Life as a Financial Advisor: Non-Face-To-Face With an FA
A good financial advisor is one of the most sought after professionals in life because of the value that they bring to individuals. Having a good financial advisor is like half the battle won in your journey towards financial freedom. But finding a good financial advisor is no mean feat, especially in an industry that is plagued by unscrupulous agents who consistently mis-sells products for their own short term gains.
That’s why we decided to interview Eugene who is the co-founder & Director of Synthesis Wealth Advisors to give us a glimpse into how he started a team to raise the ethical standards of financial advisory and what it is like to be in the shoes and life of a financial advisor.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: Hi Eugene, thanks for taking the time to have this interview with us. As a starter, do you mind sharing with us how did you get started in the industry?
Eugene: Thanks for having me in this interview. Well, I’m now in my 11th year in the financial advisory industry. Initially, I started out as a Customer Service Officer handling customer servicing for financial products right after my National Service (NS). After I gained more experience and interest in financial products, I switched to become a relationship manager in a foreign bank. That was when I first officially provided financial advisory service to my clients.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: We heard that the remuneration at banks is pretty good, especially foreign banks. Why did you decide to leave the bank?
Eugene: You are not wrong in saying that the remuneration at banks is good. But the remuneration comes with constant product pushing and monthly targets which I grew tired of.
At that point in time, I started observing that people were starting to move away from the traditional way of buying financial products. Millennials and boomers were becoming more financially savvy and seeking resources about personal finances online.
That was when I came across Moneyline.SG, which was one of the pioneer financial comparison sites in Singapore that aggregated and compared different aspects of personal finance like home loan, insurance and credit card. I felt that this was the opportunity for me to build a team of mortgage brokers and independent financial advisors to provide a one-stop financial service to clients. After pondering over the opportunity for a long time, I decided to approach Moneyline.SG and work with you guys.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: Since working with Moneyline.SG, what were the main challenges you face?
Eugene: Like any internet start-up, the main challenge then was to create an identity. At the beginning of this referral model partnership, Moneyline.SG was a financial aggregator site comparing forex platforms, home loan rates and credit cards, it was a pretty new concept then where the ocean is still blue. Moneyline.SG had a good run of being one of the primary mortgage and credit card comparison website in Singapore until the ocean got flooded with similar sites with the same offerings, the margins became too thin as many of your competitors start giving out rebates which stretch the margin even thinner. The whole industry becomes a red sea where whoever has their web page on the first page of google and gives the most rebate will get acquire the customer. The problem here is the whole business is easily replicable and companies throwing out rebates to kill the competition faces more competition from even more new players.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: So is this why you decided to work with us and focus on the life insurance business instead?
Eugene: I decide to switch my focus into insurance as this is not a business where rebates will win you businesses, most of your clients are genuinely seeking second opinion or advice on products which they have gotten or would like to get and I have a team of financial advisors who are ready to serve and advice.
Also, as a financial advisor, I know there are just too many life insurance products out there where consumers get really confused about and my goal is to provide these people with free and quality information on insurance products e.g. whole life insurance and give them the right information to make an informed decision which they have to commit to for a very long time.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: As a financial advisor, what is the day in the life like for you? What are some of your daily routines?
Eugene: For most financial advisors, when you are starting out, you will spend most of the time figuring out who to approach to create the need for them to buy your products. This process usually starts with friends and family. You then hope that you can get a referral out when you provide good service and advice.
Fortunately, this wasn’t my route thanks to Moneyline.SG. Most of my days are spent answering question and queries, filtering out bogus enquiries and following up with clients who are genuinely seeking advice and information through our portal.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: Do you have any long term goals that you set for yourself and your team?
Eugene: Yes, we do. In fact, our long term goal is to create sustainable long term business through ethical selling. You might find that there are black sheep scattered across the financial advisory industry who consistently mis-sells products for their own short term gains with no regards to their client’s financial needs. This really gives us a bad reputation and erodes our customers’ trust in us. Thankfully, the authorities have come out with stringent measure over the years to curb such practices.
We are also focused on leveraging on technology to complement our financial advisory service for our customers. In fact, we are now developing an online financial portfolio management system that keeps track of the client’s portfolio summary online. This can then be easily accessed by both clients and their advisors while doing policy review or at any given time. I strongly believe that this will be the next frontier for us, just like how Moneyline.SG were one of the pioneers to start a personal finance site in those days. The ultimate goal is to take advantage of proven technologies and combine them with human intelligence and experience to provide better-valued advice to our clients.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: We heard that your team is now on a recruitment spree to hire good financial advisors. Do you have any advice for those who are interested in becoming a financial advisor?
Eugene: Yes, we are always on the lookout for good people to join our team as a financial advisor. If you think that you have the right qualities to be a good financial advisor, don’t be shy. Feel free to reach out to me below.
Here’s my personal advice to those who are keen to join the industry. Don’t jump into this line without a passion for financial products and services. While passion alone won’t get you far, you will definitely need to have an interest in financial products and be keen on providing good customer service in order to pick up relevant knowledge and be approachable. The more knowledgeable you are and with the right EQ, the more likely your prospects or clients will buy from you.
Being a financial advisor, you are also an entrepreneur. You not only have to be good at what you do, but you also need to reach out to the right prospects. You need to create your own viable source of leads, be it approaching friends/families, cold calling, roadshows, social media marketing or even starting a site like ours. But regardless of what you do, make sure that your conscience is clear. This is a very regulated industry and such activities are constantly being scrutinised by authorities to ensure proper guidelines and ethics are adhered to. The moment you cross the line, you will be out.
You also need to have a long term approach to your career. The beginning can be excruciating for most people. Most people cannot preserve through the initial stages and will fall out of the industry. But if you can survive through the initial period, you will find yourself on a good trajectory for success.
Moneyline.SG Content Team: Thank you Eugene for sharing with us about your life experience and also your life advice for financial advisors. It was great having you in this interview.
Eugene: It is my pleasure to be interviewed by my own team. Thank you for sharing some of the interesting anecdotes that happened in my career as a financial advisor.