My last two weeks were spent in confinement, i.e., Reservist and although it has not been great on work, it did provide me with time to re-connect with the guys as well as read up on a great passion of mine - investments. Forex is such a tricky thing!
It also gave me time to address concerns people had about what I did. These are also questions that (would-be) clients ask me all the time so I figured that it'd be useful to compile a few here.
I would like you to get to know me better as a person, and hopefully from there, we can explore a future client-advisor relationship.
1) What would make you leave the industry? Both in terms of financial remuneration for yourself or external forces either planned or unplanned for.
Financial remuneration would not be the reason why I left this industry. In fact, it is my intention to continue servicing my clients until the day I die or incur some kind of cancer.
I have been very upfront with many of my clients about my intention to retire early overseas. After much thought and strategic planning, I do not believe that I need to leave the industry in order to do so. There is a certain joy and fulfilment that comes from being able to teach my clients what a responsible adult would not abandon for self-interest. I.e. I do not intend to drop everything and just go.
However, I have shared with others about my Sugar Mummy condition before. If a sugar mummy giving me $100,000 a month were to say that she would only do so if I quit my job completely, there is a good chance that I would.
Obviously I would do a proper handover-takeover, but I'm sure such a sudden event would be very inconsiderate to my clients. Given the statistical improbability of this scenario, I can safely say that if there were a woman like that, I would probably selfishly drop everything anyway. A guy can dream, right?
If you are not as selfish as me in this regard, leave a comment below.
Remember - hot sugar mummy and $100,000 a month.
2) And what does my timeline look like?
Ideally, I would no longer need to take on any new clients after the age of 36. Anyone who is not a pre-existing client looking to engage my full-time services to the utmost of my abilities may be disappointed.
3) You tend to take a strong stance when it comes to financial bloggers. Is there anyone who you take seriously, or is it just because you don't consider them professionals?
Well, just the other day it was written in another financial blogger's post that I am a weirdo. Upon seeing this, I wept bitterly for a few minutes (no, I didn't).
On a serious note, it is very hard and I regret that my strong opinion can sometimes create conflict. Financial bloggers can throw out advice, creating consequences that they are not accountable for. Meanwhile, Financial Advisors like myself would be publicly stoned (figuratively). As a result, I tend to have issues with the content they publish.
Non-professionals sometimes have a tendency to run their mouth off and someone could suffer. I do not particularly admire this behaviour. primarily because the things I say here have been specially chosen with a degree of cautiousness, and more information can and should only be provided with a proper consultation.
Unlike them, I cannot say the many other things I would like to say without feeling responsible for the potential ramifications on a client's portfolio.
But I also see professional attributes in financial bloggers, regardless of whether I agree with their content. For most online people too, actually - I could have a keyboard match with them over an issue for an hour and yet still show my support for their next post. The information matters as much as the person, and I'm too old to be mindlessly prejudiced.
Some examples of financial bloggers I take seriously and why:
I started seeing some of Timothy's posts back when I was in NS and Uni. As my financial sense was not great and I am a very slow, visual learner, the cute infographics and short articles were very entertaining and easy to understand.
For beginners, these can be helpful and easy to process.
Many clients are intimidated by where to start - and when they do their own research to appease their lack of security, they end up stumbling and making all sorts of mistakes. DnS makes life easier for them.
DnS does not make life easier for ME, but still. A client who has questions and eventually feels strongly convicted in their purchase with me is as good a client as one who trusts me from the get-go.
One article that was particularly interesting is this.
Kyith left a very strong impression on me just before I began this career back in 2016. At the time, I was talking to other tied agents in the business. I had poor social and sales skills and so I needed an second opinion (I had yet to become buddy buddy with my colleagues).
Delving into the different bloggers gave me the impression that unlike DnS, some people were dishing out some serious financial advice without any kind of checks and balance. This inevitably led me to coming across Kyith's blog.
Since the very first article I read, I have been so impressed by him.
Aside from the obvious degree of sheer skill and knowledge, it's why I occasionally poke at him or say that he's my idol even though I've never met him in real life. I even keep up with every article he's released even though we disagree on many things.
What I see when I read Kyith's articles is an absolute love for writing and money.
This was someone who could maintain a full-time job and spend the weekend writing and publishing a mini book 20-pages long espousing abstract investing concepts for very little financial renumeration. I got the feeling that he must enjoy what he was doing very much. In that sense, many financial consultants can learn from him.
He does not take into account Google's preference for short and simple posts for for viewership and monetary purposes. Instead, he subjects his readers to a book when they are expecting a 5-minute read. He just writes what he wants and quite passionately, I think.
I find that kind of inspiring.
If my senpai ever noticed me, I would be quite emotional (no, I wouldn't). You can read his stuff here, although it may be quite hard to understand. Even for me, I usually read an article more than once before I get it. :/
4) You seem to genuinely enjoy helping people with their personal finance planning.
Wouldn't you rather be a salary-based adviser, where you can devote all your focus to planning for your clients, and not have to worry about finding leads or closing sales?
When I entered this line, I was told that between 45 - 65% of the time would be spent prospecting. That's a crazy amount of time, though. Some of it is useful because you get to reach out to people who had needs they did not realise they had. But the majority of it.. Is wasted.
(That's why referrals are so important - even though it can be uncomfortable for a client, it actually allows me to serve both client and referral better.)
To be honest, if factors like compensation and work schedule-flexibility were not an issue, I'd rather be a salary-based advisor. But I don't think that these two are factors that I can resolve anytime soon. I need both to do my job efficiently.
The two reasons might look very selfish, and to some extent they are, but knowing that my hard work will translate into something that is mutually beneficial matters a lot to me.
When I was in the army, I was initially a chiong-sua person (someone who rushed up hills i.e. to give it your all). It was a combination of my ethics as well as fear. I actually behave mostly the same way right now in this line. But before army ended, I stopped chiong-ing (rushing). No matter how hard I worked, I was getting paid the exact same amount as people who worked half as hard as I did. As a result, I started to lower my standards, seeing as there were no consequences for doing so and no benefits for having them.
I feel some shame looking back on it.
Even my motivations for selling ethically - which I always proudly say that I do - is based off studies of business success.
(Some people don't like whole life plans/ILPs simply because of the higher commission for agents without actually considering how they as clients benefit.)
The majority of successful businesses realised long ago that ethics have a significant quantitative financial value.
The clown who sells unethically once will fly high and crash later. The financial benefit to you in the long run is far, far less if you start your business putting yourself ahead of the client. Selling a whole life plan to someone who only needs 20 years of protection just makes you look like a douche, and people will figure it out. They always do.
Conversely, I can see a degree of translation between commission and my effort. Even more importantly, prospecting someone makes the relationship blossom in a manner that I don't see as much with someone who comes to me of their own accord (at least most of the time).
Seeing that I am rewarded for my effort, I put in much more effort afterwards, and it benefits everyone more than if I were to be 'capped' at a particular salary level. That's probably why so many bankers come over to this industry, even though they actually have a better reputation and potentially more versatile products.
I would love to work as a salary-based financial advisor when I'm in a stage of my life where I can afford to be less selfish. Where the motivation for my effort is more intrinsic rather than extrinsic. To me, it is almost something like charity, or when lawyers fulfil a quota of pro bono work.
I would like that very much someday when the people in my life do not need every bit of my effort to be translated into something tangible (money), because that's how it is now. I think for adults reading this, that is how it is for everyone who has yet to achieve financial freedom. So hopefully you understand.
As for enjoyment, I am not an amazing human being, and I'm a little sorry for that.
But my clients will benefit the most from my selfishness, because whatever I do that is best for them is also best for me - and I derive a tremendous amount of joy from that, regardless of commission.