Insurance through a millennial's eyes

Empathy is important in this information-rich but time-poor generation, says rising insurance star

Insurance through a millennial's eyes

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Goh Ming Shan (pictured), financial planning manager at Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore, is among the next generation of insurance leaders, having won the ‘Insurance Rising Star’ award at the inaugural Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) Financial Planner Awards in 2018.

According to the 32-year-old, she never thought she’d be in insurance as a career, having studied mass communications in school. After nine years as an advertising professional, she made the shift to insurance.

“As I was approaching my 30s, I found myself starting to yearn for a job with a higher purpose,” Goh told Insurance Business. When I embarked on this career, everything clicked for me. Insurance is a fulfilling career that allows me to put my time and skills to good use, by adding real value to the lives of people around me.”

Goh recounted seeing the devastating impact of the Great Recession on the finances of her friends and family and it made her realise the importance of financial planning and eventually enter the insurance industry in 2015 as a financial planning consultant.

However, the switch wasn’t easy, and Goh admits it was difficult to adjust at first.

“It was daunting to start over in a business I wasn’t familiar with, but I adopted a ‘student mindset’ and seized every opportunity that came my way,” she said. “The learning curve was steep and humbling to say the least, but the personal and professional growth made it all worthwhile.”

Goh cited hard work, planning her client’s money as it if were her own, and a little bit of luck as the ingredients to advancing her career in insurance. And it paid off, with 2018 being a breakout year for her. Last year, she won the FPAS Insurance Rising Star award and was promoted to financial planning manager, where she mentors a group of junior advisers on top of her existing portfolio of clients.

Connecting with millennial clients
One unforgettable experience, according to Goh, was having Mandy (not her real name) as a client earlier in her career.

“At a young age of 24, [Mandy] was providing for her parents and supporting three younger siblings through their tertiary education,” Goh said. “She did all that on a gross monthly income of SG$3,000, and saved SG$1,000 every month.

“I was inspired by her tenacity and discipline and was determined to help her improve her quality of life, she said. “I took time to understand her financial commitments, aspirations, and personality. Through open communication and working closely together, we designed a customised financial portfolio that leverages on various plans from TMLS to meet her two main areas of concern – to protect and safeguard her and her family against unforeseen events, and to help her grow her savings.

“Although she is younger than me, I’ve learnt so much from Mandy through her ups and downs, and we became fast friends,” Goh said. “I am very proud – both as an adviser and friend – that she is excelling in every goal she sets out to achieve.”

As demonstrated in Mandy’s story, Goh believes that empathy is key in connecting with clients, especially fellow millennials.

“Coming of age in a fast-paced digital age brings about a unique set of challenges for millennials, especially with growing competition in employment and rising costs of living,” she said. “We are information-rich but time-poor. Our realities are shifting, too. The definition of personal success is now vastly different for millennials as compared to previous generations.”

As a result, one size no longer fits all, and Goh said that this makes it important for financial advisors to be invested in the vision their millennial clients have for themselves, and to understand what makes them tick.

“My role is to understand their needs and empower them with financial literacy and to collaborate with them to find solutions that will enable them to pursue their aspirations without financial stress,” she said. “Lastly, millennials are a smart bunch – so keep abreast with the times and don’t patronise them!”

Always aim for self-improvement
“There is still so much about the industry I have yet to explore,” Goh said. “I am currently working towards becoming a Chartered Financial Consultant, and I am looking to take up courses in underwriting and actuarial science after that.”

Aside from learning the technical aspects of insurance, Goh advised fellow young insurance professionals to have the right attitude and approach to their career.

“Be proactive, stay humble and never stop learning – even when you feel like giving up, and even if you feel like you have made it,” she said. “Be a role model for your clients, especially financially. You will surprise yourself by how much you can grow as a person. Also, it is perfectly normal to have momentary crises of confidence – I’ve had plenty of those.”

Amid her busy career, Goh said that it’s also important to take time for herself.

“I used to be terrible at taking personal time, but I have since learnt that it is important to take time off to rest the body and mind. Yoga clears my head and keeps me grounded, so I try my best to always make it to class. I love food too – my close friends and I catch up every Friday evening at a new restaurant we want to try!”

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