Working in MoneyOwl came naturally for Anton Tan, MoneyOwl’s Associate Advisory Lead, even if it meant turning down some of the more lucrative compensation models available out there for commissioned agents. What attracted him was the opportunity to find purpose in his work – working in a Social Enterprise meant that he could now find success in more ways than one.
But he was not always privileged to find this clarity. When younger, he struggled with the uncertainty of what he wanted to do with his career and grappled with the pressures of keeping up with societal expectations of success.
It was the passing of his mother when Anton was still serving National Service that showed him the brevity of life, ultimately shaping and moulding his personal set of values, principles, and purpose. “Seeing first-hand how a lack of proper insurance coverage and planning could exacerbate an already difficult time, I found it my calling to help families plan ahead,” says Anton.
On His Why
“I would say that what drives me to do my best every day is seeing its impact on entire lives and families,” Anton explained. “When I look at a spreadsheet or table projecting premiums and pay-outs, I don’t just see numbers and figures. I see hopes and dreams, a respectable and comfortable retirement for hardworking Singaporeans, and comfort in the event of a chronic illness.”
Qualifying for Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT)
Qualifying for the MDRT requires advisers to achieve a very high volume of sales in any one year, demonstrated by either annual insurance premium amounts, or commissions earned. As a salaried adviser in a company that advocated low-cost term insurance, Anton qualified through the premium route. Oftentimes, and well deserved, Client Advisers celebrate receiving the prestigious award with an evening of fancy dinners and parties. When I asked Anton how he celebrated it, his response was more muted, “What I was excited about wasn’t so much about the title being something that I could now place behind my signoffs. Instead, I was happy that I finally earned this recognition to lend credibility to the advice I give my clients.”
One of the challenges in Anton’s line of work is convincing the client that his professional advice is indeed the most efficient and appropriate one. When a piece of advice or recommendation is rejected, common reasons include the client feeling that his life, or set of constraints, is too unique for traditional solutions.
But Anton empathises that it is sometimes the fear of taking a bold, new step that paralyses decisions, not the circumstances. And he always wanted to be an enabler, someone who would inspire Singaporeans to lead their best lives. Being an MDRT qualifier takes him one step closer to that goal.
“I wanted my clients to know that in every step of the way, they would have a qualified adviser walking with them. Someone they can trust, both in head and heart,” Anton shared, elaborating how he hoped that this qualification would be the catalyst that nudges some of his clients to take the next step forward with his recommendations and improve their financial future. Coupled with the fact that he, as with all Client Advisers at MoneyOwl, is fully-salaried and operates without commissions, he is hopeful that his clients can have peace of mind knowing that working with MoneyOwl gives them the best of both worlds: conflict-free and qualified financial advice.
Non-commissioned Client Advisers and What It Means
“You make a clear commitment, from day one when you accept the job, to prioritise value over salary. As we are fully-salaried, clients can trust that any recommendations we make are tailored to their benefits, not towards fattening our pockets,” Anton explains.
MDRT or not, Anton shares that this is a collective belief among the close-knit staff of the 5-year-old company. MoneyOwl’s reputation for unbiased, simple, and fit-for-purpose approaches, including centralised planning and reliance on time-honoured investment approaches was built by holding close to heart its mandate to serve, not just in corporate speak but in action and culture. MoneyOwl also received the inaugural Centre of Excellence for CFP Certification – Star Award in 2022 from the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) for its commitment to supporting its staff through the international Certified Financial Planner programme. Anton was one of many MoneyOwl CFPs who were sponsored by the company through the programme.
The road ahead is not easy. Commission-based advisers remain the norm in Singapore, with aggressive sales tactics and emphasis on personal relationships and close contacts. Nevertheless, Anton and the team at MoneyOwl strives to make headway in the industry to avail more objective and transparent advice so clients can make more informed decisions and achieve their financial goals.
But Anton would not have it any other way: “I am now convinced that it is possible to achieve success, both as an individual and a business, while helping others.”
This article was written by Kevin Ng, a Digital Marketing Executive in MoneyOwl. He has worked with Anton for just under 2 years.