AS A financial consultant at fin-exis advisory, Ms Kee Siew Poh is a high flier with a difference.
With over eight years of experience in insurance and financial advisory, Ms Kee, 33, is not only a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), she is also a Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Court of Table (COT) achiever in 2007 and 2008.
Achieving membership in MDRT's COT is a career milestone attained by the top 3 per cent of financial consultants in Singapore and the region, she says.
But unlike most MDRT consultants, who typically accept three to five appointments daily, Ms Kee takes only two appointments, at noon and 3pm, each lasting up to two hours.
"I decided on this schedule long ago because I wanted to move away from the normal 'successful' consultant's routine and to better prepare for each appointment.
"It may sound strange, but it is true. Working less means giving more value and attention to your clients and, in the end, you get back more," she says.
A typical day sees Ms Kee in her office at Parkview Square at 9am, reading up on the latest developments in the financial markets and delivering her daily dose of financial updates, or "vitamins" as she calls it, to her clients.
The rest of her day is spent preparing for appointments, handling e-mail correspondence and planning ahead.
"I believe that to be fully engaged, we need to be fully disengaged periodically," she says.
To disengage after work, she jogs, goes night-cycling, plays tennis or simply rests at home.
It was during her second-year internship as an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University that Ms Kee discovered her passion for insurance.
"I was an intern at the Agency Training Department of Prudential when I realised that this career allows me not just to realise my potential but to help others realise their potential too," she says.
"As a financial consultant, beyond helping people achieve financial independence, I encourage others to reflect on what is really important to them, which gives meaning and purpose to their lives," she says.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in business (insurance) with honours in 1997, she worked for insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson for three years before embarking on a career as a financial consultant.
"As a young consultant, it was a very steep learning curve for me in building up my credibility and clientele.
"Many times, I was the first to arrive in the office and last to leave," she recalls.
A believer in continuing education, she attended regional and international conventions such as the MDRT Convention to learn from the world's best practitioners.
"My business model is built on a long-term referral relationship.
"As my clients appreciate and see value in the work I do, they will link me up with their friends whom they think would fit into my client profile," she says.
At fin-exis, she continues to be inspired by her colleagues' dynamism, commitment and passion for this business.
Attitude above aptitude
To those who assume that "crunching numbers" is boring, she says: "It may be boring when it is a job, but it is different when it is a calling.
"What keeps me going is knowing that a claims cheque I deliver may help support a family whose breadwinner has been stricken by cancer.
"I am also humbled by the fact that my clients trust me because I make complex financial jargon easier to understand through heart-warming stories and pictures.
"I think all these would not have been possible if I didn't consciously cut down my workload and decide to give my clients more time."
To those interested in joining this field, she says: "FA (financial advisory) stands for faith and attitude."
She explains: "The road to success is not straight, and tough times will come where we may stumble and fall. That's when we need faith to help us grow, overcome and believe that a breakthrough is possible... And attitude matters more than our aptitude.
"Attitude shapes our thinking and mindset. It also rubs off on others and determines our altitude."