I don’t really know how stubborn is an ox, or a mule, but i know i am stubborn.
My stubbornness is validated when it comes to manifest my belief about always putting the client first.
And i will stand firm to make sure that this will not be compromised even when someone comes to me presenting an opportunity for me to conclude a transaction that will add on to the profitability of my practice as an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA).
First thing first, i believe that it is imperative for me to care for the client’s best interest and always putting it on top of the list because my work requires that i have a duty to care, a fiduciary so to speak. As such, i would like to believe wholeheartedly that clients not only come to me for purchasing of financial product or for advise as to what products suits to their objective and unique situation, but they have come to me for professional advice which should be unbiased to begin with.
Since the day i decided to get involved in the financial services industry, i have knew that i am stepping into this not with the anticipation to be rich or be wealthy by making high volume of transactions; but instead, making the right transactions.
Right in the sense that, it is right for the clients, which may not always be right for profitability.
But it is not easy, i discovered that the system was put in place to encourage a more sales-focused culture than client centric culture. Perhaps that is why we see sales quotas, promotion quotas, maintenance quotas, sales contests, promotion campaigns etc, these are means to promote efficiency in sales turnover and sales generation.
But hey, i was lucky and blessed, that i managed to still fulfil the maintenance quotas to stay in the business; i said i am blessed because i managed to get enough people whose need and objective actually fitted into what i could do for them, which essentially means i was able to do it by not compromising the client-first promise. But then, if you could get pass the quota by doing good, you might still find it frustrating sometimes as most of the advisors out there would be tied to a Single product provider, which would limited the choice of products and solutions they would be able to design for the client. This was when i started to tell certain clients and prospective clients that they had to go find someone from some other firm to buy something from them, which with better hindsight today, i realised might not really be the best for the client as they might got someone who had a strong persuasive skill that eventually swung their decision to buy something else that would be entirely different from my recommendation.
I call this a Tied Financial Advisor (TFA). In case you have not noticed, the product provider that each of us has a contract to as an agent, these product providers are the principal to the agent, not the client. In an Agent-Principal relationship, ideally, the agent should actually put the best interest of their principal on top of the priority list. If we come to this, it means i have not been a good agent, as i put the benefits and best interest of my clients above the principal.
So, i was like a double agent back then.
Well, things are different now. I have completed the certification requirement by Malaysian regulators and Malaysia’s Financial Services Act 2013, and obtained the various licenses required to become a practicing Independent Financial Advisor (IFA). With this licenses, i feel like i am alive. The idea of becoming independent is that you are no longer handcuffed to someone, or having to rely for anything.
Now, i can give out recommendations to my client and at the same time tell them how the execution can be completed, as well as how the solution can be structured together, by having the whole universe of products and tools available in the market, be it Malaysia, or offshore to choose from, of course, the selection criteria is determined by client’s planning objective and goals.
Well, it simply means i have to make good use of the ‘power’ i have, and continue to protect my belief and raising financial literacy of Malaysian, even it means having to stay more bullish than an ox!