Singaporeans are a weird bunch indeed. We strive to get ahead by any means possible, categorically (though unflatteringly) known as being kaisu.
We cram the Expo when there are SITEX Roadshows, because queuing up for hours for that free printer a fair trade.
We use packets of tissue paper to chope our seats, since nothing marks out personal space better than a nondescript pulp product.
We insist on parking in the lot nearest to the lift or entrance, because Lord forbid we walk another 25 steps for nothing.
While self-serving behaviour is nothing new, and you probably could throw in a dozen (or a dozen dozen) more examples of kaisu behaviour, we are uncharacteristically gracious when it comes to making full use of our Financial Planner (Or Insurance Agents).
Oh yes. There is no typo there.
We are gracious. We do not maximise utility that our Planners can potentially provide.
How so, I hear you ask.
Why, isn’t it obvious? Most of us have the Wham-Bam-Thank you-Mam approach to financial planners. Think about it, and when was the last time you met your Agent?
If the answer to that question is: Beyond instant recall, then this article is meant for you, my friend.
Embrace the kiasu side and let the true blue Singaporean in you shine. I’ll show you how.
1. Insist on Periodic Reviews
Let’s face it. Insurance is just about as interesting as a race between two snails. Policies bought (or unbought) can easily be forgotten, just as their initial motivations for buying (or not buying) them.
Here is where a Planner worth his salt comes in. He is supposed to catch up periodically with you to analyse your situation. Have your financial goals changed? Do you plan to have a family? Are you about to pursue a dream of starting a business?
If your Planner doesn’t initiate any periodic meet up with you, there is no legal restriction on contacting him first. (Trust me, I checked.) Periodic reviews are for him to ensure that any changes to your financial situation or plans are properly prepared for.
Periodic reviews also allow you a chance to refresh your memory on your own policies – do you remember why you bought a certain plan? Is is still relevant? Do you need to address any shortfalls now? Could there be coverage that you no longer need?
Takeaway: Meet your Planner at least once a year, to give him and yourself the chance to refresh your memories and ensure that your coverage stays relevant.
2. Get yourself (financially) educated
Woah! And you thought this article was all about squeezing more out of your Agent? Isn’t he supposed to be the one that is financially educated?
Well yes. But that doesn’t mean you should blissfully leave yourself ignorant about the features, functions, and clauses of your policies. You need not know every technical detail, but to weigh the pros and cons of taking an Automatic Premium Loan, you need to first know what it is.
The more conversant you are with the basics, the more you can get out of the discussion with your Planner. Why is this plan recommended over the other? Solely based on the illustrated value? But illustrated values are merely a projection and never guaranteed, so what is the true reason for the recommendation?
The more knowledge you garner, one side benefit is that you will get better at sussing out which agent is really acting in your interest. Doesn’t that appeal to your kiasu side?
Takeaway: Learn up at least the basics of Insurance, so as to have deeper and more meaningful discussions with your Planner. Having a knowledge base also allows you to suss out good Planners more easily.
3. Update your Financial Planner on a timely basis
Think of him like your mum. You probably fill your mother in on every big occasion in your life. Most of us wouldn’t dream of getting married without telling our mums. Can you imagine having a baby and leaving your mother in the dark?
These are just 2 out of many other examples of big changes in your life that both your mum and Planner need to know. Why is he so special? Why does he get to partake in all the ups and downs of your life?
Because Life Insurance covers the big, important events in life. And there are many plans out there that allow you to purchase additional cover without underwriting, during these big, important events. Getting married for one. Having a newborn is another. Even graduation from tertiary education is one such example.
Even without this perk, updating your Planner on a timely basis on these big events will allow him to suggest changes to your coverage as necessary. For example, if you change jobs, your risk profile may change. (Think Scuba diving instructor)
Takeaway: Your life is dynamic, and so are your coverage requirements. Updating your Planner in a timely manner lets you adjust your cover accordingly before it is too late.
Join me on the Kiasu side
This (in)famously Singaporean trait need not necessarily be detrimental if used correctly.
While we tend to try and maximise gains like Air Miles, petrol discounts, and freebies, ironically we tend to leave our one biggest financial advantage out in the cold.
Life Insurance is the very bedrock upon we build our financial future, and the Financial Planner we engage in laying that foundation is one of the most important professionals for this endeavour.
Isn’t it time to get more kiasu about using them properly?
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.