When Every Client Is A Friend
Image: Liu Hanse
Liu Hanse’s job is to provide her clients with financial advice. But often, what she finds herself giving them is: hope.
The Principal Client Advisor at Income recalls a customer who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Prior to his diagnosis, the client had gotten himself insured according to Hanse’s recommendations.
“His insurance was able to cover his daily expenses, which allowed him to get the treatment he needed and not worry about his household expenses and tuition fees for his only child, who was in secondary school,” she says.
“Because he did not have to worry about finances, he could focus on his health. This actually enabled him to prolong his life for another five years. He was able to focus on making the most of his time in the last five years of his life.”
While the client eventually passed away, the insurance payouts he received continued to support his wife and child.
“They often thank me for all I have done as client advisor, which essentially allowed their husband and father to leave in peace,” concludes Hanse.
“It is such incidents that make me feel that the amount of effort I put in for every customer is worthwhile, as my little actions are able to make such a huge impact on their lives.”
More than just clients
Image: Liu Hanse
Speaking to Hanse, one gets the feeling that she is one of the lucky ones who have managed to find a career that satisfies them both professionally and personally.
She admits, “I have always thought that this job was very suited to me, as it is intuitive and instinctive for me to want to help people in need. Helping them with their financial planning is one outlet for this natural tendency.”
She describes herself as a people person who enjoys the process of building personal bonds, and makes it a point to treat her clients like friends.
“Even in the wee hours, I often accept calls and answer my clients’ questions. Sometimes, it is not even about insurance policies or financial issues. I might find myself talking to them about the most random things, such as problems faced by homemakers,” she says.
Sometimes, she even shares meals with clients, her favourite spot being the food court next door to the NTUC Income branch office in Ang Mo Kio.
Clearly, she has a special something which makes it easy for her to connect with clients and build trust.
But she insists that there is no secret formula to building a loyal client base.
“Just be honest and always uphold integrity,” she says. “Most clients can see whether you are truly willing to help them or not, and sincerity and effort will no doubt pay off in the long run.”
Not always smooth sailing
Image: Liu Hanse
While Hanse has worked and thrived with Income for close to 11 years, the job has not been not without its challenges.
She admits to worrying about her clients being underinsured and becoming victims of unexpected circumstances against which they are not adequately protected.
“I always try to understand my customers well enough to ensure they are adequately insured in all respects,” she says.
Another challenge is dealing with rejection from clients.
“At times, because I do not have enough information about my client’s circumstances, I might recommend a plan that they think is not the most suited to them. This will cause them to refuse my recommendations,” she says.
In other instances, rejection is completely out of her control
“Clients may incorrectly judge my recommendations and reject them because they think they have a better alternative,” she says.
But after 11 years on the job, Hanse knows that rejection is part and parcel of life.
“The key to dealing with it,” she says, “is to be open minded about such rejections, and review each and every one. Sometimes, you have to accept that mistakes have been made and try to improve. At the same time, you need to stay confident even when you are judged, and not harp on past mistakes.”
The importance of effort
Image: Liu Hanse
Hanse is more of a tortoise than a hare. Her philosophy is that Rome was not built in a day. In order to attain success in any aspect of your life, consistent action is necessary over a sustained period of time.
This is a philosophy that more aspiring client advisors should live by, as insurance, more than any other, is an industry in which consistent effort pays off in the long run.
Hanse’s advice for newbies? “Look for opportunities and be proactive in searching for clients to help. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and talk to all sorts of people.”
She also thinks that having a large personal network is a definite asset for new client advisors.
“The wider the social network one has, the higher their chances of knowing someone who would be open to receiving financial advice from a trusted friend. So having a big family or lots of friends would definitely be beneficial.”
That being said, she firmly believes that one’s network can be grown. “Friends can easily be made by simply stepping out of one’s comfort zone,” she says.
In fact, more than a large network or connections in high places, there are two things she feels are key to becoming a good client advisor: sincerity and effort.
“To do well in this job, you need to be truthful and honest, and always put the client’s interests first,” she stresses.
These are the words she has lived by, and if her client following is anything to go by, they have served her well.