Saturday, December 31, 2011

reflections on 2011

as this is the very last day and hours of the old year being 2011, it is perhaps an opportune moment to reflect on the last 364 days that has passed us by.

this year has turned out to be a mixed bag of blessings for me in the financial industry where i wear many hats including:

1. the one and only appointed life insurance specialist for promiseland
independent pte ltd
2. a key member in the team of the company's managing partners
3. being a trainer, coach and mentor to new advisers
4. a fa director leading a team of both new and seasoned advisers
5. a front person/spokesperson handling media comms
6. principal life insurance partner to many insurance companies
7. a sought after 'expert' to the media and
8. a financial planner

come 2012 which is just around the corner, will be my 15th year in the financial industry and also marks the same number of years with promiseland independent pte ltd.

my comments:

2011 has seen a constant number of referrals throughout the year but i mentioned that it has been a mixed year of blessings.


because this year has also been the most challenging in my entire career in my role as a financial planner.

up to 90% or more of prospects has proven to be 'not-so-simple' cases and i can broadly categorise them to be:

a. seeking rebates
b. anti-selection, meaning unwilling to commit to full disclosure of
material information
c. taking me for a ride, getting work done on my part and then, simply
disappearing into the horizon

the flip side of this is that many new wannabe promislanders has joined our family and i can see promiseland independent pte ltd continuing to grow in terms of the quantity and quality of our advisors. and we now operate out of 3 offices in the same building, keypoint at the junction of beach road and jalan sultan.

another positive is that many insurers have continued to involve me for both feedback and involvement in their focus groups in the enhancement and design of old/new products. the most significant of these is aia, where the new management has invited the creme-de-la-creme of the industy practitioners in the last couple of months and i can verify that aia is focused on delivering to consumers, champion products that are not only value-added but are competitively priced as well.

i have ceased writing or contributing articles to publishing companies and prefer to blog on a daily basis because the outreach is to a wider audience and i have been blogging since 2006.

and to each and everyone who has been instrumental in my successful transition from a full time salaried employee to where i am now and because it is not possible to name each and everyone of u, please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation.

and last but not least, please accept my very best wishes for a blessed, joyous, healthy, peaceful and prosperous happy new year. huat ah!

Friday, December 30, 2011

insurer goes to court over 'unlicensed' driver

today, there was an interesting motor insurance case which was highlighted in the straits times headlined:

"insurer goes to court over 'unlicensed' driver".

what happened?

it seems a young motorist by the name of tan yong ren who was driving his uncle's car collided with a lorry leaving one man dead and subsequently, there was a claim submitted.

what's the twist?

the insurer, direct asia investigated the claim and found that mr tan who is 21 years old allegedly held an international licence which is not valid in singapore.

direct asia has brought the case to court and claimed it was duped into including mr tan as a named driver in the motor insurance policy*. the insurer says it should not have to shoulder any compensation payouts to victims of the accident because it insured mr tan based on a misleading claim that his licence was a valid one. direct asia wants the high court to declare it is entitled to cancel the policy.

*the policy does not cover motorists aged under 25 or those with less than 2 years' experience on the road, unless they were offical named drivers.

the insurer is also seeking the high court's declaration that any compensation payouts are settled by the motor insurers bureau* where cases are dealt with when the policy is void and the bureau can then bill the driver.

*The Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) is an independent body that was set up by insurers in 1975 and is funded by all motor insurers in Singapore. Its main purpose is to compensate people injured in road accidents caused by negligent untraced or uninsured motorists. The MIB provides a safeguard for consumers who are victims in road accidents. The MIB’s registered office is at 180 Cecil Street, Bangkok Bank Building, #07-03, Singapore 069546.

my comments:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

even more reasons to worry about salt

u do not have high blood pressure, check.
u are not overweight, check.
u exercise regularly, check.

give yourself a high-5, pat yourself on the back and therefore, u need not have to worry about salt, right?

well, think again.

one of the latest major studies, based on data from more than 12,000 american adults, took all the abovementioned factors (for death from heart disease) found that while a diet high in sodium - salt is the main source- increases your risk, even more important is the ratio of sodium (harmful) to potassium (protective) in a person's diet.

the study compared people whose meals contained little sodium relative to potassium to those whose diets had a high sodium-to-potassium ratio, the latter were nearly 50% more likely to die from any cause and more than twice as likely to die from ischaemic heart disease during a follow-up period averaging 14.8 years.

dr elena kuklina of the centres for disease control and prevention, the author of the study (published in the archives of internal medicine) said:

"we controlled all the major cardiovascular risk factors and still found an association between the sodium-potassium ratio and deaths from heart disease."

the average american consumes more than 3,400mg daily while the dietary guidelines for americans recommend a maximum of 2,300mg for people over age 2 but only 1,500mg for the 70% of adults at high risk of sodium-induced illness: people older than 50, blacks and those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

the report also pointed out that "population-wide reductions in sodium could prevent more than 100,000 deaths annually".

my comments:

according to our health promotion board, the daily recommended intake of salt is one teaspoon or 2,000mg per adult.

it has been estimated that 9 out of 10 singaporeans are consuming 2 teaspoons of salt which is twice the recommended daily intake probably because they may be unaware of the hidden sodium content in foods and most likely, due to the fact that many have outside meals where there is no control over the amount of salt in the meals consumed, unlike home-cooked meals.

most of us would probably point fingers at the salt content of potato chips, french fries or even instand noodles as the culprits leaving out the so-called healthy breakfast snack of cornflakes?

but one cup of cornflakes has about 270mg of sodium which is about the same as 20 potato chips, according to the vancouver food authority.

and the other ever present salt-laden item on the dining table is your humble soya sauce which is one of my favourite sauces to go with anything like noodles to stir fried dishes.

excessive consumption of salt on a daily basis can lead to serious health ailments like high blood pressure which in turn is linked to more serious problems like stroke and coronary heart disease.

therefore, for the sake of your own health and considerations on taking up wealth protection solutions which hinges on your insurability, do watch your salt intake, always eat in moderation and have at least 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegeatables each day.

medical disclaimer:

this blog entry is for information purposes only and it is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. readers should and must always consult their healthcare provider/s to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

Monday, December 26, 2011

taiwan billionaire to donate almost all to charity

it was reported in the taiwanese media that one of taiwan's business tycoons, mr samuel yin has pledged to donate 95% of his wealth to charity after he dies.

although he has not publicly disclosed the value of his assets, mr yin's wealth is estimated to be worth an estimated Tw$95 billion ($3.2 billion).

and mr yin who is 60 years old said:

"I've mentioned this to my family, and they've all agreed with me."

the billionaire's pledge is the biggest ever of it's kind in taiwan.

my comments:

God bless mr samuel yin richly for his most magnanimous selfless giving of almost his entire wealth to charity.

in the Christmas season, the real reason for the season is God's gift of His only begotten son, Jesus Christ and how apt to know of this person's gift to his fellow homo sapiens.

i have known wealthy businessmen/businesswomen who has similarly bequeathed their wealth to charity but alas, they are too few and too little.

some of these people have taken up insurance policies to leave their legacy to the masses who have been marginalised by society and my wish for this Christmas Season is to see more of the wealthy doing the same.

after all, no one needs to be reminded tis the season of giving.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

wishing each and everyone, especially every christian, all the joys, love, peace, goodwill and blessings of the Christmas Season.

and not forgetting the very real reason for the Christmas Season is the gift of God's only begotten son, Jesus Christ and one of the scripture verses found in Luke chapter 2 verses 10 and 11 proclaims this:

"10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

my comments:

when celebrating Christmas eve mass on saturday night, pope benedict xvi lamented that Christmas has become an increasingly commercial celebration and urged the faithful to look beyond the "superficial glitter" and to discover it's true meaning.

ditto from moi and my Christmas wish is for everyone to focus on the true meaning of the season and for it to touch u in a real and personal way.

ps: my other Christmas wish goes to the LTA and Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Lui Tuck Yew and Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, President and Chief Executive Officer of SMRT Corporation Ltd and her team to resolve all mrt ridership issues and to Mr Chew Men Leong, CEO of PUB and his engineers/staff to work out a solution to the flash floods affecting many parts of our tiny red dot nation. Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

11 nabbed for drink-driving in early morning op

today, the traffic police arrested 11 drivers for drink-driving in an early morning operation in the early hours of the morning as part of a reminder to the public not to drink and drive ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

the traffic police set-up road blocks along jalan bukit merah, crawford street, macpherson road, keppel road, telok blangah road and kampung bahru road to nab errant drink drivers.

there were a total of 60 motorists who had to take the breathalyser test and of these, 11 failed the test and were arrested for drink driving. the motorists' ages range between 21 and 55 years old.

the highest breathalyser test clocked was 60 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, nearly 2 times the prescribed legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

although the number of accidents caused by drink—driving has gone down over the past two years, the number of fatalities has increased.

my comments:

in the interests of the season and everyone, i have to digress and today's blog entry does not have anything to do with insurance.

the message of if u drink, don't drive and if u drive, don't drink needs to be repeated because of the Christmas and New Year festivities.

as it is, already 11 motorists have been nabbed for drink-driving by the traffic police and the statistics on the number of fatalities resulting from the tipple cannot lie.

so, drink if u must (in moderation) but please leave the driving to sober people.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Singapore Nov inflation +5.7 pct y/y, exceeds consensus

today, the singapore department of statistics released the consumer price index data for november 2011 and it came in at 5.7% year on year, much higher than the consensus forecast of 5.3%.

i reckon the higher inflation figure could have been influenced with transportation prices being spiked by the higher certificate of entitlement premiums and petrol prices remaining high and ditto for housing costs which include higher rents and power tariffs.

with the government's policy of restricting the vehicle population, there have been a reduction in the number of certificates of entitlement available compounded by fewer cars being scrapped which led to more intense bidding in order to secure COEs and therefore, saw an escalation in the premiums paid.

my comments:

with the monetary authority of singapore forecasting gdp growth in 2012 to slow to the range of 1% to 3%(from an expected 5.1% this year), the good news is our consumer price index is expected to moderate to 2.5% to 3.5% in the new year, which is also our government's forecast.

but on the flip side of the coin, our savings and fixed deposit rates will continue to stay low and net negative real returns and in a slowing economy, every cent counts.

therefore, surplus cash should not all be left in these traditional channels to earn meagre returns, although a financial planner will always recommend at least 6 to 12 months of emergency funds stay highly liquid.

but over and above these, the question to ask is; where are u parking your excess funds?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

hospital bed crunch looms in next few years (2)

in my blog entry, hospital bed crunch looms in next few years on december 08, 2011, i missed mentioning the on-poing construction of a new private hospital which is the farrer park hospital due to be completed in early 2013. this may not be surprising because there has not been extensive and ongoing publicity on the work-in-progress since 2009.

The Farrer Park Hospital is one of the first private hospitals to be built ground-up in Singapore after 30 years. As a wholly new development, it is able to incorporate and effectively integrate the tremendous advances in hospital design and medical technology that have transformed healthcare in the past three decades.

As such, The Farrer Park Hospital is well-equipped to deliver the best medical outcomes to patients from 11 operating theatres, three day surgery units with a total of 60 attached beds, a 23-bed Intensive Care Unit with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging services, three endoscopy suites, a radiotherapy department, clinical laboratories, a full-service pharmacy and the most advanced implementation of hospital information technology.

the farrer park hospital is a part of connexion which will be one of the world's first truly integrated healthcare and hospitality complexes, comprising a premier specialist medical centre, a private tertiary hospital, and a luxury hotel with state-of-the-art wellness and conference facilities.

connexion is owned by singapore healthcare partners pte ltd and with effect from 20 November 2011, changed its corporate name to "The Farrer Park Company Pte Ltd" which will better reflect the company's dynamic and distinct corporate identity.

my comments:

when completed in 2013, the farrer park hospital is a welcome addition to the local hospital scene and will provide another 60 beds with another 23-beds in the intensive care unit with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging services and other world class facilities.

obviously, patients who demand the very best in health care can add the farrer park hospital to their list of options available. ditto for those who are already covered with a top-notch comprehensive h&s insurance plan.

therfore, consumers should be well advised when they decide on their h&s coverage, whether the plan gives them the widest options available or is restrictive, whether with dollar-capped benefits and or designed for governement restructued hospitals only.

and making the right choice today is more imperative than ever because there is no turning the clock back especially with insurability the key issue to taking up insurance and not dependent solely on whether the premiums are affordable or not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

smrt suspends driver after woman's fall

in what is a shocking but rare occurence while travelling on a bus, a woman, madam ding weibo, age 54 years old, fell and hit her head on a seat, after the smrt bus driver allegedly braked suddenly, leaving her in a coma.

this incident happened on sunday evening, after madam ding and her daughter, ms ding xiao sui, 27, had been shopping in orchard road and took bus service 167 outside the heeren shopping mall to commute back to their home at cantonment close.

after hitting her head, madam ding immediately fell unconscious and yesterday, her condition had deteriorated.

doctors told madam ding's husband, mr you bu jia, 58, that his wife's brain swelling had worsened despite an emergency operation on sunday night to remove part of her skull, to relieve pressure in her head.

mr you and his family who hails from the poeple's republic of china are singapore permanent residents and have been living in singapore for more than 10 years.

my comments:

surely, our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

i commute by bus and mrt daily (also by taxi occasionally) and as a 'young' man of 61 years, i have to be extra careful when i board and alight from the bus/train. often times, as all the seats are taken, i have to stand throughout the journey and this is where things can go wrong (especially on the bus) because most of the buses are pretty new and the braking system is powder-ful and super effective.

and things can turn dicey when the bus driver applies the brakes and this will cause passengers (like children, infant-in-arms, pregnant women, the elderly and those who are physically/medically challenged) to hang onto the poles/hand graps/seat handles with whatever strength they can muster for dear life. i remember there were times i almost lost my grip and sometimes, because the driver applies the brakes suddenly, i simply couldn't hold on and landed on fellow passengers, who thankfully prevented me from falling.

therefore, travelling on buses especially presents challenges to people like myself who fall into the group of those who are 'more fragile' than those who are in their prime of life.

for this reason alone, i have taken up a personal accident policy which is not only affordable but this plan comes with what i term as a unique benefit (not covered in all other insurance products) falling under the permanent disablement table of benefits covering even your fingers and toes.

if like me, and knowing just commuting daily is fraught with risks and uncertainty, please take my superficial (but not comprehensive) advice, don't leave home without at least a personal accident plan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

cpf members to enjoy 12% savings on HPS premiums

i bring u good tidings because cpf members on the HPS (home protection scheme) can expect to enjoy significant savings from january 01, 2012.

the cpf board said that as at december 20, 2011, approximately 362,500 members will benefit from the lower premiums from the reduction in premiums for the hps. they form 80% of members who are currently paying annual premiums for their hps while the rest will continue to enjoy the low premium rates they are currently paying.

for example, a male member aged 36 years old servicing a $150,000 housing loan from the hdb for a term of 25 years, will pay the new reduced premium of $195.30, instead of $223.05 when he joins the scheme from january 01, 2012.

members who join the hps on or after january 01, 2012 will enjoy the new rates while existing members paying annual hps premiums will pay the lower premiums when they renew or adjust their hps coverage on or after january 01, 2012.

and the last revision in premiums was implemented in 2006.

my comments:

with inflation expected to be higher than normal for 2012, there should be real savings for all cpf members on the home protection scheme with an average of 12% reduction in premiums wef january 01, 2012.

in terms of pricing, how does the hps stand against the competition (from private insurers) even with the average reduction of 12% savings in premiums?

i shall quote just 1 private insurer, ntuc-income's mortgage protection 2004 plan for the given profile of a male, aged 36 years with sum assured of $150,000 for a term of 25 years:

cpf hps: $223.05 (current)
$195.30 (from jan 01, 2012)

ntuc-income: $205.25

although ntuc-income's premium is slightly higher by $9.95, the premium payable is for 18 years only whereas the cpf board will deduct premiums payable for the hps on an annual basis.

therefore, considering the total premiums payable which is $4,882.50 (hps) versus $3,694.50 (ntuc-income), there is a difference of a higher $1,188.00 in premiums for the hps policy if it is kept in-force for the full term of 25 years.

but more can be done to further enhance the home protection scheme. for example, private insurers already have mortgage decreasing term assurance products which offer additional layers of protection through:

a. critical illness coverage and
b. waiver of premium upon diagnosis of any of the 30 specificed critical

because the hps is a plain-vanilla plan, it does not have additonal layers of protection which the consumer can take up through a private insurer's mortgage decreasing term assurance product.

with the re-pricing of hps, i expect private insurers will probably do a review of their current pricing of mortgage decreasing term assurance rates and clearly, competition can only favour the consumer.

agents fear they can't measure up

as part of the new safeguards to protect retail investors, a new test, namely the capital markets and financial advisory services examination module 9a (M9A) for insurance agents marketing life insurance products has been introduced by the monetary authority of singapore.

this test applies to those who join the industry from next year but existing agents have been given the dateline by june 2013 to pass it.

the test will be based on the knowledge and understanding of the advantages and risks in structured products, especially structured investment-linked policies (ILPs), and covers a variety of derivatives in the market, both on-the-exchange and over-the-counter.

those who are exempted from the test must have a degree or higher qualification in finance, financial engineering or computational finance, or have chartered financial analyst (CFA) qualification awarded by the CFA Institute. i reckon a minority will have the specified higher qualifications and therefore, the majority in the financial industry will have to sit for the test.

the test will be administered by the singapore college of insurance, a non-profit company incorporated in 1994 and will cost between $107 and $151.94 for first-timers, and between $85.60 and $130.54 for subsequent attempts.

on the new test, MAS have also said they will be reviewing the entry requirements of four O-level passes, given that our investor population is becoming better educated and more sophiscated.

my comments:

these days, it is becoming increasingly harder to stay in the financial industry as there are already many veterens who may not have the minimum educational qualifications but are chinese-educated as well.

on the new compulsory test, mr tommy wee, president of the insurance and financial practitioners assocation of singapore said:

"it is definitely a daunting prospect for some of the older agents who are chinese-educated and may have difficulty understanding the syllabus."

and i reckon the financial industry will continue to support our government's initiatives to enhance and or raise the level of professionalism of practitioners.

but with our economy expected to slow to a range of 1% to 3% in 2012 and the financial services sector's growth to come down to 4.2% (from a projected 9.4% this year) and the new test being compulsory for all financial advisors, i can't help but wonder how the new year will unfold for the financial industry and all financial advisers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

news release by the cpf board

the CPF board has announced that cpf members will continue to enjoy an interest rate of 4% on their Special and Medisave Accounts (SMA) from 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012. but for their Retirement Account, the 4% interest rate will apply from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012.

this is in line with the Government’s announcement made in September 2011 to maintain the 4% p.a. floor rate for interest earned on all SMA monies and Retirement Account (RA) monies until 31 December 2012.

but the savings in the SMA currently earn either 4% or the 12-month average yield of 10-year Singapore Government Securities (10YSGS) plus 1%, whichever is the higher. The interest rate on SMA savings is adjusted quarterly, based on interest rates on 10YSGS over a preceding 12-month period.

The average yield of the 10YSGS plus 1%, from 1 December 2010 to 30 November 2011, works out to be 3.19%. Accordingly, the SMA interest rate payable to CPF members from 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012 will be maintained at the current floor of 4%.

Additional Interest of 1%

An additional 1% interest will continue to be paid on the first $60,000 of a member’s combined balances, with up to $20,000 from the Ordinary Account (OA). The additional interest received on the OA will go into the member’s SA or RA to enhance his retirement savings. If the member is above 55 years old and participates in the LIFE scheme, the additional 1% interest will also be payable on his annuity premium, less annuity payouts already made. The additional interest earned on the member’s LIFE annuity monies will be paid into his RA.

another announcement is in the form of the adjustment of the medisave required amount which will be raised from the current $27,000 to $32,000 wef january 01, 2012.

Since 1 January 2004, CPF members who turn 55 and are able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum are required to set aside the MRA in their Medisave Account when they make a CPF withdrawal. If such members have less than the MRA in their Medisave Accounts, their Ordinary and/or Special Account balances in excess of the Minimum Sum will be used to top up the MRA.


my comments:

with the world markets continued to be dogged by one crisis after crisis, the interests earned in the cpf accounts can be said to be almost free of risk as they are guaranteed by our government.

against the backdrop of guaranteed cpf returns, many cpf members i know have regretted investing their cpf-oa monies and worst, some with their cpf-sa funds as well. and liquidating these investments now is not even an option because of high surrender costs.

that's why consumers should think carefully when they are approached into investing their cpf funds from chasing potentially higher returns which were never even guaranteed in the first place.

Friday, December 16, 2011

murphy's law*?

i read with a great dose of empathy, an article in today's edition of tabla (a weekly free tabloid) about a family's ordeal being struck by stroke and stuck in singapore.

mr jaswal and his wife from india arrived in singapore on november 23, 2011 to celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary.

but on november 25, 2011, mr jaswal suffered a stroke and has been in the intensive care unit of the neruosurgery ward in the singapore general hospital since.

the hospital bill has already chalked up a whopping $42,000 and the jaswal's only child, 25 year old ms svaneel arrived in singapore on november 26, 2011 carrying whatever money she could arrange. and what's worst is that mother and daughter have spent the last 21 days in the corridors of the hospital because they have no relatives or friends in our tiny red dot nation.

and thank God, mr jaswal's condition has improved and the family wants to move him back to india but the cost is highly prohibitive, at $35,000 with a doctor and nurse accompanying him.

*murphy's law states that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong and at the worst possible time.

my comments:

as a financial planner, my advice is that one of the most important items in planning for any holiday, whether near or far away is your ubiquitious travel insurance.

and because this is probably the lowest priced component of a vacation, it is something that is so invaluable and yet brings peace of mind.

it is truly unfortunate that the jaswals' travel arrangements were made through an agent who never mentioned anything about insurance.

if mr jaswal does not have any pre-existing medical condition, i believe a travel insurance policy will have coverage for many benefits including medical expenses incurred overseas and medical evacuation and repatriation.

lest u look down on the humble travel insurance policy because premiums are really affordable, i heard from an insurer that the highest claim paid for a travel policy was for emergencxy medical evacuation and repatriation from latin america (back to singapore) and the bill amounted to a staggering us$750,000.

and last but not least, my thoughts and prayers are with the jaswal family that everything will work out well for them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

widening smoking ban?

the NEA or national environment agency launched an island wide consultation exercise last month to gather feedback on widening the smoking ban.

currently, smoking is banned in the majority of indoor locations in our tiny red dot nation, which includes shopping malls, cinemas, swimming pools, basement carparks, night spots, and bus stops.

the nea is considering extending non-smoking areas to include public places like common corridors, staircase landings in hdb blocks, parks and park connectors, beaches, smoking corners in entertainment outlets, hawker centres and food establishments.

although the smoking population here is in the minority, the nea has caught an increasing number of smokers breaking the law. in the first 10 months of 2011, it issued 4,462 tickets but for the whole of 2010, the number was just 4,646.

my comments:

i confess i have been a smoker myself and therefore, the habit can be highly addictive. i particapted in a public consultation exercise some years ago with the chairperson being dr lily neo held at a community centre. and one of the most radical suggestions we heard was for the government to impose a total ban on the import of cigarettes .

but when it comes to breathing in second hand smoke, we should be aware of the risks to non-smokers and the medical evidence from this 'exposure' is real. and what is worst may be taking-in smoke from an ambient environment which can be labelled as third hand smoke*.

*from wikipedia - Third-hand smoke is contamination by tobacco smoke that lingers following the extinguishing of a cigarette.

the male toilet in my office building can be loosely identified as a smoker's haven where the latter indulges in his habit but leaves the whole place lingering with third hand smoke but i have no other choice but to do what a man's gotta do here.

and there are many other places where the risk of breathing in third hand smoke can be quite overwhelming like the public lifts in hdb blocks, bus stops, outside office buidlings and shopping malls. and the list goes on and on...

therefore, the nea must not only widen the smoking ban but step up enforecement against errant smokers.

on lung cancer, here's the stats from the singapore cancer society:

Lung cancer is the second frequent cause of cancer in men and the third most common cancer in women.* One out of every five persons who died from cancer had lung cancer. An estimated 85% of lung cancer cases in males and 75% in females are caused by cigarette smoking.

because we are exposed to both second hand and third hand smoke on a daily basis, our risks from contracting lung cancer has also gone higher.

therefore, there is no escaping the fact that everyone of us are (passive) smokers, even though we are not smokers, per se.

there is perhaps nothing much we can do against being unwilling (passive) smokers ourselves but in terms of wealth protection planning, there is a wealth of solutions available.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

singapore's economy may grow 3% in 2012 : mas survey

according to the median forecast in the monetary authority of singapore's december survey of professional forecasters, singapore's economy is expected to grow by 3% in 2012.

the most likely outcome as reflected by the mean probability forecast is for growth of between 3% to 3.9% which is much lower from the september survey range of between 5% to 5.9%.

growth in the manufacturing and financial services sector is expected to come down sharply to 3.4% (from an expected 8.5% this year) and 4.2% (from an expected 9.4% this year) in 2012 respectively.

for hotels and restaurants, growth is expected to be around 4%, down from 5.9% in 2011.

the one silver lining in the survey is headline cpi inflation is expected to be lower at 3.1% from the forecast of 5.1% for this year.

my comments:

yes, there are dark clouds hovering in the horizon as voiced by the consensus of opinions from economists and experts aplenty here and abroad.

and this is echoed in an informal poll at the website of channelnewsasia:

where an overwhelming 75% of respondents think a recession in our tiny red dot nation will happen any time between the next 3 to 12 months. only a minority of 7% believe our economy is sound and there will be no recession.

if the official government forecast for our economy is to grow from a rather tepid 1% to the upper range of 3% in 2012, it should translate to adding to the numbers unemployed from the current 2.1%

many people i know have already cut down on spending and have revised their budgets to eliminate wants and stay focused on needs. but those who are wiser should take another step which is to review and or revisit their wealth management planning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

all u need to know about estate agents

yesterday, the cea (council for estate agencies) rolled out a brochure which gives tips on all a consumer need to know about estate agents such as:

a. how to identify a registered property agent
b. how such agents should handle transaction monies
c. a listing of the responsibilities of the property agent or salesperson in
explaining to consumers all the relevant forms and documents in a binding
d. a list of what consumers need to be aware of on their part,
such as providing one's terms and requirements clearly to the agent
e. what to do when a dispute arises.

the brochure also highlights that dual representation, where a property agent represents both the buyer and the seller and collects commission from both parties is an offence.

and it is also an offence for a property agent or agency to introduce or refer a buyer to any moneylender.

property agents and agencies are also prohibited from handling money on behalf of any party in the sale or purchase of any property here.

and last but not least, the brochure also advised consumers not to respond to flyers where the property agent or salesperson has not provided a registration or licence number.

the consumer guide can be viewed (and downloaded) at the cea website:

my comments:

our parliament passed the estate agent's bill on september 01, 2010, and the new measures will be overseen by the cea (council for estate agencies).

since january 01, 2011, all property agents and property agencies besides other enhanced licensing rules, have to be registered with the cea and aspiring property agents will require a minimum of four GCE 0-Level passes and are also required to take a mandatory industry examination.

on the recent rules and regulations governing the real estate indutry, i see many parallels in the licensing of financial advisors in the financial industry.

but i view the real estate industry to be homogeneous in nature but not so with the financial industry.

what do u mean?

if we look at the distribution of new life business through the lia (, the tied channel accounts for 48%, the bancassurance channel with 35%, the fa and other channels, 13% and 4% respectively.

this should be simple enough, right?

but till today, when i mention the word, independent as in my company's name, promiseland independent and my independent standing, the person/s sitting with me is rather clueless about my company and my standing as a financial advisor.

the authorities would be well advised to similarly educate the general public on the differences between the 3 main channels of the distribution of life insurance products, be it from the tied agency, the bancassurance and fa channels.

an example is in the number of companies being holders of a financial adviser's licence at the mas website (, and we can see a total of 66 companies here which is truly mind-boggling.

and one question immediately surfaces, are all these 66 companies similar?

therefore, just like what the cea has done, the consumer should have a guide on the different entities in the financial industry.

Monday, December 12, 2011

zurich international life

today, david choo, md of promiseland independent and myself accepted the invitation to attend zurich internationl life's client appreciation evening. zurich international life, part of the zurich financial services group established it's presence locally in may 2005.

the occasion was graced by zurich financial services group ceo, mr martin senn who flew in specially for the event.

mr senn filled us in on the company's directions and goals for the new few years and also informed us that they have applied to set up a subsidiary in singapore and a full licence to give the company, access to sell and distribute a greater variety of life insurance products to a wider group of consumers.

currently, zurich international life serves mainly corporations, expatriates or high net-worth individuals because of the limited licencing as given by the monetary authority of singapore.

my comments:
zurich international life is probably well known by one of it's champion products, vista, an investment-linked plan and another is their international term assurance, a non-participating regular premium term protection product.

by next year, i am excited by the news that zurich international life hopes to roll out more insurance solutions for singaporeans and permanent residents, such as savings and retirement products.

my hope is that zurich international life will incorporate a focus group to tap into the feedback/inputs of selective industry practitioners like what many other insurers have been doing, which will translate to not only more innovation but better competitive products available to the consumers here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

how to claim against foreign motorist

on an accident involving a foreign motorist, there have been a number of queries on how to go about filing a claim.

here's the response from the general insurance association of sigapore which is available from their website at:

How to Claim against Foreign Motorist

The General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) would advise motorists to claim against their own policies, if they have a comprehensive policy, in instances of accidents with foreign motorists in either Singapore or Malaysia. This would save them the inconvenience of making a claim against motorists from another country.

However, if motorists wish to make a third-party motor claim against insurers in Malaysia, motorists are advised to seek recourse directly with the insurer concerned by submitting the following documents:

The claimant’s vehicle registration card (photocopy);
Certificate of Insurance, cover note or policy schedule (photocopy);
Identity card (photocopy);
police report;
a police sketch plan and key (if available);
result of police investigation (if available); and
proof of losses incurred

In addition, an adjuster’s report with original photographs, a repair bill and proof of payment, a rental-car bill (if the car was rented) and proof of payment and bills and receipt for other expenses incurred.

Registered post should be used when sending any original document.

If the action taken by a claimant against the motorist in Malaysia is unsuccessful after all avenues have been exhausted, the claimant can approach GIA’s Malaysian counterpart, Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM) or GIA at the following address:

Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM)
3rd Floor, Wisma Piam
150 Jalan Tun Sambanthan
50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel No: 0203-274 7399
Fax No: 0203-274 5910

General Insurance Association of Singapore
180 Cecil Street #07-02
Bangkok Bank Building
Singapore 069546
Tel No: (65) 62218788
Fax No: (65) 62272051

The PIAM and GIA will assist only after evidence is produced that all necessary actions have been taken to pursue the matter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

run run shaw retires as tvb chairman at age 104

yesterday, there was a media report that caught my eye(s). it featured mr run run shaw, the co-founder of Television Broadcasts (TVB) who will retire as chairman after more than 40 years at Hong Kong's largest television company. according to consultant media partners asia, TVB accounted for more than 80 per cent of Hong Kong's free-to-air television market by advertising sales in 2009.

mr shaw will step down officially on Dec 31, 2011 but will be appointed chairman emeritus of TVB after he retires. he will be replaced by executive deputy chairman norman leung, who will become chairman on Jan 1, 2012.

mr shaw, who set up Hong Kong's biggest free-to-air television operator in 1965, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

my comments:

for all skeptics who find it hard to believe that any person can live well beyond today's life expectancy, mr run run shaw is an excellent example who is not only tremendously successful but is now well past his centenarian years at 104 years young.

and the honour of being the oldest person in singapore is probably ms teresa hsu chih, born on jul 07, 1898, living past her 113th birthday but has since passed away very recently on december 07, 2011. perahps one factor in her longevity is the fact that she advocates and practises laughter and i quote:

"I prefer to laugh than to weep. Those people who cry to me, I always tell them it is better to laugh than to use tissue paper, as laughing is free but tissue paper still cost five cent. 'Ha ha ha' cost no cents."

what's my point?

because living to a ripe old age, surpassing today's life expectancy of 80 to 90 years presents challenges to any financial planner and specifically, retirement planning.

often times, i have looked at the retirement plan of both individuals and families (executed by other financial planners) and the following variables and or their assumptions does not sit well with me:

a. assuming too short a period of retirement, with life expectancy to be
either 70, 75 or 80 years.
b. expected rate of inflation assumed to be very low at sub 2%.
c. expected rate of returns to be too high at 2 figures. i saw one retirement
plan with an assumed rate of return to be 15%.

and last but not least, the retirement plan may be too aggressive with the retirement age assumed to be 35 years or 40 years old which brings forth the twin challenges in both the shorter time horizon (from current age till retirement) and the longer number of years in retirement (based on current life expectancy).

therefore, the bottom line is this, which is the importance of not only engaging a competent financial planner but the retirement plan should not have overly benign assumptions, for example, on the rate of inflation and adopting too aggresive a rate of return from investments.

Friday, December 9, 2011

the ten most hated jobs

yesterday, my blog entry was on the ten happiest jobs, according to the general social survey by the national organization for research at the university of chicago. but how about jobs at the other end? in other words, what are the ten most hated jobs?

believe it or not, these are the ten most hated jobs:

1. Director of Information Technology: Information technology directors hold almost as much sway over the fate of some companies as a chief executive, but they reported the highest level of dissatisfaction with their jobs. Why? “Nepotism, cronyism, disrespect for workers.”

2. Director of Sales and Marketing: A director of sales and marketing plans reported the second-highest level of job dissatisfaction, “a lack of direction from upper management and an absence of room for growth”.

3. Product Manager: Product managers complained of restricted career growth, and boring clerical work even at this level.

4. Senior Web Developer: Senior web developers reported a high degree of unhappiness in their jobs, because employers are unable to communicate coherently, and lack an understanding of the technology.

5. Technical Specialist: A technical specialist reported that for all their expertise, they were treated with a palpable disrespect. Their input was not taken seriously by senior management.

6. Electronics Technician: Electronics technicians complain of having too little control, work schedule, lack of accomplishment, no real opportunity for growth, no motivation to work hard, no say in how things are done, and mutual hostility among peers.

7. Law Clerk: Clerkships are among the most highly sought-after positions in the legal profession and the job beefs up a resume. Yet law clerks still report high levels of dissatisfaction. The hours are long and grueling, and the clerk is subject to the whims of sometimes mercurial personalities.

8. Technical Support Analyst: Technical support analysts help people with their computer issues. This typically amounts to calmly communicating technical advice to panicked individuals, often over the phone, and then going on site only to find the client simply hadn’t turned the printer on. They may be required to travel at a moment’s notice, sometimes on holidays or weekends.

9. CNC Machinist: CNC machinists operate computer numerical control machines. For the uninitiated, this is a machine that operates a lathe or a mill. Now that the CNC operator has had most of the physical hazards of manufacturing replaced by a machine, there’s not a lot to do but push buttons and maintenance. Since it’s a specialized skill, the job offers no room for advancement.

10. Marketing Manager: Marketing managers often cited a lack of direction as the primary reason for job dissatisfaction.

the ten happiest jobs

according to the general social survey by the national organization for research at the university of chicago, the ten happiest jobs were:

1. Clergy: The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all.

2. Firefighters: Eighty percent of firefighters are “very satisfied” with their jobs, which involve helping people.

3. Physical therapists: Social interaction and helping people apparently make this job one of the happiest.

4. Authors: For most authors, the pay is ridiculously low or non-existent, but the autonomy of writing down the contents of your own mind apparently leads to happiness.

5. Special education teachers: If you don’t care about money, a job as special education teacher might be a happy profession. The annual salary averages just under $50,000.

6. Teachers: Teachers in general report being happy with their jobs, despite the current issues with education funding and classroom conditions. The profession continues to attract young idealists, although fifty percent of new teachers are gone within five years.

7. Artists: Sculptors and painters report high job satisfaction, despite the great difficulty in making a living from it.

8. Psychologists: Psychologists may or may not be able to solve other people’s problems, but it seems that they have managed to solve their own.

9. Financial services sales agents: Sixty-five percent of financial services sales agents are reported to be happy with their jobs. That could be because some of them are clearing more than $90,000 dollars a year on average for a 40-hour work week in a comfortable office environment.

10. Operating engineers: Playing with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors can be fun. With more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, operating engineers report being happy.

my comments:

i can loosely agree with the findings identified as the ten happiest jobs. and sitting at the number one spot is clergy and i can relate this to new creation church where i've been attending for more than 11 years. i believe our senior pastor joseph prince can be said to be one of the happiest in his role and i'm certain many in our congregation will go along with this.

and being a financial adviser myself (one of my roles in promiseland independent), i can testify that in my 14 years in the financial industry is not because i was raking in the moola (contrary to the survey). what drives me is my passion and satisfaction in helping others to enhance their financial freedom.

because, although money is important but can it satisfy all of one's needs? therefore, if we go by abraham maslow's theory of meeting needs, the ultimate is in the acheivement of self-actualization.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

aviva and dbs launch singapore's first renminbi-denominated insurance plan

Singapore: Aviva and DBS launch Singapore's first Renminbi-denominated insurance plan

08 December, 2011

The Dragon Renminbi Plan is Singapore’s first single premium non-participating endowment plan, offering investors a yield of 2.85% per annum over a five year period.
The Plan, underwritten by Aviva, will be available exclusively to DBS customers at all DBS Treasures Centers.

Aviva and DBS Bank Ltd (“DBS”) have launched the Dragon Renminbi Plan – Singapore’s first five year Renminbi-denominated (offshore Chinese Yuan, CNH1) single premium non-participating endowment plan. The product, underwritten by Aviva, will allow investors to take advantage of opportunities on offer in the rapidly developing Chinese market. The Dragon Renminbi Plan is available to investors at all DBS Treasures Centres, with a minimum single premium of RMB250,000.

According to Jeremy Soo, managing director and head, Consumer Banking Group (Singapore), DBS Bank: “We’ve seen a strong demand for Renminbi products, since introducing our suite of Renminbi offerings in February this year. We’re confident the demand for Renminbi-denominated products will continue as investors seek to diversify their portfolio and capitalise on the relative strength of the Asian economy. The launch of the Dragon Renminbi Plan provides our customers with another product that leverages on the rise of Asia and China’s growth, allowing them to enjoy potential currency gains.”

The suite of Renminbi products that DBS launched earlier this year includes current and fixed-deposit accounts, currency-linked investments, as well as CNH-denominated bonds, unit trusts and structured notes. The Dragon Renminbi Plan is their first Renminbi insurance product with a five year term.

Although volatilities are expected in the short term, investors will likely see a gradual appreciation of the RMB against the USD over the next five years, making the Dragon Renminbi Plan’s five year tenure an attractive one.

Simon Newman, CEO, Aviva Singapore, says that the current economic landscape has made it important for insurers to seek opportunities within the region to meet the growing financial appetite of customers.

“We felt that the time was right for us to offer a Renminbi product to our customers, backed by a rewarding yield. The Dragon Renminbi Plan is the first product of its kind and unlike anything seen in this market before. As the only Renminbi endowment product in the market right now, the plan provides investors with a mid-term financial planning solution into a currency that is expected to gradually appreciate in the next five years. Moreover, with the fixed return of 2.85%, it allows investors to gain access to China without taking on excessive market risk,” explained Mr Newman.

“The development of such a product would of course not have been possible without the strong partnership between Aviva and DBS that has been built over a number of years,” Mr Newman continued.

Aviva and DBS have been in a bancassurance partnership since 2001. This partnership has been a significant contributor to Aviva growing its business extensively in Singapore. The third-quarter results this year showed that Aviva’s life insurance sales grew by 65%. Bancassurance sales tripled when comparing the nine months in 2011 against the same time in 2010.

1 RMB is traded both onshore (in Mainland China) and offshore (primarily Hong Kong). These are traded at different rates and there are regulations that keep the currency markets apart. The differing demand and supply conditions also lead to separate market clearing exchange rates. “CNH” is used in statements and advices to denote the RMB that is available outside of Mainland China, based on offshore board rates for RMB.

my comments:

About the Dragon Renminbi Plan

Maturity Value of 115.09%, or equivalent to RMB 1,150,900 (for a single premium investment of RMB 1,000,000).
The Maturity Value amounts to an effective yield of 2.85% per annum, compounded yearly over a five-year period on the single premium, plus the return of the single premium.
Peace of mind with death benefit cover.
Guaranteed issuance basis (ie 100% acceptance by Aviva) with no health questions asked.
Upon policy maturity, policyholders have the option to choose to receive the payment in the contract currency or any other currency made available by us such as SGD or USD.

i understand this product is exclusive to the tie-up between aviva and her bancassurance partner, dbs and presents another option to investors seeking to invest into renminbi (RMB) related products and services.

some of my company's advisors have asked me whether we can market this product and i have responded by emailing to mr steven baxter, head of partners distribution, aviva for his clarifications.

announcement from tokio marine life insurance

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

Dear Partners,

with effect from 15 December 2011 (inclusive), TM Wealth Enhancement (Cash) will no longer be available for investment under CPFIS-SA.

The product will continue to be available for investment under CASH, SRS and CPFIS-OA.

All proposals using CPFIS-SA funds must reach our office by 15 December (Thurs).

Please disseminate this information to all your advisers.

Thank you.

Warmest Regards

Ms Joyce Soh
Assistant Manager
Partnership Distribution Department
*Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore Ltd. *
(Company Reg. No. 194800055D)
Tel: (65) 6592-6229
Fax: (65) 6223-9120


hospital bed crunch looms in next few years

ms salma khalik, the health correspondent of the straits times warns of "hospital bed crunch looms in next few years".

the recent news that our government has pushed the opening of sengkang general hospital, 2 years ahead of schedule in 2018 may be testament to the fact that our nation faces a shortage of hospital beds, even though augmented by the opening of the new ng teng fong hospital with an extra 700 beds, scheduled to take in patients from the year 2014.

current occupancy rates at public hospitals (with the exception of alexandra hospital) are hovering at or above 85% while the latest figures showed changi general hospital crossing the 95% mark on some days last maonth.

in contrast, the biggest private hospital chain, parkway pantai group comprising of mounth elizabeth, gleneagles and parkway east have average occupancy rates of 65% to 70%, although there should be an extra 333 beds with the opening of another hospital, the novena in mid 2012.

according to ms khalik, singapore's public health sector is chronically short of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. but with more private hospitals coming up, the public sector can expect to see many of its highly skilled doctors leaving for greener pastures. last year, 310 doctors including 103 specialists left the public sector and in the first half of 2011, another 146 doctors, amongst them 35 specialists left the public sector.

and ms khalik notes that there is already a disproportionate number of specialists in the private sector. as a comparison, as at the end of 2010, the private sector with 1,873 acute hospital beds had 1,314 specialists while the public sector with 6,231 beds had only 2,030 specialists.

ms khalik draws this conclusion that there are not enough beds in the public sector to cope with the high demand, and even so, there may not be enough doctors and nurses to give patients the quality care they need.

my comments:

in my own experience, getting admitted into a private hospital comes with a problem in terms of the choice of being alloted a single-bedded room because they are usually fully taken up and i'm placed in the queue when one becomes available which may never happen and in which case, i have to be contended to stay in a 2-bedded room with a fellow patient.

on the other hand, getting a heavily subsided bed in a government restructured hospital (especially a bed in a 'C' Class Ward) may incur a long waiting time. there was even a media report that a patient had to be wheeled to the corridor and waited for up to 48 hours for a hospital bed. and i recall my own late beloved mother had to be placed in an observation ward awaiting the availability of a bed in a 'C' Class Ward for nearly 6 hours some years ago.

what's my point?

if one of the problems lie in the looming hospital bed crunch in the next few years, are there any options open to u, should the day come (touch wood) for the need to be admitted to a hospital.

the answer is yes, in terms of the solution in the availability of h&s products, because the choices can be mind-boggling and it definitely pays to know what are u looking for, should u wish to avoid the looming hospital bed crunch.

for example, the basic medishield plan is designed for limited options, and meant only for lower class wards in government restructured hospitals. the other drawback is the plan does not provide for lifetime coverage. and do take note the applicable deductible and co-insurance will not be covered.

moving up the h&s chain, we have the integrated shield providers like aia, aviva, great eastern life, ntuc-income and prudential where many benefits come 'as-charged' and not dollar-capped like older shield products. and all of these integrated shield plans come with different options, whether the life assured can exercise being admitted to all hospitals (whether private or government restructures hospitals) or just government restructured hospitals and the lowest plan usually restricted to lower class wards in government restructured hospitals only.

and because the shield providers also allow the purchase of the rider to cover the deductible and co-insurance, this may translate to a first dollar reimbursement arrangement between insured and insurer (with the exception of ntuc-income assist rider which does not cover 100% of the co-insurance).

shield coverage is essentially designed for local consumption with the exception of emergency overseas (outside singapore)* but is usually pegged to the reasonable and customary charges which would have incurred for similar medical treatment in a hospital in singapore, whichever is lower.

*aviva defines this as in-patient medical complaint outside singapore and if u are covered under Plan 1, aviva will pay the actual incurred charges or the reasonable and customary charges for equivalent medical treatment in any singapore private hospital, whichever is lower.

moving to comprehensive h&s plans that provide international coverage (outside singapore), we have a whole suite of products that have defined geograhical limits as well as worldwide coverage.

therefore, know what u are looking for and the limitations of each h&s product because in the final analysis, the plan that provides for the most options does not come cheap but is there when needed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Polytechnic lecturer dies after collapsing at school

it is truly sad to read in today's edition of the new paper that another young life has gone too soon and in this case, ms jacqueline ho, a singapore polytechnic lecturer in her 40s who collapsed in school along the corridor outside her office. the new paper reported that she suffered from a heart attack.

the report also said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to a call at 11:06am and, upon arrival nine minutes later, found that ms ho had no pulse and was not breathing, upon which an automated external defibrillator was used on her. they took her to the National University Hospital (NUH) while giving her cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) along the way.

ms ho died in NUH soon after.

my comments:

i believe each and every time we read about someone who is gone too soon, our hearts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones.

for those who die suddenly, perhaps the only positive aspect is that the person need not have to go through a long and arduous period of suffering and incurring big or even huge medical bills. and i remember how my late beloved younger brother who not only suffered for 9 long months (in and out of hospital) but the final medical bill came to more than $300,000 not counting the loss of dual incomes, including his beloved wife who became his 24/7 care giver from the date of diagnosis of his late stage cancer.

whilst on this subject, i have come across prospects who have taken up specifically stand-alone 30 critical illness protection products which provides for a payout of the sum assured upon diagnosis of the 30 specified critical illness but is not aware that the payout is contingent on fulfilling first, the specified survival period from the date of diagnosis of the critical illness and then, meeting other terms and conditions before the claim can be admitted and paid. this survival period can be as short as 7 days, or 14 days or even 30 days. for example, in axa life's living enhancer plan:

"benefits are paid only if the life assured survives at least 7 days from the date of diagnosis of the critical illness while the policy is in-force."

therefore, taking up a stand-alone 30 critical illness protection plan comes with an inherent risk of dying suddenly and not meeting first the specified survival period and hence, no benefit will be payable.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

1 in 5 men here cheat on partners

wow, this is the headlines carried by mypaper in the front page which highlighted the latest global sexual wellbeing survey commissioned by condom maker, durex.

the survey carried out between september and october polled men and women from 36 countries which included 506 singaporeans. other countries in the survey included australia, malaysia, china and the united states.

women in singapore have, on average, 6 sexual partners from the time they first had sexual intercourse and for men, on average having 16 sexual partners from the time they lose their virginity. around 17% of men here admitted to losing their virginity through paid sex.

and what is more worrying is that 42% of male singapore respondents said they did not use any protection against HIV, aids and other STIs when they had sex for the first time and ditto for approx 50% of women respondents here. and almost 25% of the latter who had unprotected sex said it was a risk they were willing to take.

my comments:

when i read the article, thoughts like the very real risks of contracting HIV and sexual diseases through unprotected sex went rampant in my mind but other thoughts occupied my mind as well which dwelt on financial planning and wealth protection planning.

firstly, if 1 in 5 men cheat on their partners, our island's statistics on divorce and divorce rates are already pretty alarming. for example, our divorce rate has doubled over the last decade, and as of 2003, for every 10 marriages registered in our tiny red dot nation, almost 3 ended in divorce. and looking at the government's statistics ( on the general divorce rate as at 2010, it is 7.6 and 7.3 per 1,000 married resident males and females respectively. (see chart on age specific divorce rates)

and in terms of a scenario of a future parting of the ways for the married couple (however unlikely), i wonder whether financial planners have factored this into their clientele's financial plan.

and secondly, due to the very high percentage of male and female respondents who engaged in sex for the very first time without protection may or may not have made full disclosure when entering into contracts of insurance. if this is true, then the relationship between insured and insurer may not be binding and the insurance policy incepted may not be valid.

i have posted on the principle of uberrima fides often enough and this blog entry serves as another gentle reminder here to everyone involved, be it the consumer, tied agent, bank adviser, or financial adviser.

Monday, December 5, 2011


today may mark the beginning of yet another major milestone in the annals of aia, since their existence in singapore some 80 years ago, in 1931.


besides tapping on the feedback from consumers, aia's senior management has decided to incorporate a focus group (from the fa channel) into the design of new life products as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

21 year old dies after stanchart half marathon

on my way to church today (by bus) to attend new creation church's 3rd service, i overheard a conversation between 2 fellow commuters that went like this:

a: u heard or not, someone died running today's marathon?
b: don't joke lah, where got?
a: this thing can joke, meh?

yes, i can now confirm the conversation to be true because i just caught the same news over channel news asia's website that a 21 year old chinese died after completing the stanchart half marathon.

other deaths at endurance events in singapore:

2005 - mr ho wai piew, aged 40 who suffered a heart attack during the swim leg of the new balance corporate triathlon.
2006 - colonel bernard tan, 39 who collapsed 600m from the 10km finishing line during the singapore biathlon.
2007 - national triathlete thaddeus cheong, only 17 years young collapsed after finishing 3rd in a sea games triathlon selection trial.
2007 - army officer ho si qiu, 25 collapsed after completing the half-marathon at the singapore bay run.
2009 - mr calvin lee, 42 ran into trouble in the swim leg of the lsim singapore international triathlon.

my comments:

just like many others, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the 21 year old who has met with such an untimely demise.

alas, life is always unpredictable, isn't it? the sad fact remains that no one can claim to be immortal and all of us must face death at any point of time in the future, be it sooner or later.

but since there's no way to avoid death, is it not imperative to plan ahead while we still can? so, if u have either not engaged a competent financial advisor and also not reviewed your financial plan especially for wealth protection planning, perhaps today is as good a day as any to do so.

because who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

buying travel insurance didn't offer peace of mind

today, there was a letter by ms yeow soo yong published in the straits times who lamented on her not so positive experience of buying chartis travel insurance, not once but twice.

the first time in may, chartis erred in the coverage which should have been international, rather than asia as she was travelling to maldives.

the second was for her trip to europe this month but the salesperson at the travel fair stated the period of coverage to be 14 days which should have rightfully been 15 days. and the story goes on and i quote ms yong:

Subsequently, a Chartis staff member called me and told me I had to top up the premium because I was to be covered for 15 days, not 14. Upset that I was inconvenienced by the insurer's mistake again, I refused to accede and sought an explanation for the poor service.

"As my travel date neared, I did not hear from Chartis, and I did not have my money deducted for the policy. Uneasy, I called Chartis to confirm coverage but was shocked when I was told that it had lost the policy. I had to send Chartis a copy of my policy, which it is now reviewing."

which led ms yong to ask this question:

"Did the staff member who sought an increase in premium for the mistake made by Chartis arbitrarily cancel the policy without informing me?

ms yong concluded by saying that if she did not check again with chartis, she would have travelled to europe with the assumption that she was covered by her travel insurance.

my comments:

sometimes, it really boggles my mind as to why should any consumer have to put up with the hassles of taking up travel insurance, diy or going direct when the simple solution is to engage a financial adviser who will only be too happy to effect the travel insurance policy even at a moment's notice.

what do i meant?

i remember just last week, my client and his wifey were on their way to changi international airport and he called me and the conversation went like this:

client: sorry to trouble u, patrick, i will be reaching the airport soon and i forgot to take up travel insurance. can do now or not?

myself: sure, no problem so long as u are not already boarded on the airplane.

there u go. all it takes is a short call and the travel policy is as good as done and all u need to do is to enjoy your well deserved vacation anyway in the world.

but i should still applaud ms yong for not leaving home without her travel insurance policy because this is the most affordable component of any vacation and yet, it buys the much desired peace of mind.


Friday, December 2, 2011

pet peeves?

i suppose everyone of us has our pet peeves. today, two of my pet peeves happened, one after another, just slightly more than one hour apart.

pet peeve number one is when a propect who called me when i was in my office approx a week ago requesting to meet at city square mall (coffee and tea leaf outlet) in the evening to discuss his protection needs.

i waited for more than an hour and at the same time, realised i did not have his mobile number as it was an unregistered one. it then struck me that i have become a victim of another person's idea of a joke and or prank and i became a 'willing' party simply because i was too naive.

after this, i had dinner and strolled into the ntuc-fair price supermart to purchase my favourite yeo's canned drinks. on offer was 3 cans for $1.90.

pet peeve number two happened at the check out counter, and the cashier (a lady who was probably in her late 50s) charged me $2.10 and insisted was the correct pricing. i told her it was on offer for $1.90 but she did not accept my explanation. rather than spending more time arguing, i went to the supermart's office and spoke to the manager on duty who confirmed the pricing to be $1.90.

my comments:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

tokio marine life insurance - launch of tm legacy VIP

today is the official launch date of tokio marine life insurance's latest plan, tm legacy VIP.

being part of tokio marine life insurance's focus group, i had the privilege of giving our feedback to the management when the product was rolled out before the focus group some months ago.

what is tm legacy VIP?
tm legacy VIP is a participating single premium whole life plan designed as a solution to legacy planning needs by providing a high guaranteed death benefit in the event of death and terminal illness.

my comments:

tm legacy VIP is open to juveniles as well as adults and is denominated in S$. one unique selling proposition is in the form of a guaranteed (and non-guaranteed) cash value right from the very first policy year which is not found in currently available participating whole life products with the exception of manulife's solitaire which can be categorised as a similar class product.

the projected reversionary bonus struture is $10 per $1,000 sum assured compounded at 1% (based on a 5.25% projected investment rate of return) which has been assumed for many other tokio marine life insurance's participating products for many years and is not what i consider to be overly optimistic.

and tm legacy VIP rides on the insurer's sole distinction of never cutting bonuses in the entire history of the company since their existence in 1948.

this product is as 'plain vanilla' as u like without any complexities lurking in the contract and presents another option to legacy planning and merits serious consideration especially for those who are adverse to the risks of foreign currencies.