14th May 2020
Moving out of Comfort Zone – HR to Insurance
In July 2017, I made a life-changing decision. I left my corporate HR job with a stable $200k compensation package and joined the Insurance industry to be a Financial Adviser.
Naturally eyebrows would be raised at this moment – WHY? Similarly, I have been asked by my close inner circle of family members and friends on several occasions the following questions:
Why are you leaving HR when you are riding on the high wave of your career?
Wouldn’t you feel that your well-established HR experience and skill sets be wasted and go down the drain?
3. Why Insurance?!
Ask me if there was any fear or uncertainty. Yes, of course! I would be lying if my reply was a curt NO. Moving out of my own comfort zone of HR in which I had been operating in the last 11 years is scary!
Fear of change is an ubiquitous common fear which most of us have and we like staying in our own comfort zones. Take for instance if you always prefer to take a certain route to work or school, but due to unforeseen circumstances, you have to take a detour one day. How would you feel about the out of norm action? You might get uneasy and even frustrated because you are derailing from your usual habits.
Fear of change is an ubiquitous common fear which most of us have.
And to clarify, both my Husband and I are not rich. We do not have substantial savings in our bank accounts. Neither do we come from rich family backgrounds. Rather we are just a normal married couple and slapped with the standard financial commitments of an apartment, car, kids’ education and household expenses. Every month a big substantial of our income goes to pay for these.
In Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) class, I have learnt that to take massive actions, it would require the “Ecology” (Family and loved ones) to agree and to be in this journey with us together. After a long discussion with my husband, I decided to take the leap of faith because we both believed it was the right decision for me and considering my own personal family circumstances due to my two young kids of age 5 and 3 respectively.
Here are the main few reasons why I made the career transition:
Flexible Working Hours.
This is what many working mothers yearn for and desperately in need of especially if the kids are still young. I am sure many parents can resonate with this situation – Seeing your phone ring and the phone screen shows the school office number out of the blue during our working hours. Most of the times they are not going to be good news. Usually it is because your child is sick or unfortunately had an accident in school so the teacher is calling to notify you to bring the child back. Therefore having the ability and control of my time is extremely important in such cases of exigencies.
Having said that, it is all about managing our own time wisely and I do have a choice. If I want to be able to spend good quality time with the kids the entire day, it would mean I have to either work at night after they sleep or I allocate my morning 5am to catch up on the outstanding work commitments. Prioritising of work and personal activities is my modus operandi.
No More Overseas Work Travels.
Due to my previous corporate HR jobs, I had to travel overseas for work. As a result, I missed out many important milestones of my kids and also school organised events such as Kids’ Breakfast with Parents. To us, it could be just a normal breakfast but to the kids, it meant the world to them. Subsequently I learnt it from the school teacher that my back-then 3 year old daughter, Claire went around telling her classmates and Teachers that her mummy ditched her and took an airplane to fly to US without bringing her along.
There was this guilt episode that remained etched in my mind. I was overseas for a week and upon my return, I realised that Claire was still coughing badly (she had started to cough before I flew off). So we brought her to the Paediatrician. Usually the doctor would ask what’s wrong and I shared my concern that I was worried Claire might contract bronchitis due to the prolonged cough. The PD was upset and told me straight in the face that she already had contracted severe pneumonia and needed to be hospitalised immediately. Tears started to stream down my face and nothing can describe how guilty and bad I felt as a Mother…
In the same year, we also found out that Claire has this congenital hole-in-her heart medical condition called Atrial Septor Defect (ASD) that likely requires surgical intervention in the coming months. With the cumulative guilt episodes over the years, it made me decide to ditch the corproate role and be here home-grounded in Singapore so that I could be physically with her whenever she needs me.
Golden Age Period to Instill the Right Values.
To me, imparting the right values is far more important than chasing the academic success of the children. Values such as Respect for People, Integrity, Humility, Responsibility, Resilience are all closely related to EQ and how they relate to people in life.
In Chinese, there is this idiom saying《言教不如身教》which means that explaining in literal words is not as good as teaching by example through actions. And the best way for us to impart these values is to be present and have close interaction with the kids so that we can be good role models to them. It is at this young tender age that forms the golden period for us to lay the right foundational bricks to help them instil and internalise these values. By then, I do not need to worry about their future anymore because I know that they will be successful in their own ways as long as they continue to live by these values.
Insurance enabled me to have more personable human touch.
When I was working in the corporate environment, what was really important was the organisation’s business performance and making the best strategic decisions amongst many macro and micro factors so that it aligns with the overall business directions. Then we would translate that into more bite-sized actionable plans to cascade downstream to the employees. However over time, I realised that I lost the opportunity to have more personable human touch with people because as you move up the corporate ladder, the less likely you are able to do due to the topdown work nature.
Insurance is a totally different ballgame. You need to be truly present and be there to listen to the stories of every individual, have the human touch and empathy in order to decipher their needs and priorities. Perhaps because I am an introvert by nature, the ability to have such one-on-one interactions are extremely valuable. By having such close and intimate discussions, it is in fact a bottom-up approach because I am relating on an individual basis and this is far more impactful and self-satisfying for me.
Insurance enables me to live a more well-connected and balanced life. For those who have kids and are working parents would definitely resonate with me on this. For the past 5 years after having the first kid, Claire and subsequently Caydren came along, it had been extremely hectic for me. I was undertaking the multiple roles of being an Employee, a Mother, a Wife and lastly not forgetting a Daughter. Juggling these multiple hats is truly not an easy feat. Time is so scarce and during weekends, the free time has to be segregated fairly and it would not be easy to catch up with friends.
On the other hand, insurance has enabled me to do a greater outreach in terms of my varying degrees of friends and acquaintances. This was the best oppportunity to even reach out to my friends whom I had lost touch with. I recently just found out that one of my Primary 1 school friend and I are now colleagues in the same agency! I also managed to reach out another primary school friend whom we had not met for 10 years.
Insurance allows me to fulfil my overall life purpose. Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life. It’s about what you INSPIRE others to do. I have realised there is still an inadequate knowledge gap between what others think they need for financial coverage versus what is truly required in the event of different life events such as kids’ education or life-threatening crisis.
Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life. It’s about what you INSPIRE others to do.
Sometimes the clients I approach would tell me that they already have insurance coverage already and are reluctant to hear more. However when I probed further, and worked out statistically for them, only then they would realise that there is still such a big shortfall in terms of coverage. And what is truly even more terrifying would be if they are the sole breadwinners and they have family members who are financially dependent on them.
There were also occasions in which clients would tell me that they already have their financial advisers who had been serving with them for a long time. I would ask them for an opportunity to let me review as an independent adviser and there is certainly no obligation. What I want to do is to continue what I had been doing in my previous job of Compensation & Benefits. Optimising every single dollar and cents of the client to maximise their Returns of Investment (ROI).
Some might have purchased duplicated coverage over the years or some have had old policies which are not serving the best interests for them now due to new enhanced plans. And what I have done for these clients was to successfully helped them to restructure their policy plans portfolio either on a cost-saving basis (paying lesser premiums per month) or cost-neutral basis (zero increase in premium) and yet ensure that their coverage is now even higher than before. It is only during such reviews that they realised my value-added service to them.
In fact some of my recommendations (not to buy) might be detrimental to my own financial interests. Nevertheless I am more than happy with this because this industry is all about serving the needs of the people with a sincere and genuine heart. And at the same time provide them with the adequate knowledge and advice to inspire them to make the right decisions for themselves and their loved ones within their current financial means.
14th May 2020