E-Volutionary Leadership: Embrace the Challenges and Rise to the Top

| 29 Oct 2020

Agency leaders in Singapore gathered yesterday for the virtual 20th Singapore Agency Managers' Conference (SAMC). The event, with the theme "E-Volutionary Leadership! Embrace The Challenges & Rise To The Top", was organised by the Financial Services Managers Association (FSMA) with Asia Advisers Network as official media partner. We bring you the highlights.

Breakthrough in the New Norm

Andy Law

Andy Law, President of FSMA committee 2020/21, said at the opening, “Our SAMC continues with a focus on digitalisation. Our topic this year is E-Volutionary Leadership. As we are still unable to gather physically, we brought our conference this year online.” He thanked his organising team for curating the programme and persisting despite the challenges faced.

Queenie Ang, 3rd Vice President of FSMA and Chairperson for this year’s 20th SAMC 2020, said in her welcome speech, “FSMA believes that the speakers’ foresight can empower the industry leaders in this new norm, making a difference especially for young leaders to understand the potential challenges and more importantly achieve breakthrough.”

“How we handle the situation now will soon become part of history. People are going to look back at this moment and judge us on what we did during this challenging time. We need to take every opportunity and rise up to the challenge,” she said. 

Silver Linings and Positives

Dennis Tan

Dennis Tan, CEO, Prudential Assurance Company Singapore, said in his keynote address, “No matter how bad a situation may seem, there is always some good aspects of it. So similarly, despite a tough year brought about by the COVID pandemic globally, there are silver linings or positives that we can draw hope from.”

Pointing out the first silver lining, he is heartened to see that the industry came together and responded to support those who are in need in the community.

Insurers provided support in the form of donations to assist vulnerable groups, as well as prepared care kits for frontline workers, especially at the peak of the pandemic.

For the customers, the industry demonstrated care in practical ways through the deferred premium payment plan, as well as premium instalment plans,  to help customers in hardships. Many insurers have also provided some form of COVID cover or hospitalisation cover.

“This gives our customers the assurance that they and their loved ones continue to be covered. Times like these remind us all that we have something to contribute. When we put our hearts and minds together as an industry, we can and have made a significant contribution. And collectively the impact we have created, we can all be proud of,” he said.

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He also pointed out the second silver lining, that people are now more aware of the importance of protection. The global health crisis has spurred more people to consult with advisers on how to secure their future, not just for themselves but their family as well.

“There is a 3rd silver lining that we can all be proud of, and that is our resilience and ability to learn and pivot to new ways of working,” he said. “Innovation, especially in the area of digital is what will really help us to embrace the challenges that come our way and rise to the top.”

Step Up and be a Mental Rockstar

Wong Yujin

Wong Yujin, Mental Toughness Speaker and Motivator, provided a framework for mental psyche for the participants to thrive in their business.

Armed with a double degree in law and finance, and experience as a lawyer and investment banker, he shared how he failed in his first entrepreneurial stint and lost all the money that he had earned during his lawyer and investment banking days.

For someone who has never tasted failure before and one who has always been a high performer, it was a low downtime in his life.

Sharing how he turned it around with mental toughness, he said: “I live by this mantra that there are really no problems in this world, there only lessons.”

His 5C’s of mental toughness:

1) Coping - Ability to cope with challenges, adversities and mistakes.

2) Confidence - Having self-belief and trust no matter the situation.

3) Composure - Learning to be calm and composed under high pressure and stress.

4) Concentration - Having laser-focus and avoiding distraction.

5) Cooperation - Building your support network to thrive together. Build a power team.

“Start taking charge of your mind, start taking charge of your mental models” and rise above, he said.

Success is a choice

Sky Chen

Sky Chen is Executive Senior Manager, Top Rookie Agency Manager with Great Eastern Financial Advisers, and 1st runner-up for Top Rookie Leader in 2019 and COT qualifier.

While advising his associates to go for at least three appointments a day, he chooses to lead by example to go for at least 5-6 appointments a day. In between appointments, he ensures that he will be in the office so that his associates can find him and talk about any issues that they face, no matter how busy he is.

“We are like a family, we encourage one another, and we celebrate the achievements and our team members’ milestones,” he said.

Most of his team members make it into the company achievers’ club, ranking them amongst the top 20% of advisers in the company. Some have even achieved this feat in less than a year.

Even though he is a successful leader, he is adamant that his annual production should make up at least 50% or more of his total team production. “As a leader, my mission is to assist my associates, to achieve their goals, at the same time, lead by example, always growing and improving with my team.

“Companies don’t lack managers, companies lack leaders,” he said.


Leadership in the New Normal

Eunice Yuen

Eunice Yuen, Group Financial Services Director and the Top Group Director with Prudential, spoke about leadership in the new normal. 

There are two leadership approaches – traditional and emerging. Especially in a crisis, a leader needs to be more adaptive in terms of the approach to lead, she said.

Among the examples she quoted, instead of just relying on a mentality that the leader is the expert, leaders now must also adopt a learner’s mentality and attitude to widen their perspectives. This includes learning from others inside and outside of the industry and even digital natives in the team to aid digital transformation.

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As a leader today, Eunice reminded that the focus must not be only on productivity. She said that for some, this could be the first crisis that they are facing in their life or career. Hence, it is important to show care and concern, too, when leading the team in navigating through this crisis.

Culture is Destiny

Casia Ong

Casia Ong, Financial Services Manager, and the Top Rookie Agency Manager with Prudential, said in her session, “If you aspire to create a top team, it is important to create a strong team culture.”

Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organisations, culture is destiny, she said.

Sharing her team culture, she uses the acronym G.T.O.

  • Grit
    • Perseverance
    • Passion to see things through

“It is different from enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can be a moment. But you need to have the perseverance to see things through to the end,” she said.

  • Transparent
    • Honest and open communication
  • Ownership
    • Monitoring own progress
    • Finding own solutions
    • Suggesting new initiatives

And it’s when you have a strong sense of purpose and a strong team culture that people will be attracted to your team, she said.

Scaling from zero to $30 million

Alvin Poh

Alvin Poh, entrepreneur coach, and co-founder of Vodien Internet Solutions that was acquired for $30 million, shared the attitude of an entrepreneur: “try fast, fail fast, learn fast” and move on from there.

Over the years, he has consolidated and crystalised a 5E scale engine he used to scale his business from zero to $30 million.

The five principles in a sequence are: Evolve, Envision, Empower, Engage and Execute.
Given the limited time, he focused on two pillars: Empower and Engage.

For Empower, he shared what it takes to build a powerful company culture. Oftentimes, company culture is mistaken for company welfare like free beer and a well-stocked pantry, and that is not the case.

The focus has to be on the intangibles, and he identified three things what all employees want:

1) Meaning - Creating a sense of purpose within what employees are doing.

2) Autonomy - Having reasons why it is important to do something, ownership and accountability.

3) Mastery - A sense of progress that things are moving forward and a sense of achievement.

Next, he elaborated on the Engage pillar and designing the customer journey. It is made up of five steps and these main goals:

1) Discovery
- Attract customers to your business and increase awareness
- Educate customers

2) Consideration 
- Convince customers that you are their best choice

3) Conversion
- Convert customers
- Increase revenue per customer

4) Fulfilment
- Ensure customer success
- Maintain high customer satisfaction
- Promote positive advocacy.

5) Renewal
- Ensure renewal
- Promote positive advocacy
- Reduce churn

He emphasised, “Fulfilment part is absolutely crucial. In Vodien, we had 110 support staff and only five sales staff”. Make sure customers are satisfied and “basically to ensure customer success”.


Follow FSMA on Facebook and watch the replay of the conference here

Report by Benjamin Ang & May Chinmay-Low

Keen to explore any collaborations with us or our partners?  Reach out to us at Connect@AsiaAdvisersNetwork.com

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