Against All Odds

Left: Lexis Teo | Right: Timothy Tan

Life insurance offers dual benefits of savings and security. Yet the industry is often misconceived by the public. We speak to two representatives from Great Eastern to find out how they overcome this challenge posed by society.

By Mabel Tan

Insurance agents hold a tough but rewarding career. They face countless rejections from people who don’t know any better and might face scepticism from their peers who have preconceived notions about their job.

Yet, insurance continues to thrive in Singapore and is now a billion-dollar industry. This pie will only become bigger in the future as the country grows.

Meet two Great Eastern representatives who have managed to thrive in their career and are now reaping the rewards of their hard work and labour.

Why did you choose to build a career in insurance?
Timothy: Throughout my student life, I have never been exposed to risk management. Schools never taught us what to do if an adverse event were to happen to ourselves or our loved ones. On this note, my priority is to share my knowledge with my peers who have been through a similar education system. After all, it’s a “life business” I’m involved in.

Lexis: I see the value in meeting people to offer solutions to their problems. Furthermore, I enjoy interacting with people. Of course I don’t deny there is a high income potential here as well. That’s no doubt another reason why I joined this industry. I wanted to give my parents a better life.

What did your peers say about your career choice?
Timothy: My friends would question my choice of profession. They would ask: Why insurance? My response to them was: Why not insurance? I feel the predominant reason for this negativity is because they don’t understand what insurance is all about. I’m not shy to tell people I’m in the insurance line because this is not a demeaning job at all. I’m proud of what I do and the value I give my clients. Right now, I am proud to say that every single one of my clients is also my good friend (Smiles).

Lexis: I received mixed reactions from my peers. My ex-colleagues from my former company bombarded me with questions when I told them of my decision to decline an offer for a job promotion so that I could join the insurance industry. Although their perception of the insurance industry did affect me initially, it also provided me the motivation and impetus to find out more about the industry.

Honestly, I felt embarrassed to reveal my profession to people in the beginning. When anyone asks about my occupation, I would tell them that I used to be an auditor. I would only reveal that that I’m working for Great Eastern if they probe me further. But now, I’m proud to tell people that I’m representative with Great Eastern. All you need is practice and that’s how I overcame my challenge.

Financial advisors inevitably face rejections on a daily basis. How do you handle such situations?
Timothy: Is the person rejecting us based on his or her own beliefs, or turning you down as a person? For me, I feel the person is actually on the losing end by not allowing me to serve him or her.

I believe in the tagline: we think in your best interests. A good financial advisor has to wholeheartedly put his clients’ needs and wants before his own personal goals and maintain an objective point of view.

Lexis: It’s a matter of interpretation. Of course, we have to bear in mind that people are bound to give rejections and objections. But we must also know that these are not personal. To me, rejections are simply requests for more information. It is our job to clearly explain the reasons and benefits of the appropriate insurance policies to these people.

What are the qualities an exemplary financial advisor possesses?
Timothy: To be a fantastic agent, one has to be diligent and possess all the good qualities that other employers look out for. Personally, the core skills I look out for in individuals are the ambition and motivation to do well. But more importantly, he or she must have a reason to join the industry.

Unfortunately, our flexible work hours also tend to attract people who are lazy and enjoy free time. However, it takes effort to achieve success. Nothing comes free in this world.

Finally, do you have any advice for those interested in joining the insurance industry?
Timothy: Especially since all insurance companies carry similar products, the most important consideration you should make is to get a good mentor who is willing to guide and offer you the best opportunities. In fact, I applied to many agencies representing the various insurance companies before making a decision to join my current team. The right agency will be one with a cohesive and synergetic environment.