Great Eastern: How financial advisory as a career has evolved over time but its purpose remains

| 11 Jun 2021

Video edited by Azri Bahari

The insurance landscape is ever changing with the rapid pace of technological advancements and changing consumer trends.

To understand how these changes have impacted a financial advisory career, we had up-close and personal chats with three agency leaders from Great Eastern – Mr Terence Tan, Mr Ivan Chee and Mr Timothy Tan.

Trust and customer expectations

Building and having that trust with customers is pivotal, and this remains the key to a strong customer relationship.

 “Trust is the most fundamental pillar in the relationship between client and adviser, adviser and company,” said Terence.

He listed the four keys to building trust - relationship, advice, solutions and service. To him, customers are looking for “the feeling of assurance, the feeling of certainty, that feeling of confidence about the future,” as it is all about empathy in a client-adviser relationship.

As trust takes time to build, financial representatives should renew that trust by making sure that promises are kept and delivered, and responses are prompt to customers.

Great Eastern’s focus on customer-centricity has helped their financial representatives to better engage with customers as there are regular focus groups for them to share with the company on ways to enhance operational processes to provide an even more seamless customer experience.  

New digital work tools

Ivan shared that how a financial representative would interact and engage with customers has changed drastically.

“We had to print out benefit illustrations (BIs) before our meetings and if we go out to see the clients and the clients decide to change what they decided to buy, we had to reschedule the appointments. Creative advisers would bring their portable printers,” he said.

To meet customers’ changing needs and lifestyles, Ivan shared that Great Eastern has invested in digital infrastructure which has greatly helped them in their work. Today, financial representatives can generate BIs on the spot when they meet customers and even provide self-help links for the tech savvy customers to purchase insurance solutions such as personal accident plans, single premium plans and term plans, seamlessly on Great Eastern’s digital platform at their convenience, from the comfort of their homes.  

The other change Ivan shared is the use of financial storyboards to map customers’ financial journey which allows customers to view different simulations of their life stages to make informed decisions for their financial planning. 

Overcoming objections to join a financial advisory career

One of the biggest hurdles for anyone considering to join this career would be the “stigma the society has against insurance agents”, as Timothy shared candidly. Many job seekers are also concerned about not having a fixed monthly salary by becoming a financial representative.  

Timothy recounted that his friends and family members were initially not supportive of his career choice as they did not understand fully what the job entailed. However, he realised that as he served his clients’ financial planning needs, what made him enjoy and believe in the purpose of his job is helping his customers with claims payouts and the reward of knowing their financial needs are met.

He shared, “The meaningfulness of our business sets in, and the next you know, you’re in it for life.”

Great Eastern’s mission as The Life Company to lifeproof people against life’s uncertainties and its customer-first focus, has cascaded down to their financial representatives who believe in putting themselves in the customers’ shoes and serving them with empathy.

More importantly, Great Eastern’s ongoing efforts to equip their financial representatives with digital tools to enable them to perform their jobs more productively, as well as providing the necessary training and mentorship, has placed Great Eastern as the employer of choice.

Great Eastern has also developed learning roadmaps to upskill the professionalism and competencies of their financial representatives with a blended learning approach involving e-learning, virtual classrooms and webinars, covering everything from technical product knowledge to systems and processes, including soft skills.

A long-term career

A financial advisory career is not a shot-put.

For those who may be thinking to join this career, Terence said,” It’s not about the short-term gains, like money or allowances. We always have to put our customers first. Trust is the pillar, and we have to enter each relationship with the perspective that our journey with the client is going to be 20, 30, 40 years long.”

For Ivan, the insurance industry is resilient as people will still need insurance protection. He added, “So if you are looking for the opportunity to grow in a business that can survive a crisis, even a pandemic, I think this is one of the businesses that can.”

In ending, Timothy shared that this is a “robust business” and it is important that new recruits receive strong support in terms of mentorship, training programmes, digital tools and insurance solutions, to enable them to do their job well. And this is what Great Eastern can do for them.

This video and article are in paid partnership with Great Eastern.

More from Great Eastern:

Arming advisers with the right tools for the digital age

Gift of empathy: A cancer survivor on a mission - Zoe Yap, Great Eastern Agent of Life

Make the Shift: Former Financial Auditor to Agent of Life - Cynthia Toh

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