Ever wonder what happens at life insurance conferences that financial advisers (or some still call them insurance agents) attend?
If you have the impression that they are cult-like events that drum up a fervour, shout motivational chants and get everyone to focus on selling at all costs, read on!
I had the opportunity to attend the recent 18th Asia Pacific Life Insurance Congress (APLIC) held in Singapore; here’s what stood out for me.
Helping the community gain better financial planning knowledge
Financial practitioners get a lot of stick. But here’s what Guest-of-Honour Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health & Ministry of Manpower, said about the relationship between the Government, financial practitioners and the community.
“I am heartened by how the relationship between the Government and our financial practitioners has strengthened over the years. We’ve been working together to help our residents gain better financial and healthcare planning knowledge, as well as understand public and private healthcare schemes. We also actively engage the community to better shape our policies for the benefit of Singaporeans.
“I am grateful for the good work that our financial practitioners are doing, and I’m looking forward to exploring more areas for collaboration to better the lives of Singaporeans.”
Yup, you don’t often read about this. But there are various on-the-ground initiatives that financial practitioners are actively involved in, volunteering their time and expertise to help the community gain better financial and healthcare planning knowledge.
A purposeful career
Another common perception that people have is that financial practitioners embark on the career for the money, cars, awards and incentive trips.
On the contrary, the message of purpose came out very strongly during APLIC.
Sunny Yap, an agency leader with some 1,000 advisers in his group, shared the importance of building with purpose.
He said that when you have the purpose of helping people, you can do it whether you are rich or poor. And as a profession, financial advisers can give equality to people.
For example, helping people who are sick to have the ability to seek the appropriate medical treatment regardless of whether they are rich or poor and ensuring that those in need can get the necessary help.
“Purpose” was also a message brought to life by Zoe Yap, a financial adviser and end-stage cancer 4-time survivor, who shared her personal experience.
Tough as her battle against cancer is, she said at least money is the least of her concerns, all thanks to insurance payouts from holistic financial planning before she was part of the industry. So far, she has claimed more than $1.5 million, she said.
Recounting that she was an avid runner who ran marathons and a vegetarian, she said insurance was far from her mind then. But thanks to her financial adviser, who was persistent in following up with her, she got started and progressively increased her insurance coverage with holistic financial planning.
All because someone didn’t give up and kept following up, she said. “Most of us, we think we’re nobody. But when something happens, we’re the first person they call. Never give up!”
Continuous education and deep technical knowledge
Various speakers also reinforced the importance of continuous upgrading, training, and education.
Nick Hakes, Director of Market Development Asia, Kaplan Professional, said that the role of a financial practitioner is a privileged one as it is a profession that gets the health and financial insights of the entire family.
Speaking about the golden age of financial advice, he shared the need for strategic alliance of professional advisers, increased transparency and operational efficiency, and deep technical knowledge to solve complex problems for clients.
The changing needs and demands call for a revolution in education, he said. Rethinking what we want advisers to learn and to put into practice; and creating an education pathway based on what consumers value from their adviser.
Setting high expectations and a high bar should be welcomed as “it’s not supposed to be easy.”
The sharing by Colin Ong, an agency leader with 29 years of experience in the industry and an Independent Director of City Developments Limited, further reinforced the importance the industry places on learning and development.
He gave a breakdown of the training, coaching and mentoring programs in his organisation, which are in addition to those provided by his company.
These programs include investment into an online resource network where its advisers are able to learn on-demand from subject matter experts in their different areas of expertise.
Beyond professional development
Let’s face it. A career in the financial services industry is not easy. People’s negative perceptions of the industry and profession can be draining.
This is why, while those outside the industry may feel it takes good looks and a glib tongue to succeed as a financial planner, those in the industry would probably tell you that discipline and mindset are better indicators of sustainable long-term success in the career. (Knowledge and skills can be learned.)
Hence, it was apt that Christina Khoo, principal coach and founder of a leadership & executive coaching, training and consultancy company, spoke on Mindset Matters.
She shared a simple tip that can help to overcome fixed and negative mindset. By utilising the power of “yet” for a growth mindset.
“If you are tempted to say ‘I can’t’, have the courage to add ‘yet’,” said Christina Khoo.
Benjamin Loh, the youngest in Asia to be conferred Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) by the National Speakers Association, shared the importance of adapting to changes to win customers in the brave new world.
A point he made about a successful and experienced financial practitioner who sought his help was an excellent reminder for all. The financial practitioner shared with him, “If I’m not brave to face the changes, I would be gone.”
Still on the topic of change, I thought this was a wonderful quote to end this article on.
Matthew Chew, an agency leader leading a team of some 100 associates and author of the personal development book “Me-ssion: Getting Your Sh*t Together” shared
“Change happens instantaneously. The effects of change, however, happen over time.” – Matthew Chew
About the 18th APLIC
This year’s Congress was organised by APLIC, the Asia Pacific Financial Services Association (APFinSA), and the Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore (IFPAS), and supported by the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau, the Singapore Tourism Board, Changi Airport Group and Sentosa.
Some 900 delegates attended the Congress in Singapore, which was also streamed “live” to over 1,000 delegates, partners and Presidents of APFinSA member associations.
About APFinSA and IFPAS
APFinSA is the largest financial services council in Asia Pacific, represented by nine member associations from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
Established in 1991, APFinSA serves as the pre-eminent cross-border association to address the critical needs and opportunities of the financial advisory profession in the region. Celebrating its 30th founding anniversary this year, APFinSA is also the organiser of the biennial Asia Pacific Life Insurance Congress (APLIC), which is attended by 5,000-10,000 delegates each time.
IFPAS, a proud founding member of APFinSA since 1991, has been representing the interest of financial advisers in Singapore for over 50 years now. From providing a professional development training to educating the community on smart insurance planning and advocating for Association Social Responsibility (ASR) with befriender programmes, community funds and financial literacy talks, the non-profit association has come a long way as the leading voice of the industry on legislative, regulatory and policy-related matters.
IFPAS’ role is to advocate, innovate and inspire on behalf of its members to advance the financial advice profession’s social contribution and positively shape consumers’ perceptions of the financial services industry.
* All pictures in this article are courtesy of APFinSA and IFPAS.
Want to get the latest content when it drops? Join our telegram channel at https://t.me/moneyplayschool