My love for personal finance began 9 years ago when I first entered the workforce with Singapore Airlines as an executive and receiving my first paycheck. Like many others, it felt like a lot of money at that time, having just transitioned from a poor student to full-time employment. I knew that I needed to find a way to optimise but was unsure of how to do so. Knowing myself, I would never commit my hard earned money in the hands of financial salespeople without doing enough due diligence myself.
“Buy Term and Invest the Rest” or BTIR, this was one of the first lessons I learned when I went down the rabbit hole of devouring every information I can find on personal finance. The realisation that there are many more effective ways of planning for insurance and investments beyond the commonly promoted use of high cost whole life plans and investment-linked policies was enlightening to me. It was also fascinating to read about the stories of how various individuals planned out how they like to live their lives through deliberate decisions in their finances. I wanted to do the same for myself and also to share what I learned with others so that they can also make good decisions in their finances and personal lives.
“Our government is like our father”, those were the words that I never thought I would hear in an educational talk on CPF. My first encounter with Chris was on YouTube about 6 years ago. I was searching for information on utilising CPF and SRS schemes when I chanced upon his talk given at a SIAS event. The video was over an hour-long which honestly, I did not plan to finish watching entirely. However, Chris’ ability to present a dry topic like CPF in an engaging way with interesting and funny analogies made it so enjoyable to watch that I finished watching the whole video before I knew it. His down to earth and sincere demeanour easily connected in a way, and I could tell that the audiences felt the same too. You can check out his CPF videos here.
Chris’ talk sparked the curiosity in me to learn more about Providend, and their mission. I found their story on how they started out in trying to change the industry admirable. I felt their strong convictions in fighting for what is right, despite numerous pushback from the industry. I had seen how passionate Chris was in writing about various topics such as why term insurance and low-cost funds should apply to most people, and responding patiently to the barrage of external disagreements. What I had been advocating casually to friends over the past few years, Providend was doing it at full scale and made it their life mission and purpose. Slowly and unknowingly, I became a die-hard fan of the company, rooting for them in every step of their journey.
While looking back, I thought about the many similarities between this story and my personal romantic courtship (that is for another day). It starts with admiration from afar, coupled with self-doubt whether I’m good enough to be part of their journey. Neither my education nor my profession was in related fields, hence what qualifications do I have that can even be considered? Where do I even start to get to know the folks there? All these uncertainties held back any concrete plans and actions that I needed to take.
At the same time, I was progressing relatively well in my career, having the opportunity to work overseas and being on track to becoming an overseas Country Manager for Singapore Airlines. The many experiences gained along the way was invaluable to my professional and personal growth. The chance to live as an expatriate in countries such as Indonesia and Australia was an added bonus, not to mention the attractive benefits that the company provided.
Although life seems to go well so far, I couldn’t shake off the idea that I could be going after my dreams in something that I’m immensely passionate about, in a firm that I admire deeply. It was not until a couple of years back that I gave serious thought about what I need to do to pursue what I love. As Chris often also say, we should first make a life decision and decide on our purpose, then allowing that purpose to guide our financial decisions. And that purpose of doing what I love and making a significant impact on people’s lives was more important than the traditional definition of career success. I wanted to do something that really mattered to me.
From there, I developed a 3-part roadmap for myself to get to where I wanted to be. The first was to ensure that I had enough financially to take care of any uncertainties that might come along in a life-changing decision. The next was to embark on a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) self-study programme to upskill my professional knowledge and credentials in the industry. And the last was to find a way to reach out to Providend, to have them consider my desire to be part of their family. And this last step was filled with the most uncertainties. What if I was rejected? Would I see myself as a failure? If that happens, should I give up or persist? Like any love story, facing the possibility of rejection is never easy but I understood that it is also an inevitable part of the process if it is truly important. Regret was also probably a bigger fear that I had than possible rejection.
Thankfully, it all worked out well and I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to join as a Client Adviser. Like any relationship, getting together is just the beginning. It will take continuous and deliberate effort and hard work to develop myself further, so as to make a positive impact and keep the passion going.
This is an original article written by Tan Chin Yu, Client Adviser at Providend, Singapore’s Fee-only Wealth Advisory Firm.