What is your job title and how would you describe your job’s everyday responsibilities and tasks?
I am an executive financial and also an agency owner. As an executive consultant, I will be helping my prospective clients or customers make decisions on how best they want to invest or whether it will be in their insurance portfolio or in their investment portfolio; whether it be in unit trust, in savings program or in education program for their children. So, I would be helping them make the best decision on how to distribute their finances. And as an agency owner, I also recruit, teach, and train, agents to be professional marketers in the industry so that they also would be effectively selling, training, and consulting in the near future.
For someone who is thinking of entering this field, what education or experiences is required for this job?
The minimum education required is to have a Form Five education. Experience is not necessary for this job but it would be an added advantage.
Were there any particular experience or qualities that you had in your previous jobs that had helped you in your current job?
I think being in the sales line has helped me to be more skilful and more experienced in handling and dealing with people as well as their problems. The interpersonal skills that I had then has also helped me to be more effective in being closer to my clients now in identifying their needs and also moving forward to helping them meet their needs through the programmes that I have for them. So, I think those who were in the sales line or have experience dealing with people in their previous jobs, it would help them a lot to give them the confidence and experiences they need in relating to people.
Experience, which is the best teacher in our life to leading our behaviors and changing our mind. Culture, which is also the root for individuals values.Both of them give us lots of influence and changing our life all the times.It is hard to say which changes us the most on such a controversial question.Just like experiences lead us what to think and cultures provide us how we think. They are ...
What do you think are the qualities that all the successful individuals in your field possess that brought them to where they are besides hard work?
I think one of the most important qualities that one needs to have is sincerity in dealing with people. Sincerity simply means that you have to be very sincere in wanting to give them the best; and to give them the best, it would require you to put their needs and wants above your own. It means if you are planning something for them, it has to be something that looks into their welfare and what will benefits them more than how it will benefit you financially – in your commission and in your income. So, firstly it is to be sincere. Secondly, I think good interpersonal relationship is required. When you have good rapport with your clients and your clients trusts you then they always say this, ‘Your client don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care’. So if you possess the quality of being able to have a good rapport with them and to make them trust you, they would also trust in your planning for them. Thirdly, besides hard work, I think one needs to work smart. Just purely working for 12 hours a day will not be as effective as someone who works effectively in half the time. So working smart also could be the other quality. And of course, finally, there must be a desire to want to succeed. Different people are motivated differently, some are motivated by their family members, better life for their family members, while others are motivated by the need to have more money to live a more luxurious life or a more comfortable home, and yet others just want to have the power to be successful. So the motivation also would be useful to help them to achieve where they are.
What are the characteristics that you think you would notice about an interviewee that will set him/her apart from the rest?
I think if you notice that this person is outward looking and not just self-centred, then I think one of the main thing is when you see a person going out and loving meeting people, this is one of the main thing that will set him or her apart from the rest. If this person doesn’t love people in the first place, they can’t be in this line. First, they must love people, love meeting people, love talking to people, and love helping people meet their needs. If these qualities are evident in the interviewee, the interviewee is more likely to be successful as the interviewee will have the characteristics of being sincere in dealing with people. Basically, the person must be outward looking and loves to deal with people.
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How does someone advance in this field? And what career options are available?
Well, after someone has gotten the necessary experiences in this field as an agent, then this person can advance to be an agency owner where he or she then can take on the responsibility to train and mentor someone to be like him or her. They can do this by teaching, training, and moulding them to be as successful if not more. Okay, and once he has been an agency leader then he can move on to build many down lines and as such in the near future he can have a good group of people doing all the sales. This way, the person can choose to just be a consultant in the very near future.
What do you enjoy most about this job?
Like I mentioned earlier, I think it would be meeting people because ultimately the customers or clients are not merely people who have helped me advance in my career but they also became my friends. Many of my clients today are my very good friends and I make friends from different industries and different scopes of lives. When we come together, it is very interesting. I also group them together, so my clients meet my other clients, this way I helped create a lot of friendships and relationships. I think this is what I enjoy most and of course when I get to help someone to solve his financial worries about how to best invest his money or insure himself and give them the peace of mind they need. I think this is the other thing I enjoy most about this job.
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What frustrations do you feel most strongly about this job and why?
I think most agents are very frustrated because this job is all about meeting people and a lot of agents complain that they do not have enough people to meet and they do not know how to get started and they don’t know how to convince someone to part with their money and to put their trust in them. I think I am more blessed by God because I rarely face these problems and I have a lot of referred leads and a lot of centre of influence who do a lot of selling for me too. Well, of course I do face a little frustration with some backed-up work by management or by my staff. These are common frustrations that we as agents face in our field.
What do you do to avoid/overcome these problems?
I think in every job, there will be small hiccups here and there. First of all, I look at what the advantages this job has given me, when I look at the happiness the customers has brought me, the satisfaction that I get from being a successful financial consultant in helping them plan for their future and the many good relationship that I have made, I feel that it is worth all the trouble. Secondly, I try to make objective decisions, if it some frustrations in the management or back-up team, I take positive steps to rectify the problem by talking to them and to make changes in the system so that more can be done in a shorter time and more effectively. Thirdly, for those who have frustrations where they do not meet enough people and do not have enough sales, I think the advice is to keep going out and keep asking and keep selling. Once they meet enough people, they would be able to sell more and as such they would not have these frustrations anymore.
What trends/changes do you see taking place in the industry in the next 3-5 years?
I think in the next few years, you will find that more people will be more interested in getting themselves insured. Currently, there are only a small percentage of people being insured in Malaysia. In the next 3-5 years, I think it would be most likely that the percentage will increase significantly because people are now more conscious of the need to get themselves covered, to make sure they give a more secure future to their families. Also, the other thing is more people are now planning to save for retirements and investments, either for their children or themselves. In the past 20 years, people used to prefer to save their money in the banks and in real estate. Now you can see the trend changing, where they are prepared to diversify and put some into insurance portfolio, children’s education, and investment for retirement. The other trend will be medical, as medical insurance has taken a very great leap where in the last few years it has seen people wanting to get themselves covered so that just in case they do fall sick, their medical bills will be paid up by the insurance industry. These are the trends that I see, as now more people are taking more initiative to get themselves covered as compared to the last few years where you have to do a lot more persuasion.
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If I were to apply for this job based on my current experiences, qualifications and personality, would you hire me?
Yes definitely because you were in the line of sales, so you would have a lot of experience of going out and meeting people. I think most people fear rejection; with such experience you would have had enough rejections along the way to help you be more positive. Secondly, you have also been dealing with people from all walks of life, handling different set of issues and problems, so that would make you very experienced and effective in dealing with them. So I think with such experiences, you would have no problem meeting up with different and advising them and being a consultant.