Saturday, May 31, 2008
During that brief meeting, he informed me that he had taken a wholelife plan from Company "M" 2 months ago. At first instance, I don't remember any good wholelife plan from this company. Therefore, when I reached home, I immediately get my laptop and do all the comparisons. As expected, this plan gives poor value. The premium is higher, lower protection and cash value at all years, higher distribution cost and the company has a lousy investment track record.
I sms him in the morning to re-consider this plan but he told me it was his friend who is also an IFA recommending that plan to him. He thought his friend would have made comparisons for him. He will just carry on with the plan despite that he only paid 2 months premium. He then told me that 2 of his other friends also got the similar plan from him already. He told me not to worry and he will support me with an RSP.
I have a few disappointments that night. I can't sleep well and my mood is spoilt for this weekend.
1) Disappointed that he did not wait that one month for me despite his repeated promise. He have enough of Life Insurances. What he needs is a disability income or to top up his term coverage and then start accumulating his wealth.
2) Disappointed that some IFA sell plans that benefit them the most. It really disgust me. They are harming our reputation.
3) Disappointed when he claims that 2 of his friends also buy that plan from that adviser. How come he never recommend these friends to me? More people buying such plans of poor value to feed the pocket of that adviser?
4) He say he will support me with an RSP. I don't think he knows that the commission from an RSP may not even be enough to buy a plate of chicken rice for myself. Moreover, he is left with a much lower budget to invest if I am to recommend him disability income and term coverage. He may thought that I earn a lot and he is doing me a favour, not the other way round.
5) I felt I'm a lousy sales person. That adviser had earn so much more than me with 2 more friends buying similar plan without doing a financial plan and proper analysis. I had done so much and my reward is so much lesser than that adviser.
6) I am very very disappointed because I had failed my duty as his financial planner and let him fall into the trap of such advisers.
A similar disappointment happened to me few months ago when another of my very good friend purchased from Company "P".
So stressed now. That stupid CFA exam coming. Spent so much $$$, study so hard to suffer and feel like sure fail. Sometimes don't understand why I am studying so hard when others can get so much more than me when they don't do anything. So much work not done before I left the company. Yet such things happened. No mood to study now. Shitz!!!... But cannot, exam coming... Haizzz... (Dilemma)
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
I happened to pass by Pasir Ris MRT Station this afternoon and a moving piano caught my attention. The pianist, dressed in Victorian Ballroom costume and played real good music on a piano with wheels attached below. He was cycling and making funny facial gestures with his audiences. There was many people crowding round him, taking photographs and enjoying the beautiful music at the same time.
I think thats a creative way to attract people. It had slowed down my pace, and willing to stay for a while to enjoy the music. After staying for 10 over minutes, the word "Arts Festival" came into my mind. It inspired me to log into the net and google for the words "Singapore Arts Festival".
2008 Arts Festival falls on 23rd May to 22nd June. I was surprised that this festival had been around since 1977. Heard about this festival many times but never bothered about it. As I surfed into their website(http://www.singaporeartsfest.com/), I realised that there are so many events ranging from Music, Theatres, Dance, etc. to us to choose.
Well, I am certainly not those artistically inclined person. My encounter with music and the Art Scene started during my polytechnic days when I was a concert band player. However due to work, I have not slow down my pace to enjoy this robust Arts scene in Singapore. Maybe this is a good chance this year.
I'm not promoting Arts today, but I urge everyone to slow down our pace once a while and enjoy the beautiful Arts Scene around us. Log into their website. Take a look...
Friday, May 23, 2008
* For the next 52 years, Anne lived quietly and simply in her small, rent-controlled apartment in New York City. She clipped coupons, shopped for discounts at the local stores, ate home a lot, living on minimum government pension.
* When she passed on in 1995, her will was opened and the larger world found out that the little woman in the tiny apartment had left a $22 million dollar estate to Yeshiva University. And that her stock investments were earning around $1 million per annum, most of which she didn't spend.
2007 recipients of the Anne Scheiber Scholarship
The magic of compounding
Anne was burned by various stock brokers, including her brother during the 1930s, and had resolved to never depend on them again. She did her own research, chose her own stocks, and by the time she passed away 52 years later, her stock choices had grown at the rate of around 17.5% per year. And the paltry five grand had mushroomed to $22,000,000 and counting. (We call this the magic of compounding)
Her investment Strategies
1) Price of shares doesn't matters
She favored firms with growing earnings and tend to ignore a stock's price to earnings ratio. She reasoned that stocks are overpriced sometimes and underpriced others but if the company's income rises year after year the buy price doesn't matter.
2) Savings Bit by bit (Dollar Cost Averaging)
She lived a very frugal lifestyle and continue to invest with her meagre pension monies.
3) Buy and hold (No market timing)
She never sold a stock in which she believed. Neither in the bear market of the '70s nor during the crash of '87 she was worried. Instead she thought the general market had gotten overpriced, and she was convinced her stocks would come back.
4) Demanding Answers (Proper research and know what she buy)
She went almost every annual shareholder's meeting and demand answers from the CEO as if she is still working as an auditor.
5) Reducing her dividend tax (Minimising Taxes)
In order to cut taxes she reinvested her dividends in tax exempt bonds. When she died, she had 60% in stocks, 30% in bonds and 10% in cash.
6) Power of Compounding (Investment with Time, not timing)
Think this is the most important strategy. She allowed her money to compound for 52 years.
Well. Can we achieve something legendary like her? Its actually quite possible but we have to be disciplined and start early...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The AMD is designed to provide autonomy for patients to determine in advance of their wish to die naturally and with dignity when death is imminent and when they lose their capacity to decide or communicate. It legally registers the views and wishes.
How to make an AMD?
1) Complete the AMD form
2) Find a valid witness to your private clinic or polyclinic
4) Return the form to the Registrar of AMD
* Call them if you didn't hear from them after 1 month
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I had finally decided to join this particular FA firm after a lot analysis and comparisons. I had chosen this firm because of the company's financial strength, good reputation, activity based team, knowledgable manager and fair compensation structure. May not be the best choice but I feel at ease and comfortable with the place.
My Excitement on being untied
As the day come closer to being untied, my feeling are mixed with excitement and uncertainty. I am excited because I know I will start a new lease of life in this profession with pride and dignity. I am able to add better value to people around me with the range of Financial Solutions compared to the past. I am able to work towards charging a fee for the work that I used to do for my clients. I have my aspirations to be a well soughted Financial Planner in Singapore. I want to get write books which people can easily understand my financial planning concepts, give lectures in universities, making this industry more professional and ensuring more people are getting the proper advices. I well aware that I'm not that intelligent and that capable yet, thats why I never stop learning and think how to work towards my dreams and aspirations.
I survived the industry out of chance...
It was by chance that I survived this industry. I would have been out of the industry 1 year after I joined because I simply can't close big policies like my peers do. I did a lot of term and medical insurance which I cannot well sustain my income. I could not convince people to invest their money. I am not able to apply certain concepts which my colleagues taught me. Some of them even feel that I'm stubborn and negative. I worked very hard, but the income was depressing.
The depressing Days
In my early days, I ate plain rice with one vegetable for lunch everyday over nearly 3 months after depleting my 3 months worth emergency fund. My income was supported by my childhood piggy bank savings. I went to the MRT Station putting in 10 cents after 10 cents to accumulate $1 and press the reject button on the ticket machine, so that I can have a dollar coin instead of 10 ten cent coin. I didn't have money to buy a pair of shoe and I remembered clearly how I wept outside Ma Guang Medical Centre along Middle Road on one rainy day when my socks were soaked because my shoe was badly torn. I got no one to turn to and I felt I have ruined my life. The company saved me when they sold nearly 250 policyholders to me and sent me to Army Camps and present to the Army boys convincing them on our Endowment plans. My commission increased and my life improved. Subsequently, with time, I have more general insurance business and my income stablised.
Why the uncertainty?
Because I have 9 fears and 1 feel...
1) I fear that history will repeat itself again
2) I fear that my dreams and aspirations will be gone
3) I fear that the remuneration for being honest and always put clients interest first will not be sufficient to justify me staying in the industry.
4) I fear this industry is a sunsetting industry
5) I fear that my income will always be pegged to a junior executive even when I'm old
6) I fear that I'm not able to retire myself when I always tell people how to save and invest for retirement.
7) I fear that it'll be too late for me to switch back to my old job after another few years of trying. 8) I fear working 8-5 job and working under some lady bosses which I cannot endure
9) I fear losing my family when I cannot get a proper income
10) I feel that I survived this industry out of chance and not out of own capabilities.
Rational Vs Emotion
I am a person with a rationale mind but emotional heart.
My mind calculated my chance of success and it tells me that it is stupid to give up my renewal commissions which was like God given in the past. I should close my eyes, shut my heart and sell whatever the company told me to. Apply whatever selling concepts to people whom I met. I can leave the industry after a few years of good renewal commission, join another industry and continue to get my passive income while on another job. I think I'll live a good life by doing what others are doing and don't analyse so much.
But SHUCKs..., I'm an emotional animal. I have conflicts whenever I try to close my eyes and do what the others are doing. I am not happy and don't feel proud of my job. I keep trying to be different by upgrading and inventing financial planning worksheets. I find it hard to promote certain plans and I don't really feel happy even after I closed the case. I refused to move out of this industry even though I don't feel positive because I loved what I'm currently doing and I find it hard to remove the emotional baggage of leaving all my policyholders behind. I had spent so much time and money achieving my CFP, Life Insurance Diploma and Estate Planning Course, I will have wasted them all if I give up now.
No return now
Since I had already decided to go untied and to remain in the industry, I cannot look back now. I am no longer a young boy who can u-turn and start fresh again and again. If I am to make this a viable career, I must be able to find people with larger premiums to invest, build up my portfolio fast, stablises my income with Term Insurances and General Insurances. Its super tough with my current sales capabilities but I really don't want to think anymore. My heart just told me "Just do it!"
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I flipped through my Times-Chambers Dictionary to look for the definition of Insurance and it was defined as follows:
"Insurance is a guarantee that you will receive money if something is lost or damaged, or receive a replacement for it, by a financial company in return for regular payments you make to them."
It did not specify what was lost or damaged. It can be a hard asset or even a life. As most of us are likely to relate about loss of a human life when we talk about insurance, I like to talk about the ways where we can get money from the Financial or Insurance Company when a life is unfortunately lost.
Each type of insurance have their purpose, strengths and flaws. There are cheap and expensive ways to get covered. I just like to share with you the type of Insurance plans you can get in Singapore and I'll rank from the most expensive ways to the cheapest with the Premium:Coverage Ratio.
The 10 Insurance Plans to get money if a human life is lost
1) Single Premium Endowment/Investment Linked Plan
* The cover is more like a special benefit than an insurance.
2) Single Premium Life Insurance including Universal Life plan
4) Whole Life Insurance Plan with Limited Premium chosen
<~ $200/mth for $100k wholelife cover. Premium payable till age 65. Ratio - 1:500>
5) Whole Life Insurance Plan without Limited Premium
<~$170/mth for $100k cover. Premium payable till age 85 or 99 Ratio - 1:588>
6) Term Plan with Whole Life Cover
<~$75/mth for $100k Whole Life Cover. Ratio - 1:1,333>
7) Term Plan covering till X years
<~25/mth for $100k cover till age 65. Ratio - 1:4,000>
8) Decreasing Term Plan covering till X years
<~$15/mth for $100k cover till age 65. Ratio - 1:6,667>
9) Yearly Renewable Term Plan
<~$8/mth for $100k cover. Premium goes up with age. Ratio - 1:12,500>
10) Group Yearly Renewable Term plan
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Morale Booster after TSC came in
There was a fresh breath of air for the Consultants when TSC came in Feb07. We were invited to the Esplanade. We felt different compared to the Kreta Ayer environment. He gave a fantastic speech and we suddenly feel that a bright future is ahead of us. The declaration he made in Esplanade was published on Newspaper. My impression that day is that NTUC Income will change and a revolution is on the way.
The change in Environment?
* I feel that TKL is more of the traditional, Asian type of boss, hardworking, caring and hands on to everything. TSC is different, my feel of him is of more hype and modern type of boss.
* He try to change the way people view us and how we view ourselves. It is like changing from the neighbourhood shophouses type of environment towards the Shenton Way environment with his modernisation towards the company.
(I don't argue if modernisation is necessary, but I can feel like NTUC Income is less of an old fashioned, auntie, uncle type of company)
He is good at giving speeches
* I think his public speaking ability is fantastic. He never fails to convince the consultants whenever he goes up for a speech. He is very good in motivating and making the Consultants feel good and confident. The consultants feel great after each meeting and meetings are no longer boring.
His emphasis on Sales
I can see that his core emphasis is Sales. He treats the consultants very well. He do not hesitate to reward the good ones by coming out with a lot of motivating sales contest. He invites many external trainers to train the Consultants. He published the good ones, full page in Newspaper. The feel good factor is there. No wonder he gained quite a bit of supporters within the Consultants.
My encounters with him
* My encounters with him are 2 emails, a short greeting at Income Centre and a handshake during an incentive trip.
* I put up a proposal to improve the Business Centre when he newly joined. He thanked me and told me to greet him and introduce myself when I meet up with him. I'm too shy to do so.
* He always acknowledge my emails promptly and thank me whenever I suggested something.
Feel good factor over. How I feel of him after a year
* He keep telling us that NTUC Income will transform but I have no idea how he will transform NTUC Income as he described. There don't seems to be concrete actions or change except the renovations and many sales contests that keep pushing us.
* Too many contest and emphasis on Sales seems to make the Consultants focus on selling other than doing a proper review. Consultants start to avoid policies like Incomeshield and Term Policies because they need to get their Sales quick.
* There are grievances but he don't seems to hear and don't seem bothered to address. Only see him during major meetings every 2 months. We sometimes don't know if he is listening or doing something about it. He seems near but yet so far when we are voicing out our ideas and grievences.
* He seems to be telling us "You, as a Financial Consultants, just focus on your sales. Don't bother too much on what we are doing at our end."
* He came out with innovative things like the change in Mission, Vision, etc. But I only see things happening on paper and speeches.
His image is a disadvantage to him in NTUC Income
* NTUC Income have long build up the image of frugality and caring type of Insurance company. He appeared in the Press, sometimes with a wine glass, relaxed and seemingly enjoying life.
* He lacks the cooperative image that people preceive. People started to think that he is too commercialized and don't care for them anymore.
* For the older Policyholders, he may looks like a spendthrift. For the younger ones, he may looks quite cool.
* The Policyholder base of NTUC Income is generally from the older age group. This, may be a disadvantage to him. But of course, the good point is that he may be able to attract more younger ones in future.
* I think he improved in changing the NTUC Income Image towards modernization. Unfortunately he was dragged down a bit by allegations that he overspent and the recent saga of the Change in Bonus Scheme thingy.
* He improved the morale of the Consultants and improve sales and market share. He managed to stretch the ability of almost every Consultants in the small sales force. But I don't know how far stretched can they go when new recruitment seems to remain relatively low.
* He put in a lot of attention on Training and professionalism. Capabilities of Consultants improved as a whole. Frankly telling, everyday, we are pushing for Sales, not sure how much they learn are being applied.
* He also seems to line up a strong management team with vast experience.
* I'm not sure. He did build up a vision for us but no mention at all of what he is going to do. This is call "Uncertainty". Maybe I'm thinking too much.
Will he deliver? I really don't know. Its "Faith" that he will because I cannot see the concrete steps in going towards that vision.
(The above are just opinion from where I'm standing, about my boss. It is not meant to credit or discredit him.)
Friday, May 9, 2008
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.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
3) Food are grown for Energy
Monday, May 5, 2008
I can understand why everyone is unhappy about the change. It is just like you are told that your salary will be cut this year and I will give you a fat bonus at the end of the year. Everyone will of course want the high salary and not the fat bonus because we are risk averse and want to see money faster. Fat Bonus or not are not guaranteed and you will surely be afraid that you will never see it.
Now, there is this big boss, willing to stand up and fight for the rights of the workers. As most people are followers, many people will naturally want to follow him since there is a clear leader.
With a clear leader, people will be bolder, speak louder and build their thoughts on one extreme towards their leader's view.
Sometimes we may not know the motive of the leader but sometimes we need to be rationale and think why such a unpopular move is taken. Try to look at 2 sides. Say, if a company cannot sustain the high wages in one year due to a bad patch and went insolvent. Everyone will lose their job. If the company adopt a variable wage system, their variable cost comes down and everyone keep their job.
This is just an analogy, for NTUC Income case, it slightly different. The bonus system need to be changed because the life fund need to be stronger and more resilient to withstand changes in the investment markets better. The correct bonus practice have to be in line with industry practice and for prudent actuarial practice. The investment climate compared to 10-15 yrs ago is totally different. Bonds and equities returns are too far apart that they cannot ignore. If they cannot give the right bonus to policyholders over long term, they will lose business to the others who are able to adopt a higher equity allocation in their investments.
A government can make unpopular decisions like raising minister's salary, plant extra ERPs, raise GST in high inflationary conditions, build casinos, etc As there are no strong oppositions in Singapore, there are practically nothing that Singaporeans can do. Singaporeans generally also trust our leaders, thats why their reactions are not so strong.
NTUC Income is a corporation, not government. They don't have the power to force a legislation down the throat of the people. There was also a lot of mistrust with the company because such mistrust was breeded like Andes Mosquitoes in someone's blog for over 1 year. From observation, the enemies of all the Mosquitoes are towards NTUC Income. Now, a rare opportunity comes, naturally, all the mosquitoes are fully ready to attack the company.
I do not want to say who is right or wrong now. I just like to try putting on a more balanced view towards this issue. Of course, you can have your own views just like I hold on to mine.
Melody and Patches are both Minilops and are twins. Melody was adopted by me and is a fair Lady, Patches was adopted by another family and is a handsome gentleman. They were separated 5 weeks after birth and they met again last Saturday.
Look at Patches. His fur is real soft. He is a curious and active rabbit. He look forward our pettings and hugs.
Soon after they meet, they bond immediately. Something I never achieve for my Melody with Local Rabbit "Lovely".
My heart really melted when I saw Patches grooming Melody. A feeling I really can't describe.
Patches is the one with more Brown fur.
These are Patches and Melody's parents
This is their Father (above). Look at how he enjoys our petting.
This is Mother(above). She has a trademark resting position which Patches follows. Melody never rest like that before. Looks like she is laying Eggs, right?
They have another sister. Borned about 1/2 year earlier than Melody and Patches. The photo was just so well taken, isn't it?
Saturday, May 3, 2008
After complaining that people of our generation find it hard to save, he began to share his concept of savings that he adopts since he was a boy. What are his concepts?
1) The concept of "70-20-10" salary allocation
* Ever since he get an allowance from his parents as a young boy, he allocates his allowance strictly according to the 3 numbers.
a) 70 refers to 70% of his salary that he used for whatever necessary family expenses
b) 20 refers to 20% of his salary that he put aside as savings before spending
c) 10 refers to 10% of his salary that he put aside to pamper himself like going for a holiday and for his hobbies.
* The 3 numbers subconsciously allowed him to save a considerable amount for his retirement today and yet enjoying his life when he was working.
2) The concept of feeding a Beggar at home
* He always imagine that if he does not keep to his first concept and spends unnecessarily, he will become a beggar when he is old because he had failed to save.
* So whenever he has a strong urge to buy something which he may not need, he will tell himself that there is a beggar at home that he needs to feed today. Go back and feed the beggar first before deciding if he still wants to buy that item.
* 90% of the time, he will not go back to buy that item unless he really likes it a lot.
* This concept had stopped him from buying a lot of things which may not be necessary
What an interesting day chatting with him and I feel that this old concept can still be applied in our generation. Except that, in our generation, we must also know how to invest it properly.