Thursday, 29 May 2008

To Be OR Not To Be An Insurance Agent

In the past, I never believed that an insurer had my interest at heart. My law lecturer, who worked with a major insurance company on a full-time basis, remarked during one of the lessons that we had to be extra careful in taking up insurance cover.

But, those were the days when some insurers were known or mistaken to have made every effort to uncover any oversight or omission of relevant declaration whenever a claim was submitted by the insured.

When it was my turn to consider a second career to boost my income in the 1990s, I pondered over three options - be a remisier ? be a real estate agent ? or an insurance agent ( last in that order of preference ).

Be a remisier was my natural first preference, but I had to decline as I could not be sure that I could restrain myself when the "bull fever" pervaded the trading room. I might get my fingers burned on mistaking my luck for my intelligence. So I opted to be a real estate agent. Regrets ? YES, how I wished I had known about such a lucrative line of business earlier.

When the Asian Financial Crisis, SARS, etc struck, the industry took a tumble, and recovery was no where in sight; I had to pull out to avoid losing all that I had worked for. My official last day with ERA was 9 September 2002.

In 2005, I was getting fidgety and restless again. I started exploring for opportunities to make extra money again. The remaining option was to be an insurance agent.

Could I ? Am I deluding myself ? Perhaps, NOT ! With the public outcry over the years, the relevant authority had stepped in to ensure a higher level of governance and transparency within the industry.

Besides, the younger generations' perception of insurance was more positive. There could be ample opportunities for growth over the foreseeable future.

I signed up for the various modules, and had no difficulty in clearing the examinations. I had planned to join an insurance broker prior to passing my examinations, but decided to take up an offer by a well-established insurer as its mission statement and objectives were more in line with my inclination.

My first year's performance was on target. In fact, I could have moved on to qualify myself as a high achiever. It did not matter to me as I was more concerned with reserving some of my energy for the following year's target.

Time passed, and I soon found myself in my third year of helping my clients in making financial plans for their future. My best achievement was when I pulled in more than S$500,000 worth of premiums for a single product promotion within two weeks.

This, however, did not help when it came to management's review of all agents' year-end performance. I had hit 85 per cent of my target toward the year-end, but I was given prior warning of my possible termination in the event that my performance fell short of management's expectation.

Friends offered to help, but I decided to take up the challenge and await the outcome without doing anything about it. I detested about being pushed to a corner every year. How often could friends help me ? True to their word, the management served the termination without batting an eyelid.

I now wonder whether or not I should move on to another insurer.

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