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Over the next several years, He slowly started getting back into the market place by building a financial planning business and trying to start an accounting firm from scratch. Ike quickly realized that he had been born with sort of a silver spoon as it related to the birth of his company.
From the birth of his company in 2003 to when he retired in 2008, Ike did not have to do any marketing of his business since he contracted his services out to two companies during that time. Those companies did all of the marketing so Ike could come in and manage the client relationships and deliver the services promised. So, as he started to market his business himself in 2009, it was indeed a humbling experience to stumble and learn on the fly so to speak.
As Ike stumbled his way through marketing his business, he kept trying with little success to figure out the right angle and the best way to market himself. Ike had decided that his skills were best served in servicing the needs of small to medium sized business owners hence the decision to build an accounting firm from scratch. Ike also began the search for accounting firms in Atlanta to acquire but for one reason or the other, he kept coming short on this goal. Ike even started writing a book that he was going to call “What every small business owner wishes their CPA would tell them….21st century strategies to realizing their dreams of profitable business growth, improved cash flow, lower taxes, and financial independence.” He even added “21st Century CPA” as a “doing business as” name for The Blessed Man, Inc. Ike started work on this book towards the end of 2010 and was just about done with the book in January of 2012 when something interesting happened.
Ike’s church, Free Chapel, starts the year off with a 21 day fast and they’ve been doing this corporately for over a decade. Ike and his family have been fasting with the church since 2006. In the middle of the 2012 fast, God started speaking to him about writing another book. He woke Ike up at 3am on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 and stated speaking to him about the U-Turn God wanted him to do with his previous book. The long and short of it is that by 8:30am that morning, Ike had penned an introduction to the book along with its first chapter. Within a month, the first manuscript of the book was completed.
The name of the new book is Winning The Money Game. The subtitle is Separating The Myths From The Truth. The sub-subtitle is Everything You Don’t Know About Achieving Financial Independence. With this book, God has reignited the vision and passion Ike had when he gave birth to his business and God told him what it’s purpose would be. It’s funny how despite some of the success Ike has achieved, he’s never quite felt like he had fully tapped into what God spoke to him when his company was being formed. Reigniting Ike’s vision led to the birth of this book and the rebirth of both of his companies. His Tax and Financial Advisory Firm, The Blessed Man, Inc. has been “reborn” and “rebranded” with a name change to Winning The Money Game With Ike, Inc. His Registered Investment Advisory Firm, Abiding In The Vine, LLC has been “reborn” and “rebranded” with a name change to Winning The Money Game, LLC. Both firms are currently still located in Cumming, Georgia. Below, Ike shares with you why he is passionate about this book and what he hopes to accomplish by marketing it and his firm’s services.
Why Ike Is Passionate About This Book
As a country, as a nation and even globally, we are in the middle of one of the biggest financial crisis since the great depression. The folks up in Washington can’t seem to balance our budget. As each year passes, our national debt which is now in the trillions of dollars keeps increasing. Investors have suffered yet another major setback in their financial planning goals with the most recent stock market crash. Questions abound with seemingly little answers about how to solve the social security crisis. Employment is at near historic levels and the average worker has very little savings to speak of and is basically living paycheck to paycheck.
Nationally and Internationally, we are suffering a really bad case of “financial insanity.” Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Financially speaking, people nationally and internationally have been doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. All you have to do is look at the American consumer. Not once but twice within the past decade, they have seen their wealth ravaged by “systematic risk or market forces” as some would say. Just because a ship is sinking doesn’t mean you sit quietly and die with the rest of the passengers.
Between 2000 and 2002, trillions of dollars were lost in the financial markets. Again between late 2007 and 2009, trillions more of dollars were lost in the financial markets. Not only did investors see as much as 50% losses in their stock, mutual fund, IRA and 401K portfolios, but they also witnessed their homes lose their values by as much as 50%. And where has the general population been accumulating much of their wealth for decades now? Thanks to “the go-go years” in the real estate market when home owners only thought their homes could appreciate in value but never depreciate in value, they got very used to using their homes as an ATM bank. Every few years as the homes would appreciate in value, they would refinance the home, pull out that equity, and use it to finance their lifestyle consumption. Reality finally set in during the most recent housing crisis and the next time they went to the ATM bank, it said you have “insufficient funds” to make a withdrawal.
All the while that this was happening, those who were saving any money at all from their paychecks, had the vast amount, if not all of those savings, going into their 401K’s at work, their self-employed retirement plans at their place of business, or their IRA’s at their brokerage firm. When the most recent crash in the stock market happened, as much as 50% of those hard-worked-for savings disappeared in the air along with the trillions of dollars that disappeared in the stock market. It’s time for a wake-up call in America. It’s time for a wake-up call in Britain, Greece, Germany and all other nations of the world. What you’ve been doing financially isn’t working.
Ike suffered a financial meltdown himself just after the market crash of 2001. It resulted in him filing for bankruptcy in 2003. In just 5 short years after his bankruptcy filing, he went from being broke to being financially independent. Ike did it by realizing the insanity in some of his prior financial decisions and by making a vow to change what he was doing for the better. Today, Ike is financially independent and secure because of those changes and the fact that the vast majority of his wealth isn’t sitting in the two most risky and volatile financial vehicles….that being the stock market and his home.
We have so many financial guru’s in the media yet so many are financially poor. We have so much financial advice available online, at financial institutions, from your financial advisor, and in the media, yet there isn’t much fruit being seen from this advice. If all of the financial advice you’ve been receiving from the media darlings and the guru’s is great, why didn’t the masses avert some of the losses seen during the most recent financial meltdown? Why are we as a people and as a country in the financial mess that we are in? How is all of that advice you are getting working for you? Is it possible that perhaps you’ve been Mis-Informed? If what you thought to be true about achieving financial independence and paying less taxes turned out not to be true, when would you want to know? Hopefully your answer is right freaking now!
The reason Ike wrote this book is to point out some of the areas that you’ve been financially misinformed, highlight why you’ve been misinformed, and share some of the things he did to cure his financial insanity, while giving you a prescription to cure yours. His hope is that you will conclude this book by realizing some major changes need to take place to achieve the financial and tax planning goals you have for yourself. And, the answer to your question is a big NO! You are not going to hear the financial guru’s in the media giving you the advice Ike shares with you in this book. But you know what, that’s OK. As Robert Frost said in his eloquent poem, “He took the road less travelled and it made all of the difference.” Perhaps that’s what you need to do financially as well. It’s what Ike did and he can tell you that it has made all of the difference!
What Ike Hopes To Accomplish With The Book
Ike would like to build a financial education empire similar to Dave Ramsey’s where consumers have access to books, workbooks, CD’s, and DVD’s of the material shared in this book. He’d like to be able to offer and give seminars across the country that people can attend. He’d like to build a financial services company with “trained advisors” utilizing these concepts that can service the needs of consumers that get exposed to his firm’s service offerings and want to work with an advisor locally or even nationally that “ascribes” to this teaching methodology. The net result of all of this will be to help the client cure their financial woes, heal them of the financial insanity they’ve suffered and help our country and nation get back on its feet. If the citizens are financially stable, the country prospers.
Currently, Ike serves as the President and CEO of Winning The Money Game With Ike, Inc. – An independent Tax and Financial Advisory Firm in Cumming GA. He is also the President and CEO of Winning The Money Game, LLC – An independent Registered Investment Advisory Firm also in Cumming GA.
Ike Ikokwu has been assisting clients for over a decade by providing strategic tax, investment, and financial planning services that have helped his clients create and preserve wealth for generations to come.
Ike has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from Columbus State University, in Columbus Georgia, as well as a Masters Degree in Personal Financial Planning from Georgia State University, in Atlanta Georgia.
During his career, Ike has worked for KPMG, LLP and Ernst & Young, LLP – 2 of the Big 4 Accounting Firms. Ike has also been an “Advisor” to local Advisors at AXA Advisors, LLC where he helped local advisors deal with the unique and complex planning needs of High Net Worth clients. For many years, Ike travelled the US providing strategic tax and financial advisory services to business owners.
As a Registered Investment Advisor, and with Professional licenses as a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Public Accountant, Ike brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in his role as “The Financial Independence Coach,” a name that Ike will trademark to describe a major goal he hopes to help his clients achieve by working with him.
Over the span of his career, he has conducted over 4,000 interviews with individuals and business owners that all had business and personal financial concerns they wanted to address. He has been interviewed on the Radio and TV and has had articles published in magazines and periodicals. You can also catch him hosting his own one hour radio show, Winning The Money Game, which airs Saturdays at 11am on WGUN Atlanta’s 1010 AM Station.
Ike has been a GA resident for 21 years but though you can’t detect an accent when speaking to him, He is originally from Lagos, Nigeria. His wife, Emma, was born in Germany (her dad was in the military) but she grew up in Columbus GA – the city where Ike met and married her. Married now since 1997, He and his wife, Emma, have a daughter named Ella-Louise born in 2006 and a son named Zion born in 2010. Ike and his family reside in Cumming, Georgia and attend Free Chapel Worship Center in Gainesville GA.
His hobbies include spending time with his family, reading, travelling, playing and watching tennis and basketball, and working out at the gym or at home doing his P-90X workouts.
Here’s what people are saying about Ike:
I first got to know Ike through his financial advice for my in-laws. Ike’s financial wisdom and his willingness to go above and beyond to make a difficult situation as easy as possible made it a no brainer decision for me to trust him with my own finances. Throughout both of my experiences with Ike he has proven to be a trustworthy man of integrity. I recommend anyone in need of financial expertise to talk to Ike.
- Steven DeLuca, July 13, 2010
I am a resident physician at Emory University. I began working with Ike in 2009 to help me with developing a long-term investment plan for retirement as well as tax planning. Thus far, I have been extremely pleased with his professional services. I have found him to be a very personable and laid back individual who is very easy to work with and get along with. He is very detail-oriented in his work and his knowledge of finance and investing is excellent. I decided to have him do my taxes this year and he saved me thousands of dollars on my tax bill. I highly recommend him to anybody looking for help with financial planning, tax planning, short or long term investing, estate planning, asset protection, and accounting.
- Dr. Seleem Sayyar, March 3, 2010
Ike is extremely gifted in the financial world and brings a comprehensive understanding to smart financial planning and decision making.”
- James Dodd, Business Owner, February 22, 2010
Mr. Ike Ikokwu has been helpful in assisting us in saving in our Taxes and also planning for retirement. He has extensive knowledge of tax laws and very professional in his work. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking at tax, financial and estate planning.”
- Shaukat Parpia, Business Owner, Jan. 11, 2010
Ike is a superb individual whose knowledge in his field far exceeds the norm. His attention to detail coupled with his acute understanding of reality makes working with Ike exciting and fun.
- Jim Brennan, Business Owner, November 1, 2009
I would like to thank you for all your hard work in helping us set up all of the tax strategies and personal retirement plans. Even though we could not implement every strategy you educated us on, the ones we were able to implement will still save us more than your total fee in the first year alone.
- Todd Linhart, Business Owner, July 20, 2007