Friday, May 9, 2008


Some short notes
I have never indicate in my blog that I am from NTUC Income since the blog started 18 months ago. I should be proud to say that I am from NTUC Income, the only Singapore Cooperative Insurer. But I do not want my blog to be associated to Sales, I decided to keep mum about where I am from. However, I will be leaving in 23 days time.

Today, I am not writing about my history or about NTUC Income.
I just like to comment on the difference between the two CEOs whom I had the privilege to work with, Mr Tan Kin Lian(TKL) and Mr Tan Suee Chieh(TSC) during my 5 years term in NTUC Income.

Today, I like to write about TKL first. I'll write about TSC in future postings.

The boss who brings NTUC Income to where it is today
TKL is the man responsible for where NTUC Income is today. To achieve this feat, this person must have certain level of intelligence and capabilities. He is well respected for his strong principles, straight talking and hardworking nature.

TKL is the boss who will goes deep into the ground, listen to every staff as low as a clerk and tell us straight what is workable and what is not. Trust me!!! He can reply to your emails at 2am in the morning and the internal forum at 5am in the morning when you post at 4am. He have a good heart and care for the older advisers who had previously work hard for the company.

He maintains an internal forum which Consultants and Staffs are able to bring out their ideas or problems. TKL make sure all problems are rectified and grievences acknowledged. Because of this internal forum, I had a chance to have lunch with him for winning some Commonsense Award where he encourages staffs to write commonsense solution for difficult problems.

He touches my heart
If he only choose to meet up with good sales consultants, I'll never have the chance to talk to him directly because I never have a fantastic sales record. I'm very touched because I feel that I'm a very very small staff and he talks and listen to my ideas wholehearted and patiently and not even a critisism of how stupid the idea it may be. His PA then contacted me to attend a S-League match with him shortly after the lunch. Again. I felt very touched though I did not go for the match due to some family matters.

My idea contribution to the company stopped
I started to respect him a lot and I always try to think of ways to improve the company via the forum. (Until the day, my immediate manager told me to mind my own business and not to spend time in forum. He warns me not to rock the boat when everything is calm. Why? Because my sales was just moderate) I felt sad because I was sincerely in coming with new ideas, hoping that someone will adopt or acknowledge one day. But this is also the problem under his helm, some managers are afraid to see problem and just hope to work till retirement.

Consultants began to feel lost
He somehow lost the hearts of the Consultants in 2005 and 06. The Consultants felt lost due to the emergence of direct business where he tried very hard to develop. Perks are given for people who buy from Office direct and telemarketers started calling Consultants' clients as he declare that Policyholders belongs to the Company, not the Consultants. Salary capping news started to spread and news of Stanley Jeremiah left. We thought Stanley Jeremiah is a capable man who will help NTUC Income to grow. His departure shocked us and we feel that no capable man can work with him. Our commission was cut as Gifts like MP3 and Cameras are given during his time and lower commission is given when we sell larger policies. Half of the gift cost were to be paid by Consultants.

Consultants were unhappy. Morale was low. Recruitment was at all time low, Departure of Consultants were at all time high. NTUC Income are left with a significantly small sales force by early 2007 before TSC came. Training was conducted by largely part-time trainers resulting that the quality and knowledge of Consultants remains at a certain level. Market Share kept declining during that 2 years.

What might be his weaknesses?
Sometimes I just feel that he holds on to his principles too strongly that people will just follow to all his orders and avoid questioning him against his principle. My impression is that many staffs in NTUC Income are quite scared of him. This may stem innovation in the company as people tends to do only things that he believes in.

His blog
I visited his blog almost daily. I used to contribute to his blog until I realised that what I write are not what his readers want to see. His readers are extremely negative towards Financial Consultants and many of his blog articles emphasizes on "High Commission" by agents. For a layman who read his blog, all consultants in Singapore suddenly become unethical, greedy bunch of people. I felt very unfair for many good Consultants who work hard, round the clock, carrying out claims and all sort of requests from the customers. Many also kept upgrading themselves to ensure that their clients get the most appropriate advices.

There are nothing wrong with his views and I understand that he holds his principles strongly. What I hope are more sensitivity towards how his postings will affect both the good and bad advisers. His intention might be to get rid of the bad advisers, but unfortunately, the good ones will be gone first before the bad ones because the good ones normally do not sell excessive Life Insurances for high commissions.

(The photo above is still proudly standing on my study room display cabinet where all my visitors will look upon whenever they come to my house)


Anonymous said...

It is not an innocent issue when the recent event surfaced. You are the first innocent party who got so badly bashed. I have never doubted your diligence as a consultant. You might not be the best in your field but you have a fair and upright disposition. Is there any thing that I can offer to help?
Don't give up your pursue! When one door is closed , surely another one is open.
You are still young and there are plenty of opportunities for you out there.
Your seemingly small way has, I believe, contributed beneficially for those who read Mr Tan's blog or your personl blog.
I have a financial advisor friend holding quite a high post in AXA.
If you are interested, I could ask her whether there is any vacancy for you? I apologise for contributing to your distress right now because I wrote to both blogs.

Anonymous said...

Adrain, i knew from the start when i bashed ntuc agents for their unethical practices , you were and are the only a good guy who would put the the interest of the cleints first. I am very glad that you are leaving this hell hole where there is no law and order in respect of the clients' concerns, not for greener pasture, but to a place where you can passionately pursue your goal, to help people plan their needs.Let us know the place you are going.
Never look back. Tell yourself that you are one of the best financial planners, confident, competent, sincere and more importantly you want to help people, especially the poor, to take care of their personal finances, of course ethically and not to be motivated by money solely.
I wish you all the best and I hope my words do encourage you.


Anonymous said...


you seems like a good guy who will sell based on the best interest of the customer. pls keep us informed of your future "job", preferably some IFA firm so that we can recommend potential clients to you


Anonymous said...

Adrain, please rename your picture caption.
Tan Kin Lian & Adrain Khiat.

Remove the tsc, can be sore eye.

Don't let the tcs ruin the handsome guy like you with the CEO TKL.

Anonymous said...

I am doing some research on great CEOs. Do you have any information regarding the following:
1.Club Nuansa was set up during TKL's tenure. What happened to the Club? Was it set up eventually-read that it closed down? How much was the joining fee and how many people paid money to join? What happened to the members' joining fees?
3. An insurance academy was set up when TKL was in-charge. Understand from an ex-employee that he used to give lectures to his staff under some diploma course he created. Did he lecture for free?
3. Heard that Income engaged the services of a company from China to do up the IT system on a large scale when TKL was CEO.At any stage, did anyone related to TKL work for this Chinese company? If yes, what was the arrangement for employment? Thanks!

Khiat Han Hwee Adrian said...

1) I can't remember about Club Nuansa. Probably not during my time.

2) I rememebered Income collaborated with Nanyang Poly for the Insurance Academy. I cannot remember if they offer up to Diploma level, but I do have a certificate on Financial Planning after taking a 5 days course and an examination consisting of a report and presentation. The academy also trained a group of Insurance Executives who actually works in the management side.

3) If I'm not wrong, you are probably talking about our e-bao system. It is where our policyholder details are stored and managed. Heard that its quite cheap and I think its pretty good.

For more details, you probably have to check with him directly.

Anonymous said...

I can understand the feeling and pressure of the consultants when NTUC Income Insurance (or specifically, Tan Kin Lian)introduces the Business Centre.

However, I have to admit that I am in favor of this change; mainly because it benefits the potential policyholders. In fact, I do remember writing to Tan Kin Lian before the opening of the NTUC Income Business Centre - to congratulate him for the great efforts.

Furthermore, this is similar to those budget airliners where I do not require "posh services" and expect to save monies on the air-ticket instead. I do not think there is any wrong to such scheme though.

I think it is time for the so-called consultants to understand that customers are getting smarter and knowledgeable these days (notwithstanding, calculative too) and they need to find alternatives henceforth.

Anonymous said...

Adrain, take the tcs out and replace it with your name. The tcs apoils

Khiat Han Hwee Adrian said...

If the business Centre is truly unbias and give proper advice. I got nothing to say.

It is not true to say that a Mobile Insurance Adviser is bias and is not capable to giving proper advice.

The plans recommended are the same except Business Centre have another ID7. But check it out. How many of the people at Business Centres are strongly recommending ID7 and selling only Term Insurances?

Consultants in Direct Sales have a high quota to hit and they are under more stress to sell than the mobile advisers. Many of them are new and many of them will resign anytime when they realise things are not right.

Its not easy to guage who will mis-sell and will not.

leothu said...

hi adrain, i felt pretty touched when i am reading this entry. and surprised that you are leaving, any clue to where are u heading to?

i wish you and your client well.

Khiat Han Hwee Adrian said...

Thanks for your concern, Leothu.
I have not decided which firm to join but I must be in a place where I can continue serve my clients. Thats crucial.

Anonymous said...

According to my previous understanding, those consultants at the Business Centre earned monthly salary but little commission.

I did visited the Business Centre at Tampines on one occasion and find the consultants to be fair and reasonable in their suggestion though.

Khiat Han Hwee Adrian said...

Pls don't misunderstand that I mean Consultants in Business Centres are of no good.

What I want to say is that as some mobile consultants can be bias and pushy. I dare say that Salaried Consultants can be the same.

It is a misconception that Salaried Consultants are better than Mobile Consultants in term of advice given.

Anonymous said...

I hold no grudge against mobile consultants; and I do not wish to enter into further argument regarding "mobile consultants versus salaried consultants".

There are bound to have some good mobile consultants and unrighteous salaried consultants - and vice versa. This is unavoidable.

All I am saying is that the NTUC Income Insurance Business Centre is a good conception - at least to the consumers.

Loh Hon Chun said...

You can try asking a IFA company. I know IFA is eligible to sell NTUC products (but not sure if it's all).

PIAS is one of the IFA I know of.