Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1961 water pact ends

for all of the baby boomers who are still around today, half a century have already gone by (oh, how time flies) and we are seeing the expiry of the 1961 water agreement between singapore and johor.

yes, if this is indeed the end of the whole deal, then perhaps we may be pretty concerned about our water supply. because for the past 50 years, 4 waterworks in johor, managed and operated by singapore's pub and producing about 15 million gallons of water a day were handed back to johor's water authorities witnessed by our minister for the environment and water resources, dr vivian balakrishnan and the sultan of johor, ibrahim iskander.

but in the long term planning executed by our government, we still have the 1962 agreement, augmented by another 1990 agreement, that will run all the way to 2061, which by then our tiny red dot nation would be on track to achieve water self-sufficiency.

my comments:

hats off to our government for their immaculate long range 'vision' to ensure we continue to have drinking water for the entire population of singapore which has since grown to approx 5 million people currently.

and that's why when my thoughts drift to folks who really take the time and effort to do financial planning, this group clearly belongs to the minority. perhaps we should all learn from our government's example in thinking and planning 'long-term' with positive outcomes.

why long-term?

because apart from our government, hardly anyone else does it and this is even more imperative given today's smaller families* and growing life expectancy.

*Singapore's Total Fertility Rate hit a historical low of 1.16 in 2010.
For the Chinese community, it was 1.02 in 2010, down from 1.14 in 2008.
For the Malay community, it was 1.65 in 2010, a dive from 1.91 in 2008.
The Indian community too has been facing declining fertility rates: 1.13 in 2010, down from 1.19 in 2008.

that's why, even though i may be in my 14th year in the financial industry, it still remains a tall order for me to reach out to individuals and families on the importance of financial planning.

ntuc-income: launch of drivo

ntuc-income has recently launched drivo.

what is drivo?

drivo is a bold new initiative by ntuc-income to drive the motor insurance market and comes with the following benefits*:

a. free ncd protection
b. 24 hour call centre
c. choice of workshops
d. $50.00 cash rebate on renewal
e. nation wide branches
f. enhanced cover features.

being singapore's numero uno motor insurer**, ntuc-income's drivo comes with a 30 day money back guarantee on private car premiums that in the event there is a lower quote elsewhere (meaning the competition) within 30 days, ntuc-income will refund the money back in full***.

* policy terms and conditions apply.
** the business times dated august 10, 2011.
*** applicable to private car policy under premium or classic plan, inclusive of plus
cover. claims on money back guarantee must be made within 30 days from commence-
ment date of the period of insurance provided no claims made on or against your
policy during this period. other terms and conditions apply.

important notes:

this blog is for information only and is not a contract of insurance. the precise terms, conditions and exclusions of this plan are specified in the policy contract.

my comments:

trust suee chieh, the head honcho of ntuc-income to drive (sorry for the apparent pun) up the competition in the motor insurance market.

if drivo is true as claimed, and the quote is lower than the competition, the motorist wins and if it is not true, meaning the quote is lower elsewhere, the motorist wins again. in short, this bold new initiative is a win-win for all consumers. which brings to my mind a mission statement of suee chieh and i quote:

"my job is never to maximise profits for ntuc-income."

well said and exemplified.

and makes me (and obviously the competition) wonder what will suee chieh think of next.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

adopting a new business model

i honestly can't remember how many so-called prospects and sometimes, referrals that i have served in the past 13 years or more (i'm now in my 14th year in the financial industry) and expanded many hundreds of hours with them, including saturdays and public holidays and the net result has been totally negative or if u like, a lose-lose situation for both myself and my company, promiseland independent.

take today, being the end of the holy month of fasting, hari raya puasa and a prospect insisted on meeting up and i naturally obliged.

after the usual pleasantries, our meeting came up to nothing more than asking me for quotations for himself, a young working professional who had no regard to a full or even partial financial needs analysis.

and the most unkind cut was when he posed this question to me:

"do i get anything for buying insurance from u?"

my comments:

throughout our meeting, i can sense that my prospect is more interested and eager in receiving either a hefty rebate or gifts or both from me.

on this, i must state categorically that i will not enter into any business relationship by the inducement of rebates or gifts or whatever. if the person in front of me is focused on receiving unbiased independent advice and choices, then that is surely the right way to look me up.

therefore, it is sad that having been taken for so many rides since i first started my career, i will have no choice but to re-examine my business model.

going forward, do be rest assured that genuine prospects and referrals will continue to benefit from what i can offer them but for those who harbour any other thoughts should not even contact me. and let me repeat my request, do not attempt to waste away your time and mine as time is a very precious commodity which should be treasured and used prudently.

selamat hari raya aidilfitri

wishing all of my muslim friends and all muslims, selamat hara raya aidilfitri, maaf zahir dan batin.

Monday, August 29, 2011

life-long premium commitment?

when i received the insurers' letters notifying me of the premium due date to keep my policies in-force, i was literally shell-shocked to learn i have entered into a new age band and with it, the escalation of the premiums payable for another year of coverage.

note: i will be 61 years old (or young) this year.

i have 3 h&s policies and 1 hospital income plan covering my family (my significant other half, our only son and myself) and because i live by my own example of not only prescribing to others but taking the medicine myself as a financial adviser.

but 4 policies?

yah lor, pretty kiasu, isn't it?

my comments:

of the 4 policies, let's just take my aviva myshield/myshield plus plan 1 premiums for example:

myshield plan 1
myself: $1,224.97 ($800.00)
wife: $800.00 ($717.42)
son: $158.55 (same)

myshield plus plan 1 (option a)

myself: $465.75 ($326.40)
wife: $326.40 ($237.05)
son: $52.00 (same)

note: figure in brackets based on previous year's premiums

total premiums: $3,028.00 ($2,291.42)/and if aviva myshield plus plan 1 option b is included, premiums = $3,767.30

as can be seen, there is an absolute increase of $736.58 or >32% in premiums payable this time around and it will only get worse in the higher age bands.

what's my point?

let's face it, can anyone 'afford' to be uninsured or stay uninsured with regard to hedging present and future healthcare costs?

and we must also bear in mind that the payment of premiums of a h&s plan remains a life long commitment insofar as to be covered continually.

therefore, in wealth protection planning, do bear in mind the tenet of ultra long-term payment of premiums vis-a-vis the future affordability of paying premiums, especially in one's golden years.

and last but not least, the pricing of premiums in any h&s plan remains reviewable and non-guaranteed and i will not be caught by surprise if current premiums do not stay the same for very long.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

presidential election 2011

today is another historic day for our tiny red dot nation and all singaporeans because we get to vote for our next president. and coincidentally, the next president will definitely be a 'tan' from the 4 hopefuls who are (not in order of merit), dr tan cheng bock, mr tan jee say, dr tony tan keng yam and last but not least, mr tan kin lian.

without prejudice, may the best 'tan' win to be sworn in as the 7th president of the republic of singapore.

my comments:

during the hustings, i have noticed a recurring point raised by all the 4 presidential candidates stressing that they are 'independent'.

as a financial adviser, i can fully understand the importance of being independent as articulated by all of the presidential candidates. and with the passing of the financial advisers act in the early 2000s, i bacame known as an independent financial adviser but with the implementation of the representative notification framework effective november 26, 2010, everyone, be they insurance advisers, bank advisers or independent financial advisers are now collectively and individually known as financial advisers.

although my business card does not reflect my 'independent' status anymore, essentially nothing has changed and i still stand on my 'independent' practise and unbiased advice.

and this is something which remains unchanged, now and long into the future.

Friday, August 26, 2011

japanese spend the most time on blogs

in a report by digital analysts comScore, internet users in japan spent more time reading blogs than internet users in any other country in the world.

why is this so?

President of comScore Japan Daizo Nishitani stated, "Blogs play a central role in Japan's Internet culture[...] Blogging has historically been a popular Internet activity, as the opportunity to interact anonymously appealed to many online users."

The top ten global markets for blog category usage in June 2011 according to comScore were:

01. Japan (average minutes per visitor = 62.6)
02. South Korea (average minutes per visitor = 49.6)
03. Poland (average minutes per visitor = 47.7)
04. Indonesia (average minutes per visitor = 33.1)
05. Brazil (average minutes per visitor =32.5)
06. Vietnam (average minutes per visitor = 30.3)
07. Sweden (average minutes per visitor = 29.2)
08. Malaysia (average minutes per visitor = 26.6)
09. Portugal (average minutes per visitor = 24.8)
10. Taiwan (average minutes per visitor = 24.1)

my comments:

going by my own daily observations when commuting on public transport, most commuters are either engrossed in texting on their mobile phones while many others others are seemingly engrossed on the internet with a growing number using tablets, other than netbooks. that's why i'm somewhat surprised that singapore is not even placed amongst the top 10 countries in the world in terms of spending the most time on blogs.

while i am one blogger in the midst of the many thousands in singapore, it takes a great deal of passion and more importantly, discipline to continue to blog continually.

and though i suspect most of my readers are from the financial industry, whether insurance agents, bankers and bank advisers and even fellow financial advisers, i will still continue to blog even if there is a minority of consumers who benefit from my blog postings.

and that is a promise i intend to honour for as long as i can get up from bed each and every day, by the grace of God.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


great eastern life: launch of prestige global medicare

great eastern life has recently launched in july 2011; prestige global medicare.

what is prestige global medicare?

prestige global medicare is an international healthcare plan that provides:

a. seamless worldwide healthcare insurance coverage
b. access to elite healthcare facilities and doctors worldwide
c. up to USD 2 million coverage* with no lifetime limit.
*maximum limit per person per period of insurance
d. emergency medical help
e. 24 hour international healthcare support by vanbreda international**

**from wikipedia:

Vanbreda International is a diversified cross-border health care insurance provider, headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

caveat emptor!

it is not unusual for me to receive hundreds of emails in my yahoo mailbox everyday and some of these may be from readers of my blog with their queries.

but i can safely say the vast majority of these emails (>90%) are purely unsolicited belonging to the spam category but within these, there are the more insidious kind with incredulous claims like being the winner of a $100 million lottery, sharing in the wealth of a dignitary/monarch of a faraway country who has passed away with no beneficiaries, how to get super rich in one day, grow your ahem, ahem by a few inches, and what not, etc.

lately, there have been emails of another kind like numerous facebook friend requests and messages purportedly from facebook prompting u to retrieve a lost message from a facebook friend. being the gullible person that i am (yes, seriously), i tried to open the emails and my gatekeeper (internet security suite) flashes me a warning that the message is embedded with all kinds of malware.

my comments:
my advice to all readers is simple, and my email always comes with this disclaimer which says:

The contents of any e-mail may contain viruses that may damage your computer system. Although this e-mail and attachments have been checked for the presence of computer viruses, we cannot be held responsible for any viruses or other material transmitted with or as part of this e-mail. In accordance with good computing practice, you should carry out your own virus check before opening any e-mail messages.

that's right, do make sure your computing is always updated with the latest internet security protection.

but more importantly, there is a very simple solution which is just press the delete button and u will have saved yourself any heartaches and money.

but relating this to the world of insurance, your finances and financial advisors, my best advice is caveat emptor or latin for let the buyer beware. and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is just that, too good to be true!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

hsa warns against taking 3 health products


The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) alerts members of the public against taking three health products sold under the disguise of traditional herbal medicines, which have been tested to contain potent western medicinal ingredients. These illegal adulterated health products are labelled as:




2 The three adulterated health products were purchased by consumers from overseas or obtained through friends and relatives. The serious adverse effects experienced by the consumers were detected by astute doctors, who promptly reported the cases to HSA’s Vigilance Branch for investigation. These products were tested at HSA’s Pharmaceutical Laboratory, which revealed the presence of potent western medicinal ingredients. HSA has alerted the drug regulatory authorities of the countries in which these products were purchased.

3 Members of the public, who have the above-mentioned products in their possession, should stop taking them as these products can cause life-threatening adverse effects.

About the Products and Adverse Reactions


4 Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng [天麻杜仲七叶参] was tested to contain two adulterants – dexamethasone and chlorpheniramine. It is packaged in a bottle of 48 black round pills. The product label claims to treat pain and numbness. Refer to the Annex for a photograph of the product and details of the adulterants.

5 Two elderly patients in their 60s were reported to have taken the product to relieve physical pain and discomfort. One of them suffered from Cushing’s syndrome due to the prolonged intake of dexamethasone (a corticosteroid found in the product) after taking it for about one month. The symptoms include puffy face, hump back and high blood pressure. In addition, she experienced hallucination and memory loss. The patient has sought medical treatment and is recovering from the adverse effects. According to the patient’s family, her other relatives were also consuming this product but have since stopped.


6 Vall-Boon Tongkat Ali [冬革阿里] is presented in a bottle of 35 brown capsules and claims to relieve fatigue and tiredness. It was tested to contain four adulterants of western medicines - dexamethasone, chlorpheniramine, ketoconazole and pheniramine. Refer to the Annex for a photograph of the product and details of the adulterants.

7 A male patient in his 20s was reported to have taken Vall-Boon Tongkat Ali as an energy booster. His doctor noted signs and symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, such as thinning of the skin and appearance of red stretch marks (striae) all over his body. The patient also experienced dependency on the product when he tried to stop consuming it and developed persistent headaches and insomnia. He is currently under medical treatment for the adverse effects.

iii) PAO NI KANG [保胰康]

8 Pao Ni Kang [保胰康] is packaged in a bottle containing 80 yellow capsules. The product claims to invigorate vital energy and was tested to contain repaglinide. Repaglinide is a potent anti-diabetic western medicine, which should be taken under medical supervision. Refer to the Annex for a photograph of the product and details of the adulterants.

9 A male patient in his 30s developed symptoms of low blood glucose after he self-medicated with Pao Ni Kang for his diabetes. He was hospitalised when he suffered from confusion, giddiness and slurred speech. Life-threatening conditions such as brain damage and coma could result from dangerously low blood glucose levels. The patient has since recovered from the serious adverse effects.

Public Advisory

10 Members of the public who have purchased these products are advised not to consume them and those who have taken them should stop consuming these products and seek medical attention, especially if they experience any of the adverse effects.

11 Ms Chan Cheng Leng1, Assistant Group Director of the Health Products Regulation Group in HSA says, “The harmful effects of adulterated health products are evident from the many reports of adverse reactions that HSA received. Although these products provide temporary relief from medical conditions such as aches and pains, they can also cause serious and life-threatening adverse effects which may be permanent and irreversible. The health risks of taking these products are not worth it”.

12 Consumers are reminded to be wary of traditional or herbal medicines that provide quick and miraculous relief for chronic medical conditions, especially if these products are bought from unreliable or unknown sources, including that from the Internet.

13 Medical practitioners are encouraged to report any serious adverse events experienced by their patients to HSA’s Vigilance Branch for investigation, if they suspect that the patients have been consuming any adulterated health products.

14 HSA strongly encourages the public to report sales of any suspicious and illegal health products to the Enforcement Branch of HSA at Tel: 6866 3485 or Email:

my comments:

when it comes to taking health supplements, i belong to the 'kiasee' category. i believe in this ultra-safe approach because when it comes to my health and well being, there is no turning the clock back should anything adverse happens.

other than health issues, and from the perspective of insurance, does the consumption of health supplements resulting in a negative consequence to one's health impact or even void the benefit/s as provided for in the insurance coverage?

therefore, i will avoid consuming any health supplements other than those prescribed by my doctors/specialists.

Monday, August 22, 2011

singapore banks safest in asia

amidst the current market turmoil which has decimated the wealth of many investors, isn't it really reassuring to know that singapore banks have been voted asia's safest in an annual league table compiled by new york-based global finance magazine.

in terms of local banks, occupying the top spot is dbs bank, ranked 19th in the top 50 listing, followed by ocbc bank taking the 25th spot and uob bank, the next place at 26th.

in a seperate ranking, dbs, ocbc bank and uob bank took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively in global finance's list of safest banks in asia.

the ranking was based on evaluations of long-term credit ratings and total assets of the 500 largest banks worldwide.

my comments:

the monetary authority of singapore has announced on june 28, 2011 that singapore incorporated banks must meet new capital requirements which will be tougher than that of basel III rules.

MAS will require Singapore-incorporated banks to meet a minimum Common Equity Tier 1 (“CET1”) capital adequacy ratio (“CAR”) of 6.5%, Tier 1 CAR of 8% and Total CAR of 10% from 1 January 2015. These standards are higher than the Basel III minimum requirements of 4.5%, 6% and 8% for CET1 CAR, Tier 1 CAR and Total CAR, respectively.

In addition, MAS will require Singapore-incorporated banks to meet the Basel III minimum capital adequacy requirements from 1 January 2013, two years ahead of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s 2015 timeline. This means that from 1 January 2013, Singapore-incorporated banks will meet a minimum CET1 CAR of 4.5% and Tier 1 CAR of 6%. MAS’ existing requirement for Total CAR will remain unchanged at 10%.

In line with Basel III requirements, MAS will introduce a capital conservation buffer of 2.5% above the minimum capital adequacy requirement. This will be met fully with CET1 capital and phased in on 1 January each year, from 2016 to 2019. Including the capital conservation buffer, Singapore-incorporated banks will be required to meet a CET1 CAR of 9%, which is higher than the Basel III requirement of 7%.


1 Basel III sets out the global standards on bank capital adequacy established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

2 The requirements will apply to every bank incorporated in Singapore with a Full Bank licence, and its locally-incorporated bank subsidiaries. The requirements will apply at both bank-group and bank-solo levels.


my comments:

although the new requirements are to be phased in from jan 01, 2013 to jan 01, 2019, our local banks are confident of meeting them. for example, dbs bank had a total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 17.2%, tier 1 ratio of 14.2% and core tier 1 ratio of 11.5% as at end march 2011.

and with the di-ppf bill passed and effective may 01, 2011, i have full faith in our financial institutions and insurers and should go a long way to assure consumers' trust in them.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

vivocare - query from reader

after the launch of ntuc-income's vivocare, i received an email query from one of my regular blog readers:

hi pat,

what are your thoughts on vivocare?


ms lim

my comments:

Friday, August 19, 2011

ntuc-income: launch of vivocare

ntuc-income launched their new whole of life product, vivocare to their agency 2 days ago and today, it was formally launched to the fa channel at hotel novotel, clarke quay.

what is vivocare?

this is a hybrid whole of life plan with choice of limited premium payment terms of 20 years, 25 years or till age 64 or age 84.

VivoCare - Product Summary

Comprehensive whole life coverage plus essential coverage against early stages of Dread Diseases.

VivoCare also covers an extensive range of 74 medical conditions, ensuring you of comprehensive coverage for Early, Intermediate and Advanced stages of Dread Diseases1.


Covers an extensive range of 74 medical conditions for Early, Intermediate and Advanced stages of Dread Diseases1
Comprehensive coverage against Total and Permanent Disability (TPD)
First insurer with 3 times coverage for death and terminal illnesses before age 65 (last birthday)7
Extra coverage4 for Angioplasty, Diabetic Complications, Severe Osteoporosis and Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

Early Stage Dread Disease Coverage

VivoCare provides the benefit of timely financial support, allowing you to seek prompt treatment from the onset of Early Stage Dread Diseases, letting you focus on your recovery. VivoCare allows for multiple claims to be made during the policy term.
How VivoCare works for you

Mr Chen bought a VivoCare policy at age 35 for sum assured of $200,000. At age 45, he was diagnosed with Mild Coronary Artery Disease under the Early Stage Dread Disease.
Stage Dread Disease Benefit Payable Payout Amount2
Early Stage Dread Disease Mild Coronary Artery Disease 50% of sum assured or $75,000 (whichever is lower) with pro-rated accumulated bonuses $85,837

The policy has a remaining sum assured of $125,000 after the Early Stage Dread Disease claim.

At age 55, Mr Chen’s arteries narrowed again and were developed into an Intermediate Stage Dread Disease.
Stages Dread Disease Benefit Payable Payout Amount3
Intermediate Stage Dread Disease Moderate Coronary Artery Disease (i) 100% of remaining sum assured or $150,000 (whichever is lower) with pro-rated accumulated bonuses
(ii) $75,000 if the early medical condition under the same Dread Disease had previously been claimed with pro-rated accumulated bonuses $107,001

The policy has a remaining sum assured of $50,000 after the Intermediate Stage Dread Disease claim.

The figures in the illustration are non-guaranteed and are projected based on the assumption that the Life Participating Fund earns an average return of 5.25% per annum in the future. Returns are projected based on estimated bonus rates that are non-guaranteed. The actual benefit payable may vary according to the future performance of the Life Participating Fund.

Extra coverage against 4 common medical conditions

VivoCare provides you with additional coverage against four common medical conditions4

Diabetic Complications
Severe Osteoporosis
Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis
Angioplasty and other invasive treatment procedures for Coronary Artery conditions

If any of the above events occur before age 85 (last birthday), 20% of the remaining sum assured will be payable subject to a cap of $30,000 per condition per insured5.

Comprehensive coverage

VivoCare provides you with comprehensive coverage against Total and Permanent Disability (TPD). In the event of Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) before age 65 (last birthday), you will receive 100% of your remaining sum assured plus accumulated bonus6.

Three times coverage

VivoCare is designed to provide you with three times your remaining sum assured against death and terminal illness if it occurs before age 65 (last birthday)7. This gives you and your loved ones the added peace of mind.


1 A waiting period of 90 days will apply from the date of policy issue, inclusion/increase of any benefit or policy reinstatement.

2 Early Stage Dread Disease Benefit is equivalent to
(i) 50% of the Remaining Sum Assured, subject to a maximum of $75,000 for each Early Stage Dread Disease per Insured and
(ii) 50% of the accumulated bonuses, or a pro-rated amount if the maximum sum assured of $75,000 is paid out.
Ntuc-Income will not pay the Early Stage Dread Disease Benefit (a) for the same Dread Disease more than once; and (b) if we had already paid the Intermediate Stage Dread Disease Benefit for the same Dread Disease.

3 Intermediate Stage Dread Disease Benefit is equivalent to
(i) Remaining Sum Assured subject to a maximum of $150,000 for each Intermediate Stage Dread Disease per Insured and
(ii) accumulated bonuses or a pro-rated amount if the maximum sum assured of $150,000 is paid out.
Ntuc-Income will not pay the Intermediate Stage Dread Disease Benefit for the same Dread Disease more than once. If Ntuc-Income had already paid for Early Stage of the same Dread Disease, the amount payable for the Intermediate Stage Dread Disease Benefit will be capped at $75,000 plus pro-rated accumulated bonuses.
Each claim paid for Early and Intermediate Stage Dread Disease will reduce the sum assured. Subsequent premiums, claims and cash values will be based on the reduced sum assured called the Remaining Sum Assured. The Policy will cease when 100% of the original sum assured has been paid out on a cumulative basis.

4 A survival period of 30 days from the date of occurrence of insured event applies.

5 Ntuc-Income will pay this benefit at most twice, provided that the Policy has not ceased, and so long as the second claim is not for the same medical condition as the first claim.

6 Bonus rates are not guaranteed and the actual benefits payable may vary according to the future experience of the Life Participating Fund.

7 The maximum aggregate benefit payable for terminal illness per Insured is $3 million, inclusive of all policies issued by us and other insurers. If the Insured dies or is certified to be terminally ill from age 65 onwards, remaining sum assured with bonuses will be paid.

This blog is for general information only and is not a contract of insurance. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of this plan are specified in the Policy Contract. You should seek advice from a qualified adviser if in doubt. If you choose not to, you will have to take sole responsibility to ensure that this product is appropriate to your financial needs and insurance objectives. Buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment. An early termination of the policy usually involves high costs and the surrender value payable may be less than the total premiums paid.

my comments:

after attending the launch, i tried to download the latest software version winquote august 2011 release (V4.08.00) and like all other fa reps doing the same thing at the same time, the speed of the download was extremely slow and after >4 hours, i had to give up and apologise to a prospect who had earlier arranged a meeting with me to be on the same day of the launch of vivocare.

on hindsight, i should not have agreed to the meeting and should have anticipated that i may not be able to download the latest winquote software incorporating the new product, vivocare and avoid incurring the wrath of my prospect. i believe i may have lost this prospect already. sigh.....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

aia - an important announcement

today, we received this email notification from aia:

Dear Business Partners,

We are pleased to share with you the attached Press Release where we announced today that American International Assurance Company, Limited (AIA) will be transferring its Singapore life and general insurance business, which has to-date been owned and operated by its Singapore branch to AIA Singapore Private Limited (AIA Singapore), a wholly-owned, Singapore-incorporated subsidiary of AIA.

This transfer is yet another milestone in our 80 years of successful operations in Singapore. It reaffirms the importance of Singapore as a strategic key market in AIA Group Limited’s pan-Asian business and our long-term commitment to the development of the nation’s financial services industry. It also reflects our deep engagement with the local community and our policyholders. AIA Singapore will continue to provide top-quality products and services to fulfil the protection and savings needs of Singaporean families across generations

We will be sending letters to all policyholders to inform them on the transfer from September 2011. A set of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ will also be posted on AIA.COM.SG for customers’ reference. We have attached a copy of the letter and the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ for your reference too.

We are proud to be your partner and are committed to helping you protect and grow your business, now and in the future.

Kindly share this Press Release with your advisors.

Yours Sincerely,

Shawn Goh
Head of FA Channel

my comments:

we are pleased to be part of the aia family, being one of only a handful of fa companies contracted to distribute aia products.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

health subsidies extended to 700,000

in pm lee hsien loong's national day rally speech, he shared that the government will extend subsidies for medication and for patients to seek medical care at their local GPs and dentists which should come into effect early next year.

what are the changes to the current schemes?

a. primary care partnership scheme (subsidised consultants at private GPs
and dentists.
age criteria down from 65 to 40 years old.
income criteria - up from $800.00 to $1,500.00 per capita monthly
household income.

b. drug subsidies
higher cost standard drugs - increased from 50% subsidy to up to 75%
medication assistance fund for selected expensive drugs - raised from
up to 50% subsidy to up to 75% subsidy.
the medication assistance fund will be expanded to cover non-standard
drugs on a case-by-case basis.

c. medisave withdrawal limit for chronic outpatient treatment
to be raised from $300 to $400.

d. medifund
to be extended to include community and home-based intermediate and
long term care services.

with the government setting aside $73 million worth of subsidies, the number of people who will benefit should number more than 700,000, up from just 87,000 currently.

my comments:

with the move, the government is mindful of our rapidly ageing population which will grow to 19.6% (aged 65 years and above) in the year 2030 numbering approximately 800,000 seniors.

but thank God, there is still a basic medishield scheme which serves as a fundamental hedge against healthcare costs, even with all of it's limitations, especially with dollar-capped benefits, very low annual limit and longevity risks (there is no lifetime coverage). but consumers who is seeking more comprehensive coverage should always consider an integrated shield plan or even any other private h&s umbrella with more options, higher annual limits and of course, lifetime cover.

the cap on using medisave should be raised to $1,000

a reader posed this feedback in one of the letters published today in the forum page of the straits times:

health care cover - "the cap on medisave should be raised to $1,000"

MR CHEN ZIWEI: 'In view of the rising health-care costs here, the $800 cap on using Medisave funds to buy a hospitalisation and surgery insurance plan should be raised to $1,000. Better still, scrap the cap because there are seniors who may have enough Medisave funds but insufficient cash to pay the premiums. Raising the cap will encourage more citizens to seek health insurance plans. Those with more cash in hand can use it to buy riders, which will boost their coverage.'

my comments:

me chen may be interested to know that although the cap on medisave being used to pay for premiums of private Medisave-approved Integrated Shield plans, is subjected to a withdrawal limit of $800 per policy, per year but for policyholders aged 81 and above, the withdrawal limit has been raised to $1,150 per policy, per year, since december 01, 2008 when the enhanced medishield plan was rolled out, albeit with an increase in premiums:

< 30 30 33
31 – 40 40 54
41 - 50 80 114
51 – 60 160 225
61 – 65 225 332
66 – 70 265 372
71 – 73 335 390
74 – 75 375 462
76 – 78 420 524
79 – 80 510 615
81 – 83 600 1087
84 – 85 705 1123

Note: NB = Next Birthday/PAP = Previous Annual Premium/CAP = Current Annual Premium

as can be seen from the premium table, the higher withdrawal limit for seniors will fully fund the payment of premiums with the revised medisave withdrawal limit of $1,150.00 per policy, per year from age 81 onwards.

Monday, August 15, 2011

change is in the air for keypoint

yesterday, there was a headlines in the teletex on cna that caught my eye confirming that frasers commercial trust has been given the nod to redevelop keypoint building (where our offices are located) into a commercial/residential development.

keypoint is located at the junction of beach road and jalan sultan and is situated almost diagonally opposite the concourse.

currently, keypoint consists of a 3 storey podium, a 22 storey office tower and a 4 storey carpark with 227 parking spaces.

fcot has been given permission to rezoning the site from commercial use to mixed commercial and residential use by the urban redevelopment authority but a formal application to the latter will also need to be submitted for approval before any development can take place.

fcot is exploring all options which include the following:

a. the sale of the building
b. redeveloping it or
c. retaining the property as an office building

which may include additional regulatory approvals.

my comments:

some of my advisors are already asking the obvious question of whether we will be affected by the latest news on keypoint. but this is really a premature reaction as fcot is still considering its options.

our offices are located on the 2nd floor and we have 2 more units on the 21st floor. but to address my advisers' query and if ceteris paribus or all other things being equal, i'm pretty sure we will love to stay-put at keypoint because we have been here for the past 8 years or more at least.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

World Bank chief warns of 'more dangerous' times

in an interview with the weekend australian newspaper, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick warned of a "new and more dangerous" time in the global economy.

he added: "we are in the early moments of a new and different storm, it's not the same as 2008."

mr zoellick said eurozone's debt issues were more troubling.

my comments:

it seems like deja vu once again with shades of the last global financial crisis still fresh in the minds of the many who have realised losses in their investments.

with a 'heavy weight' like the world bank chief, mr zoellick warning of a more dangerous time in the global economy, u can choose to ignore this perhaps at your very own peril.

one thing i have noticed when the markets turn bearish, there will be a focus back on fundamentals and the masses of people usually gravitate back towards wealth protection. after all, in any crisis, there will always be the popular refrain that 'cash is king' and preservation of wealth is key.

Friday, August 12, 2011

tokio marine - withdrawal of tm nest egg (sp -g'teed 5th series)

we have just received this email notification from tokio marine life insurance, singapore:

Dear Business Partners,

We would like to thank you for your support in TM Nest Egg (SP-Guaranteed 5th Series).

Please be informed that we will be closing the subscription next Wednesday, 17 August 2011.

Attached is the Product Announcement for your reference and dissemination to all your advisers.

Hurry, talk to your clients now to avoid disappointment!

Best Regards,

Yvette Lee
Partnership Distribution Department
Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore Ltd
(Company Reg. No.194800055D)
Tel: (65) 6592 6254
Fax: (65) 6223 9120

my comments:

in the midst of the current market turmoil, and due to demand, tokio marine has just squeezed out an additional $1 million allocation for their tm nest egg (sp - guaranteed 5th series) which may not last long given the closing date of august 17, 2011 or earlier. as of yesterday, $0.4 million of the additional $1 million has been taken up.

what is tm nest egg (sp - guaranteed 5th series)?

tm nest egg (sp - guaranteed 5th series) is a fixed 3 year non-participating single premium endowment product with a fully guaranteed 1.4% return on maturity.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

insurer: sorry

the following letter appeared in the st forum on august 03, 2011 which i posted in my blog on august 04, 2011:

Insurer doesn't deliver on promises

IN MID-APRIL, I wrote to my insurer, MSIG Insurance (Singapore), to ask why a premium was debited from my account on Jan 6 when the policy - an accidental death plan - was terminated when I reached 75 years old in August last year.

I received no reply. The next month, I wrote in again, this time to the office of the chief executive officer. There was no reply either.

The absence of a reply is in marked contrast to its previous promises to be committed to a high level of service, and to serve me with a professional as well as personal touch.

All I wanted explained was whether it was legal to debit premiums from a policy that had been terminated.

Lee Boon Chui

today, mr takaaki nakamura, the managing director of msig has responded:

insurer says sorry

WE APOLOGISE to Mr Lee Boon Chui ('Insurer doesn't deliver on promises'; Forum Online, Aug 3) for his unpleasant experience with MSIG.

MSIG is committed to providing a high level of service and handling our customers' feedback in a fair and prompt manner. We have explained the delayed deduction and resolved the matter with him amicably.

Takaaki Nakamura
Managing Director
MSIG Insurance (Singapore)

my comments:

generally, in my entire time in the financial industry, i find the following words; please, thank you and sorry to be almost non-existent or perhaps, people have seemingly forgotten that these words remain part of the english vocabulary.

therefore, it is good for the top honcho himself, mr takaaki nakamura to have said so himself to one of his customers and put right the unpleasant experience of lee boon chui behind them. but more importantly, the company must have learnt from this and going forward, deliver outstanding customer experience each and every time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a 'freak' accident

an article in today's edition of the straits times caught my eye with regard to a person who slipped on a sloping ramp near his block.

mr aw kian chow was heading back to his flat in block 415, sembawang drive when he fell and fractured his spine and became paralysed from the neck down. this happened in august 2008 and now, 3 years later, this 46 year old father of 2 young children is still bedridden and cannot speak.

in addition, mr aw needs life support equipment, regular hospital care as well as caregivers to turn him on his bed every 3 hours to drain out mucus and other fluids.

as a result of this most unfortunate turn of events, mr aw's wife, in her 30s, is holding a job as a bank officer and became the family's sole breadwinner.

the aw family has since downsized their dwelling into a smaller flat which used to be their 5 room flat in sembawang to meet mr aw's ongoing, hefty medical bills.

The family has since moved out of the five-room flat in Sembawang into a smaller flat elsewhere so the family can meet mr aw's ongoing, hefty medical bills.

my comments:

whenever i read such heart wrenching real life stories, i feel saddened that a 'freak' accident, no matter how remote, can happen to any individual or family.

there have been many cases when an event such as an untimely death, being disabled or contracting any dreaded disease have uprooted individuals and families from the normal schedule of everyday living and without wealth protection planning, many challenges lie ahead.

that's why, even though i'm into my 14th year in the financial industry, i remain fully committed and passionate in my role as a financial adviser.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the pledge moment 2011

today, i'll deviate from my usual blog on everything u need to know on insurance and pen my thoughts on our national day.

during our sunday church service on auguest 07, 2011, we held our own national day celebrations with an item dedicated to singapore and our senior pastor, joseph prince led us in praying for our tiny red dot nation and our government.

on the occasion of singapore's 46th birthday, i, together with all singaporeans (placing a right-handed clenched fist over the heart) have the honour to recite the national pledge* tonight at 2010 hours.

here's moi wishing singapore and her people, many more happy years!

*national pledge:

we, the citizens of singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

standard & poor's downgrade us debt to AA+

this is the shocking headlines that must have caught many, many eyeballs when rating agency, standard and poor's downgraded us debt to AA+ yesterday which has warned that it may do so some weeks ago.

us debt is now rated AA+, (for the very first time since 1941) which is one notch down from the coveted AAA rating, the highest possible but s&p decided to maintain its negative outlook on the long-term debt, although both the short and long-term ratings have been removed from 'creditwatch'.

standard and poor's explained its decision on 3 main factors viz:

1. The incapacity of Congress to work together (reflected in part in that to some extent politicians have tended to go for the ‘low-hanging fruit’ as regards expenditure cuts, as well as the lack of new revenue measures)

2. The now lesser likelihood that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for high-earners will be allowed to expire from 2013 onwards.

3. The recent downward revisions to GDP estimates, on the past 29th of July, which underscore the historically subdued pace of the recovery in economic growth.

my comments:

the downgrade comes amid market sentiment already jittery with the ongoing concerns on the eurozone debt issues and the slowing global economy.

generally, the downgrade will definitely translate into more uncertainty in the market place and the reaction of the global markets when they open after the weekend although (as an indication), the dubai and tel aviv bourses have registered huge falls.

with greater uncertainty, one thing may be certain, meaning there will be a shift to safer haven instruments of which one is in wealth protection solutions.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

insurer doesn't deliver on promises

Aug 3, 2011
Insurer doesn't deliver on promises

IN MID-APRIL, I wrote to my insurer, MSIG Insurance (Singapore), to ask why a premium was debited from my account on Jan 6 when the policy - an accidental death plan - was terminated when I reached 75 years old in August last year.

I received no reply. The next month, I wrote in again, this time to the office of the chief executive officer. There was no reply either.

The absence of a reply is in marked contrast to its previous promises to be committed to a high level of service, and to serve me with a professional as well as personal touch.

All I wanted explained was whether it was legal to debit premiums from a policy that had been terminated.

Lee Boon Chui

my comments:

i will withold any comments and await the response from the insurer and in this case, msig, which is one of many general insurers in singapore.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 jobs that can lead to depression

today, there is an article in the asiaone website* that lists 10 jobs that can lead to depression and they are:

a. nursing home/child-care workers
b. food service staff
c. social workers
d. health care workers
e. artists, entertainers and writers
f. teachers
g. administrative support staff
h. maintenance and grounds workers
i. financial advisors and accountants
j. salespeople


my comments:

gosh, if we accept the abovementioned listing, i'm in a profession that can lead to depression and yes, this is a risk which i've to accept.

whenver the 3D's occur and i'm not talking about 3D movies/tv, but premature death, disability or dreaded diseases, and the individual or family has not gone into wealth protection planning, it saddens me a whole lot and if it goes deeper, can drive me or any other financial advisor into depression.

well, that's why i salute all the other professionals in the listing who carries similar risk of falling into depression.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

review of a family's insurance portfolio

today, i met-up with a wealthy prospect (referred) who is still almost clueless in terms of the total coverage the family has, even though they have taken up more than 40 life insurance policies over the years. and what is really surprising to me is because even though they have recently engaged a fa rep (whom i know and respect), there was no comprehensive analysis and review of their wealth protection portfolio carried out with the family.

i have a daunting task ahead because firstly, i come highly recommended to the family and secondly, this family's collection of life insurance policies is the highest in number in my entire 14 years in the financial industry.

my comments:

on my first scrutiny of the policies, there are significant gaps already uncovered and the most important one being the lack of any pure individual disability income coverage. should (touch wood) either or both parents not die prematurely, or do not suffer from total and permanent disability but is unable to work due to any accident or illness (which falls outside the specified 30 critical illness), then will all the hard earned monies which total a good five figures towards paying premiums be of any good?

that is why i have always urged and encouraged readers to engage a competent financial adviser to do a review of their wealth protection portfolio. and belive u me, what u don't know, will not go away but remain a significant risk that may have the greatest impact towards your financial health.

some agents are still using misleading titles

in an article in today's edition of the straits times, property firms have reportedly dumped thousands of property fliers because the new rules on stopping misleading advertising kicked in yesterday.

Monday, August 1, 2011

review cut-off age for CPF-Dependents' Scheme

Aug 1, 2011
Review cut-off age for CPF dependants' scheme

THE Dependants' Protection Scheme (DPS) aims to provide Central Provident Fund members and their dependants with financial help to tide them over the first few years should insured members become permanently disabled or die.

It was started many years ago, when the official retirement age was 55, and people got married and had children earlier.

Now that the retirement age has been raised to 62 and people get married and have children later, the DPS' cut-off age should be raised from 60 to at least 65 so it can remain relevant.

Lim Lee Siang (Madam)

another option for insurance advice

Aug 1, 2011
Another option for insurance advice

MS JESSIE Loy said consumers need to have more choices of insurance products ('Banks should not act like insurance agents'; last Monday).

Since 2003, with the introduction of the Financial Advisers Act, independent financial advisers have been allowed to be established here.

Independent financial advisers are companies that specialise in providing consumers with advice on a wide range of financial products and services. They are not tied to a single product provider and do not 'manufacture' their own products, to ensure a higher level of objectivity when giving advice.

Instead, they are formed with the aim of working for their clients to identify their needs and goals, and recommend and implement the most appropriate financial solutions.

Consumers today encounter more complex and sophisticated financial products that may not be easily understood. Hence, we can expect more of them to seek quality advice to help them make informed decisions.

The Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore) comprises 26 members and more than 3,000 representatives who have made a commitment to put their clients' interests first. Its market share for insurance products and solutions has grown from 4 per cent 10 years ago to almost 15 per cent today.

Augustine Lee
President, Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore)

Aug 1, 2011
Review cut-off age for CPF dependants' scheme

THE Dependants' Protection Scheme (DPS) aims to provide Central Provident Fund members and their dependants with financial help to tide them over the first few years should insured members become permanently disabled or die.

It was started many years ago, when the official retirement age was 55, and people got married and had children earlier.

Now that the retirement age has been raised to 62 and people get married and have children later, the DPS' cut-off age should be raised from 60 to at least 65 so it can remain relevant.

Lim Lee Siang (Madam)