5 years ago, I left my corporate job and became a dual-licence representative – Remisier and Financial Advisor.
Not all my friends thought this was a good idea and there were some hurtful comments when I first shared my intention to be a financial advisor.
Today, my team has grown to 6 advisors, servicing more than 1,500 accounts and investing more than $20 million asset under advisory. While there will be people who could have accomplished more, I am pleased with my achievements thus far and will continue to strive for better results.
I first shared my story here. In the blink of an eye, 5 years have passed.
I would like to share 5 learning points that I have experienced in the past 5 years. These are relevant for you even if you have no interest working in advisory or broking services.
#1 – You Cannot Escape Hard Work If You Want Success
It has not been an easy journey for the past 5 years. I have been working for 12-14 hours a day for 7 days a week.
As a self-employed person, I have no fixed working hours. Every single day is a business day for me. I have to constantly put in effort to brush up on my knowledge, my networking skills and my presentation skills.
I try to remain disciplined by following a routine. Routines lead to habits. And having good habits definitely help in my business.
Every morning before breakfast, I will check through trade settlements for my clients to ensure that all are in good order. I will then follow up with them on outstanding issues. Once the stock market opens, I will be on standby mode to assist client with their trading instructions.
At the same time, I will also prepare portfolio analysis for clients who are looking to review their finances. I also meet clients for financial advisory work during the day and after the stock market closes. I have been doing this every day including weekends for the past five years.
I also conduct a monthly update seminar to share my views and the investment outlook with my clients. I usually take one to two weekends to do the research and to prepare the presentation materials.
Being a remisier, I will have to make fast and accurate analysis and execution. Multi-tasking is an essential skill. For financial advisory, the key to success is more of soft skills such as communication. I am constantly learning to speak and to present to clients better.
There is a saying that if you find something you love to do, you will never have to work a day in your life. I love what I am doing. That is why I can do this every day.
#2 – You Have To Take Rejections In Your Stride
Throughout the past 5 years, I have met over 1,500 to 1,800 clients. My golden rule is to meet at least one client each day. Through meeting more people, I have learnt that every client’s situation is different.
On one hand, I have met very high net worth individuals who are thinking of how to grow, preserve and distribute their wealth. On the other extreme, I have also met with individuals who are struggling to clear their debts and are running into cash flow issues on a weekly or monthly basis. The rich-poor gap is very much real in Singapore.
There are a few key differences I have noticed between the rich and the not so well off. The rich tend to take prompt and immediate action. They also tend to be more savvy with their finances. They understand the principles of cash flow, assets and liabilities, good and bad debt. Perhaps because they tend to be senior management in corporations or are managing their own business, they tend to be more decisive.
To reduce this rich-poor gap, I believe financial education is the key. Everyone should understand the basics of financial planning – how to protect, grow and distribute wealth effectively.
Meeting clients is never an easy task. I cannot remember how many times I have been rejected. Even after I have understood my client’s needs and have prepared a proposal according to their needs, I may still get a “no” reply from them. I do understand that. Rejection is part of my job and not every client will like what I am able to provide. That is fine with me. What really bothers me is when a client fails to turn up for an appointment without even bothering to notify me.
Of course, there are good experiences as well. I tell myself that I am here to do my best for every client. The best validation of my effort comes when clients refer their family and friends to me.
#3 – You Need To Work With Good Partners To Accelerate Your Growth
My success over the past five years is intertwined to that of Dr Wealth’s. In 2013, Alvin, myself and two other partners started Bigfatpurse Pte Ltd. When we first started, there were no staff, no office, no printers, absolutely nothing. We were just 4 like-minded people who got together to share our passion.
Shareholders were staff and we had to do everything on our own. I still remembered us spending our weekends back testing our strategy and preparing our course material. It feels just like yesterday!
The company has since grown. We now operate with a team of 7 staff. Along the way, we have also acquired Dr Wealth through a share swap. We have opted to use the Dr Wealth name and we have since rebranded our website and all our marketing materials to the Dr Wealth name.
Dr Wealth has also evolved into a financial education company that provides multiple courses to cater for different target audiences. Over 5,000 have graduated from our courses and over 20,000 have attended our talks since 2013. As the key trainer in this flagship course, I am able to reach out to more people and to share my financial knowledge. Many of them have become clients for my financial services.
#4 – You Need To Constantly Improve Yourself To Provide Better Services To Clients
I am committed to complete my professional qualification in finance and I have since completed both the Chartered Financial Analyst Program (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner Program (CFP). I am able to put what I have learnt through these programs into practice. The CFA provides me an in-depth knowledge of financial analysis while the CFP provides me with the foundation knowledge for financial planning.
With all the hard work I have put in and the trust from my clients, I have managed to become one of the top advisors in the financial firm that I am in, garnering 19 awards in the past 5 years. From the Rising Star Award in year 1, to the Top Dual Licence Representative Award and Top Team Supervisor Award, I am fortunate to achieve these within 5 years. I will continue to provide my very best service and not to disappoint people who have placed their trust in me. My team has grown to 6 advisors, servicing more than 1500 accounts and investing more than $20 million asset under advisory. I have also helped more than 500 clients with adequate insurance plans. I have also hired an assistant to assist me with servicing clients so that I can focus on activities that add value most rather than be bogged down with administrative work.
#5 – Be Professional and Trustworthy
I will share my views in two sub-sections. The first is to my fellow financial advisors and remisiers; the other is to my clients and investors.
To my fellow advisors and remisiers, we all know that servicing clients is never easy. We have to face a lot of rejections and sometimes even downright ridiculous requests.
One thing I always remind myself is that we don’t have to convince everyone to follow our advice or strategy. There is no best advice or best strategy. As long as we provide our best advice, and we did our best for our clients, that will be good enough.
We also have to be professional in this industry. There will always be some black sheep in the industry. We try not to be one of them and to differentiate ourselves from them.
We need to enhance our image. I like to draw this analogy between doctors and financial advisors. The former is there to provide diagnosis on health, the later helps to provide diagnosis on wealth. If we go about our duties professionally, we become a financial doctor. If not, we are just selling medicine without any diagnosis.
To my clients and investors, I would like to thank everyone who have supported me throughout this journey. I may not be the best advisor in Singapore, but you can be sure that I will put in 100% of my effort to give you best advice that I have.
2020 has seen very volatile markets. In times like these, trust is crucial. The market will always have its ups and downs. If we plan properly, with the right asset allocation, short term market fluctuations should not be a concerned to us.
Before a pilot operates an aircraft, he or she will do all the necessary checks and plan for the safest journey. Any turbulence during the flight is an expected event. Passengers should not be jumping out of the aircraft door whenever the plane flies through a patch of turbulent weather. Instead, they should buckle up, sit tight and wait for the turbulence to pass. Similarly, all forms of investing will also come with volatility. Instead of panicking and selling everything at the first sign of market turmoil, investors should ignore the short term volatility, follow the plan and stay invested.
To Sum It Up
I hope I am able to inspire others through this sharing. Regardless of what you do, you will find success if you love what you do.
There is no easy journey for any career or business. There will always be ups and downs. The only certainty in business is uncertainty and we have to learn to adapt with the constraints that we have. Case in point, during this critical circuit breaker period, face to face meetings are not allowed. I have since learnt how to communicate with my clients and provide my advice through online meetings and webinars.
I am sure I will have more to share when I hit my 10th year in the industry. I am looking forward to the next 5 years!
Till then, stay safe and invest well.
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