Ah Lian

The older i am, the more ah lian i become. Went to get a third pair of ear holes pierced today. I wondered why and the only conclusion i arrived at was the older i am, the less i care about what people think of me. So that brings my inner lian to the surface. But who cares right? Love the third set of earrings on my ears! 🙂

Purpose of Insurance

I’ve recently had to fight over a few months with the claims director of an insurer to pay a valid claim to my client. The quibble the claims director had was over procedural matters and there was absolutely no doubt that the defaulting borrower owed money. In fact, the borrower already issued an confirmation of debt.

So even though the claim director agreed to pay the claim, he wanted some additional documents executed.

In the end, we had to get my global head to talk to the head at the insurance company to resolve the issue but it’s too late. I received instruction from the client to use them less in future.

I thus wonder if it’s worth it from the insurer’s point of view? Now you’re going to pay the claim but your client has decided you’re a pain in the ass and does not wish to work with you in future. You’ve lost both the battle and the war.

I also wonder if insurers remember why insurance started is because people decided to pool together to share risks and with risk comes claims. As an underwriter, if you had a clean loss record doesn’t mean you’re a good underwriter at all. It just means you were useless in sharing risk. And I’m not saying this because I’m a broker. I started my insurance career as an underwriter albeit in life insurance.

A good underwriter prices the risk correctly such that the risk pool he underwrites contributes a fair premium into the total pool to fund claims.

Well, I suppose some lessons need to be learnt the hard way.

Hong Kong 5-7 June 2016 / GTR Conference

Reflections:
This is my second business trip to HK, which I always find ironic since it took 15 years of working life before work brought me to a country I enjoy visiting so much; and of which among my colleagues, I’m the only one who speaks Cantonese.

I know TST area better than I know Orchard Road. Which probably means that the rate of development in HK is slower than Singapore. I always find new things when I visit Orchard Rd say 4-5 times a year but I haven’t seen much changes in HK the last 5 years.

It was interesting during the Global Trade Review conference today when Singapore was brought up quite a few times as a comparison and highlighted as a competitor/threat to HK. (Comparisons were made in trade, corporate treasury and talent pool). I was reminded that there was a time when Singapore used to use HK as a benchmark in the finance sector but it’s been so long ago that I’ve forgotten about it. Singapore has really matured as a financial hub. It seems like we’re now benchmarking against the world while HK is benchmarking us.

A banker, who used to be my HK colleague’s boss in their previous company, commented to my colleague “how come my hair is so funky”. Indeed, work decorum in Singapore has changed a lot. I wouldn’t have dreamt of having purple and pink hair 15 years ago. In fact, people in banking would hardly have dyed their hair at all but no one cares now. We have come a long way in developing what’s our own acceptable norm.

I used to want to work in HK because I loved the vibrancy of the city. But its lights are dimmer now.

Disappointments

So this has been bugging me most of the afternoon. I was quite disappointed that despite having done training at least twice, and preparing condensed notes on insurance law, my staff still didn’t grasp a very fundamental concept.

I didn’t want to spoonfeed him the answer so I told him to refer to the law notes I gave him before, and to let me know the correct answer to the question by the end of the day.

When evening came, he told me he had the answer… Unfortunately, it was wrong. I then glanced at his screen and saw that he googled the question and that made me even more disappointed. Not knowing a fundamental concept is already bad enough but to then ignore my advice on where the answer can be found?

I give up. 反正我的话都是耳边风。

Sense of Entitlement Indeed

I know we’re only 2 months into 2016 but I may have come across the most ridiculous thing for this year already!

I was proof reading a tender document today when I saw that an overseas colleague listed “sense of entitlement” as a positive trait of a broker. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me so I showed my boss the slide. His response was, “WTF? So he thinks we’ll win the account just by showing up is it?”

US Open Swing and The After Party 2015

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One of the best things about travelling is that it allows you to learn more about yourself and others around you.

Being able to social dance, take private lessons, attend workshops and observe how people dance at both the US Open and The After Party (TAP) have me a deeper appreciation of what flight, quality of movement and musicality means. I couldn’t wait to get home and start trying out some new stuff I learnt from Mary Ann Nunez! (It was too cheem to put into use immediately. LOL).

On a non-technical front, I met some really great people on this trip – advance dancers and pros (Joshua Sturgeon, Edwin Li, Kevin Kane, Diego Borges, to name a few) who had no airs and were happy to dance with everyone.

Of course, I had to meet the odd ball who was sore that the Singapore contingent did very well in all the divisions we competed. He bitched to me that he rotated to 2 Singaporean girls during the semi-finals of the Novice Jack & Jill competition at TAP but while the 2 of us made it to the finals, he got eliminated. Duh? That says a lot about your dancing right?

That aside, I also had the pleasure to get to know some truly warm and friendly people of different nationalities – that’s just amazing.

One of the best things I feel was to get to know my first roomie on this trip. I have to admit I didn’t expect to click so well with her but she’s very very considerate and down to earth.

And I also came to the conclusion that I will never be able to deal with people who are princessy or who have inferiority complexes (NB: there’s a difference between someone with an inferiority complex and someone who’s insecure. I can deal with the latter cos they do not have a chip on their shoulder and all they need is some affirmation from time to time).

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Another highlight of my trip was getting to know my Strictly partner at TAP. I actually danced with him during the semi-finals at US Open but we couldn’t really communicate because he doesn’t really speak English and I speak no French. Luckily, it turned out that one of my roommates at TAP, this girl from France/Switzerland knew him and was the interpreter cum introducer who suggested we partner up to compete in Novice Strictly. We placed second! So exciting! And so so fun! To be able to dance with someone though you cannot communicate verbally – that’s the true spirit of social dancing!

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So that rounded up a fruitful 2 weeks in the US! Lots of things to work on from now till the next trip!

Never Miss a Good Deal!

So apparently in Aug 1949, there was a World Festival of Youth in Budapest where the Soviets used the Hungarians as hosts for this communist organised rally. The International Students Union in Britain invited groups in Britain to participate. Some Malayan and Singaporean students including Goh Keng Swee, Dennis Lee ( LKY’s brother) and Maurice Baker went because it was the chance for a cheap holiday (they only needed to pay for the cost of a return rail fare). 
They were somehow tricked into varying a banner which said, “Malaya fights for freedom”, and as a result, British Intelligence sent their names to the Special Branch in case they became troublemakers after returning home. 
I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read this in LKY’s memoirs. Going for something because it’s a chance for a cheap hol! Hahaha. That’s SO SINGAPOREAN! ROFL!

Competition

Competition is part and parcel of a broker’s life. As the class of insurance I do is largely non-renewable, it has been ingrained in me that I am only as good as my last deal.

I recently had the opportunity to submit our value proposition and meet up with prospects to explain why they should switch brokers and use us instead of their incumbent brokers. The conclusion I got is that my company’s credentials, my background and all the marketing spiel in the world doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, what clients want to know is how you’re going to solve their problems.

And this is something I often tell my younger colleagues too – it’s no point highlighting problems to a client if you don’t produce a solution for it.

While showering tonight, I came to the conclusion that this is my expectations of the political candidates clamouring for my vote. I already know what the problems are. So please give me some practical and credible solutions. Don’t tell me things like you want to be voted in as a “check and balance” on the incumbent – I have never seen a deal won this way, and a general election isn’t all that different from a RFP.

Singlish

From the book, From Third World to First, this is what LKY of his first visit to China in May 1976:

“They had officials in their team who spoke every language and dialect we did. Whether we spoke Hokkien, Malay or English, they had officials who had lived in Southeast Asia, or had served in Indonesia for many years, and spoke Malay, Bahasa Indonesia or Hokkien like natives, and could eavesdrop and understand us. So we could not switch language to cut them out.”

That’s why Singlish  is so important. Hahaha!