Against all odds

When we say that Great Eastern Financial Advisers (GEFA) has been around for a century, we literally meant it. Founded in 1908, Great Eastern is the oldest and most established life insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia. With over SGD 60 billion in assets and around 4.7 million policyholders, GEFA continues to be a major player in the field of life insurance.

That is why, when it comes to financial advising, one can expect that GEFA has mastered the art of inspiring people to shift their sights to insurance in terms of securing their wealth. In a way, financial advising is their language! Are you interested in being a financial advisor yourself? Then let Sim Kiat Hwee, fondly called Jeffrey in close quarters, show you the ropes!

How long have you been involved in the financial industry? How has it been for you so far?

I started out right around the age of 23, so I’m currently in my sixth year in the industry. I’m really passionate about my work, and since I’m a serious workaholic, I welcome the demands of the job. Part of that is to establish a good personal and professional relationship with the agents that I manage. We talk shop most of the time, but as soon as the day ends, we get to relax and share personal stories. It is my hope that apart from being their boss and mentor, I am also someone they can comfortably call a friend.

Was working in the field of insurance what you always envisioned doing?

To be honest, no. When I was a lot younger, I had a vague recognition of the impact of insurance. All that changed when I finally got immersed in the real world, so to speak.

How so?

When I initially got into the financial industry, I was taken aback by the rigidity of rules – we are not given enough room to grow our wealth the way we want to grow it. Desiring a relatively autonomous way to invest, this is when I really looked into all the possibilities insurance companies offer. Seeing both the freedom and protection that people can enjoy when they invest in sound insurance policies, I made the switch to this industry and have not regretted that decision ever since.

Asia is a promising market for insurance, and the sector is still growing despite grim market conditions. How has the perception of being an agent shifted since you first joined the industry?

There has been a clear switch in terms of understanding the value of investing in insurance in the long term. In a way, the winds are blowing towards a direction that’s favourable to the insurance sector. However, at the onset of COVID-19, more and more people have become cash-strapped amidst restricted movement, loss of jobs, and business closures. This may well be one of the challenges of financial advisors – how do we get people to invest when they’re badly hit by the effects of the pandemic?

What does it take to be a successful financial advisor?

Here are some things that I can share with our would-be financial advisors:

  • Persevere. Just because you get a no today doesn’t mean you won’t get a yes tomorrow. Keep at it! Learn, grow, be more confident. Who knows? Tomorrow may be the day that you’ll score the highest investment thus far.
  • Be tough. The road to success can be a lot taxing so make sure you’re in it for the long haul. Remember – quitters are not winners.
  • Work. All that’s worth is worth the sweat and tears. Work towards achieving your goals and be serious about it.

It all boils down to attitude. When you are persevering and hardworking, everything else will follow.

What’s a typical day for you as an insurance professional?

I like the freedom of working for a major insurance company such as GEFA, so I really don’t do things routinely. What I adhere to is what my mentor said, which was to do at least one thing for my business every single day. Obviously, I do more than one, but my priority has always been my work and the ability to truly deliver.

What sort of advice would you give candidates looking to go into or switch to insurance?

When I hire people to become part of our growing team of financial advisors, I look for those who are not scared of change and can easily adapt to situations that are always evolving. Insurance is dynamic. It isn’t rigid at all so if you want to switch to insurance, you have to be ready to dig in and put in the work. It won’t be easy, but it surely will pay off in the long run.

We hope that this has been particularly enlightening for you as you contemplate a career in insurance. More ways to enhance your professional life when you sign up here today!

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