Starting from this month, Linnet Lee, CFP CERT TM, IFP® and CEO of FPAM, will regularly share real life stories of financial planning professionals encountered in her own fascinating journey in the industry. She begins with this poignant introductory article:
Smart Investor inspired me with their article on the importance of financial planning which showed the roles played by different types of licensed financial practitioners who support this profession. These professionals help people make the change in how they manage their personal finances.
Before I share those stories, here’s mine. Several years into my life as a unit trust agent, I found that marketing a product for commission without regards to my client’s financial well-being was short-termed and tiring. Most of us did not know better and some of the things I tried would be something I would not even do today.
Somewhere at the back of my mind, I recalled learning about consultative selling during my pharmaceutical sales days. The 3-day workshop had us putting ourselves in the shoes of the doctors we called on, to market patented drugs.
At the same time, the new CEO of BHLB Pacific Trust, Mr Paul Low had just come back from US, with a wealth of sales experience from the insurance industry. He brought with him a systematic and professional sales process, which needed time to pick up, but very effective when implemented.
A Passion to Professionalise the Industry
Armed with the knowledge and process, I started putting a plan in place on how I would want to professionalise unit trust planning. I took an interest in my clients and what they want their money to do for them. It took time for me to develop a working system and at the same time, creating awareness in my clients about good strategies and plans before investing.
The effort paid off as my clients liked the idea of knowing why they invested and the service they can expect from me. Over time, I recommended services I did not offer as I felt it would help my clients in their investments. Being Asians, relationship is very important, and this resulted in my clients asking me to help them in procuring these services.
Initially, not wanting to divert my focus, I worked with other financial intermediaries. However, the way they were able to help me support my clients greatly differed from the way I wanted to serve my clients. Hence I started beefing up my knowledge and increased my scope of services to insurance and estate planning, referrals to tax accountants, and even real estate agents.
Foray into Financial Planning
It was a natural progression for me to go into financial planning. I took up my CFP certification programme so that I can be licensed, completing all 6 modules. I am grateful for the knowledge and competency my experienced lecturers imparted. I looked forward to my classes on weekends as they were able to share the latest updates of the industry and check my understanding of the syllabus.
I was blessed to have known Mr Shawn Brayman, Founder of PlanPlus Inc who brought with him a wealth of financial planning knowledge from the US. Like a sponge, I absorbed all that he had to share. I applied what worked in Malaysia and discarded those that did not.
I found that approaching a stranger on financial planning was easier if you have mastered good communication skills, which is beyond having good English. I started with modular plans and progressed to comprehensive plans.
Some people asked me why I did not stay on and build on what I started whilst the skeptics threw remarks such as “Yeah, you cannot earn a living doing financial plans, therefore you are back working.”
A Bigger Vision and Mission
Well, I wanted to do more, at a bigger scale and faster pace. Being where I was, it would take ages for me to build and my reach is limited. Working in a non-profit organisation like Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) gave me the platform to do more nationally, help passionate and ethical financial intermediaries and planners who, in turn, want to help the Malaysian public to be more financially savvy with their money.
There is much work to be done as I enter my second year with the Association. I look forward and am grateful to the stakeholders who support the Association’s vision and mission which I truly believe in.
So my financial stories are to share with my readers the real life experiences of others so that you can make better and more informed decisions in your life. I hope you will be also be entertained while you learn.