Saturday, May 16, 2009

Buying on Trust - The Mango Saga

Along my way home last week, I passed by this stall that sell mangoes outside Pasir Ris MRT Station. The mangoes really looks yummy and I decided to buy some back for my family.

There were 2 group of mangoes on 2 different tables. The first group cost $3 for 3 mangoes and the second group cost $5 for 4 mangoes. Both group of mangoes looks rather similar to me. I tried to analyse the mangoes by touching and smelling it. No matter how I tried to analyse, I couldn't spot the difference and it prompted me asking the stall owner.

Adrian: Uncle, may I know what is the difference between the 2 group of mangoes?
Uncle: Same same. 2 group also very nice.
Adrian: Then which one is sweeter?
Uncle: Also same. Both very sweet.
Adrian: If same, why both different price?
Uncle: Price different a bit only mah. You think expensive, then buy $3 one lor.

I couldn't decide which group of mango to buy and started walking off.
Just as I stepped away from the stall, the Auntie beside the Uncle shouted at me.

Auntie: Xiao Di, this one is smoother and the seed thinner.
She was pointing at the $3 for 3 table. Immediately, I buy that group of mangoes...

My lessons from this mango incident:
1) You have to know your stuff when you do sales. If you don't know what you are selling, you may lose your customer.
2) Something that looks exactly the same outside may not be the same inside. We may need help when we are not sure.
3) I am not a mango expert, I relied on that Auntie's statement to buy the mango. I trusted her fully and hope she is not lying to me.

This "Mango" saga brought me to think about those people who are ignorant about Financial Products just like how ignorant I am about "Mangoes" will tends to trust their Financial Adviser like how I trusted the Auntie about the mango.

Then I remembered reading about how Insurance companies are stepping up their recruitment drive to increase their insurance agency force from the newspaper and a blog article from Mr Eng Tiang Chuan on the implication of such move

I'm also not very optimistic about more new agents coming into this industry. I had met many new advisers along my career and some of them came into this industry because they saw the success of their managers, the promise of high income and the time flexibility. Some of them treated this job as temporary and was engaged with MLM, Property, Land Banking, Forex trading, etc at the same time.
When they realised that its not so rosy or attracted by other opportunities, they will totally leave the industry. Their clients will suddenly realise that they do not have a agent anymore.

Many of these new agents are told to sell only specific products by their companies and managers. They are enticed with large bonuses, posh holiday trips, etc. Some do not have the relevant knowledge and experience to identify what is good and bad for their clients and they just follow what they company and managers teach them to do.

Any ignorant prospect will have a very high chance of buying what they may not urgently need because they trust their adviser and the brand of the company.

2 things crossed my mind
1) I'm wondering if there is a need to have so many insurance advisers around.
2) Knowledge or experience can be gained over time but Integrity of the adviser is even more important in this field in order that the consumers are really getting the right plans.

There are good and bad advisers, whether they are fresh or old. I'm not against any new adviser when I wrote this...


Anonymous said...

Adrain, don't be apologetic. There are a lot of bad agents like the mango seller. No that the mango man was not knowledgeable but he was NOT honest.He was hopeful that you bought the more expensive one but you didn't fall for the risk he took and the auntie saved the situation by telling the truth. You might not have bought because you already saw the poor treatment and dishonesty.
Likewise in insurance there are many who are dishonest. They are NOT interested in the clients but themselves. That is why they sell only few products that eatrn them high commission. They specialise in whole life , endwoment and regular ILPs. They received a lot of training in these products , how to con the customers into buying, good for themselves and the company and this translate into APIs which measure the yearly production.Do you think the companies are honest. They also like the agents only interested in high commission products.The companies are interested in an army of salesmen to push whether they stay to service the clients is not an issue. SALE< SALES>>buy>>buy. This indsutry is full of dishonest salesmen and con artistes.
At the receiving end is the suckers, the customers.

Anonymous said...

HI Adrian

Trust can be a dirty word that is easily manipulated by emotional selling.


Anonymous said...

U must be feeling the heat now. If you cannot take the heat, then get out of the kitchen or install an airconditioner. As for why there are two groups of mangoes and priced differently even though they looked the same and the seller said it is the same, it just goes to show that there are many fools around, so some fool may think that more expensive means better and buy it. That is why they priced it differently.
By the way, buying 3 for 3 dollars is also foolish because Giant is selling 3 sweet Thailand mangoes for just $1.99 and you shop in airconditioned comfort instead of in the heat at the MRT station where the guy does not pay rent.