South East Asia

2 months

Utilizing mentorship to accelerate the progress of financial advice with VP Thanga – Trascript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

clients, financial planner, business owners, business, financial advisor, pandemic, people, financial planning, financial, industry, investments, finances, advice, comprehensive financial planning, years, criteria, challenges, podcast, planning, insurance

SPEAKERS

Gwen Lazarito, VP Thanga

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Welcome to the financial planners Southeast Asia podcast, a show dedicated to driving the positive evolution of financial advice specifically within South East Asia, to join a global community of financial advisors, sharing and learning with one another to drive the positive evolution of financial advice. Head to x y advisor.com. Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the financial advisor, South East Asian podcast, when here and today we have an award winning financial advisor, a mentor for other financial planners and the executive director at blueprint planning in Malaysia. Please help me welcome Vp tangga. Hello, thanga. Thank you so much for coming into the show. Hi, Grant. Thank you for having me. Thank you. Yeah, so I’m very excited to have you on. I mentioned earlier, before we started the podcast that you were introduced to me by one of financial advisor whom I really looked up to, and he said that he’s, you’re one of the best people to talk to when it comes to giving out quality advice for a financial planner. So I just wanted to rewind a little bit and get to know more about you so that our listeners can also learn where you’re from. So I’d like to know, like, how long have you been in the industry?

 

VP Thanga 

I’m in the finance industry for the past 29 years. I started as a tight life insurance agent started as a part timer 29 years ago, then into financial planning advisory is past 14 years, since 2007. So actually, I started as a part timer meaning that was a teacher. Ah, yes. So I was teaching and then I started to because my passion is in finance, and I love figures. And so so I went into life insurance as because at that time, we do not know much about investments, advisory or even financial planning for that matter. We never heard of the word of financial planning. Yes. So when I when we look out, the nearest or very obvious thing is the life insurance industry. So I get involved, and then I actually started my as a full time in 1997. Okay, 1997, then I started to do my studies, Chartered Financial Planner, planning studies, which is a local version. So then I never looked back. That’s,

 

Gwen Lazarito 

yeah, oh, you’ve been like four in the industry for a very long time. And I’m sure that you’ve garnered a lot of knowledge. And you’ve also, like, seen how the industry has changed throughout the years. Yeah. So like, what do you think was the like the atmosphere of the financial advice industry when you first started and compare it to now to what’s happening now,

 

VP Thanga 

to be frank with you? In terms of changes? Yes, people heard about financial planning people heard about, you know, financial advisory, but then, of course, like any other industry, there’s been some misleading what he call version of it, where a type agent or even normal unit trusts marketing person also call themselves as financial advisor and financial planner. So, so when we, we, when we do actual advisory, there could be some challenges, but then people are now more aware of there is service call advisory. And and of course, with no like myself and with my partners, you know, in other industry people we really worked very hard to you know, bring this to the public Look here. This is advisory is more of an advice, not just selling products. So, but compared to 29 years ago, of course, the awareness is there, but I will I feel that it can be improved, okay, can be improved?

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, definitely. Definitely. And it’s an ever changing landscape as well because I do understand what you mean here in the Philippines as well. I’m a financial advisor here. is more likely the one who sells insurance. And then we’re still in that process of being in the next step, so there’s not a lot of financial planners, actual financial planners available yet. So there’s like a bunch of certifications as well as same as in Malaysia, I think, if I remember correctly, it’s two years, two and a half years to, to go into your studies. So and I’m really glad that you brought that up. Because I think, yes, it’s very important to distinguish different types of professions in our industry, because there are a lot, there’s the one to only sell you the insurance. And there’s also the one who really helps you out in your overall financial management right now. Yes. Talking into like, personal financial management, I’d like to know who is your ideal client now that you, you know, you’re you’re hit in the industry for such a long time. You have one,

 

VP Thanga 

okay, actually, I have I get I don’t classify them as in as per the industry or as per the network, okay, I have the range of clients whom, with startup, no business startup, or just beginning as a professional, and to up to high net worth and ultra high net worth clients, okay. But my main focus is on for those who are motivated to achieve the things that to achieve things in life, willing to make changes and sacrifices for their betterment. That is one of the criteria. The other criteria is for those who wanted to put their finances in good perspective. Okay. And then also, the other category I’m looking at is for those who wanted to preserve their wealth, I call it the financial mature clients, and to distribute them, you know, on that area. So these are some of the criteria that I’m looking at. So my ideal clients, yeah, no, that is heavy in our habit. And, you know, if your your your character and your habit is not there, it’s very challenging to go into personal financial matters.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, I definitely agree. And I am glad that you categorize this as a criteria because it is true. Because there are some people, right, like, who think like, Okay, I’m going to seek advice from a financial planner. But then when you’ve provided them with the facts, they, you they are you receive a push back from them, because they think they don’t need it, or they don’t get into the habit that you want them to cultivate. And that’s because they don’t have the, as you mentioned, the financial maturity to to change their financial situation. And that’s, that’s a really good criteria to have. I think it was the, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, right? Yes, yes. And speaking to your background, as well as being a teacher, so that makes a wealth of a difference for you as a financial planner, because it’s easier to deal with clients who are open to feedback and for open to change, right? Yep. Yep. Yeah. And so, most of these, I’m guessing most of these clients are, you know, they’re the one who has that open mindedness to become better at their finances. But I’d like to know, and I think we mentioned this a few emails ago that he has, that there’s, you’re interested in sharing ideas regarding financial planners, financial planning, around business owners. Is there a difference between a client who is like the one like who’s a regular employee with that have like a business owner?

 

VP Thanga 

Or Yeah, there are quite a number of differences actually. As an employee, your financial the capability of earning an income is limited and they generally will try to live within their means. Yes, okay. So, even though we see sometimes that as a financial planner, we see that there are potential for growth, but compared to business owners, they very few people will take that and move on. Whereas on the other side, business owners are a different breed of people, okay? They love challenges then for them challenges is is part and parcel of their life. Okay. And then when we show them that Rukia see most of the business owners, their challenge is they do not know to be my surprise after I go through in all these business owners, it is not just doing purely business I’m also categorize these professionals are having their own practice also as business owners. Okay, so what what is, I mean, the nice thing is some of them, they feel that Oh, they are they are fine with your finance, they are going well, I know very well. But actually, they are not, okay, when is put down their goals and all that they it’s not sufficient, when the other category is that they always afraid that how hard they earn, they afraid that it is it may not be enough for them. Okay, so we have these two type of category of business owner. So the, what he called this as a business owner, we can actually, if we can show them that this is what they need. And they can go and no lift their level, and even be surprised that most of the business owners are willing to do in fact, after writing their personal financial plan, their business have grown. Okay, because now they see there is a need to improve their business and increase their income.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, definitely. Because I can definitely relate to this because my I grew up in a business minded family, right. But it’s, it’s a traditional business where the one that you mentioned where the business owners or my parents in that matter, were actually very fearful. Because they didn’t have a fallback. They didn’t really think that the like, there’s always that fear lingering in the back of your mind that one day like something will happen and the business would go down. And like we will be, you know, we would be left penniless, penniless. And it’s difficult to pivot. Right. And so, yeah, and at that time, you know, financial planning was like for like, as the Filipinos would say, or I think some of the other Asian countries as well. It’s only for the rich people, like financial planning is only for rich people, right? Yes. Yes. Now it’s it’s starting to, like other people are starting to see that financial planning isn’t only for the rich, but also for for the, for the middle class people as well are for those business owners who are still starting their business. And do you cater to those as well, to those who are just starting up with their own business? And yeah,

 

VP Thanga 

yeah. I mean, for those who are starting up their own business, we call it startups, okay. But the thing is, we can do, generally we can do a comprehensive planning. So, so what we will do is we will go on a modular, where we will go into the, you know, look into their risk, you know, and then maybe slowly into investments or for the retirement or for the even business, what he called business expansion. Okay, so, so, so for startups may not be a complaint. So, what I’m trying to do is I’m cultivating the, the importance of the advice element of advice in their finance, so that they will make less mistakes. No, in order because sometimes when we see some of the financial mistakes, people have done, my clients have done, we can, like, you know, rectify it or you turn immediately, it will take a few years sometimes for us to make that you know, that mistakes, to correct the mistakes. So it is best to avoid or minimize those mistakes. When you have a financial or licensed financial advisor with you, then the chances for this client to make big financial mistakes very less. And so that’s the idea of it. In fact, I have a few clients who have started something like that. Now it’s already five to six years. Now they already built they are already into more stable business and in fact, some of them when they join the engagement They will single now they already have family and children. So now they see know that progress and they appreciate for that, you know, they always said, I mean, sometimes I asked them a you’re a startup, why did you in the first place engage me? You know, so they told me, Mr. Manga, I know about my business. But I do not know much about finance, especially my personal things, what I need what I supposed to do what I’m not supposed to do. So you are an expert, so and some of them even said, I don’t want to do my the mistake that my father did. Okay, so so these are some of the reasons why, you know, I would like to work, I call them as my CSR clients, meaning that, I mean, I, I actually build them, you know, slowly along the run, after a few years, they will be mature for a comprehensive financial planning.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, that’s, that’s true. And I really appreciate that you have that mindset as well, because there’s this thing, right? Like, especially with business owners, you can imagine the stress that they’re having, and especially when they’re still starting out. And it’s good that they have that mindset that they’re willing to seek support from an expert, because then they’ll have the headspace or like, they can put all of their Attention, attention to growing their business while someone else is taking care of their finances and making sure that that expert can point out if they’re, if they need to pivot, or if there’s something that they need to change with the way that their money is working in the background. Exactly. The point? Yes, yes, yes. Because I, I can see it, like I can still even see it now. Like there are some people who start out with their business or even though the ones that already have that business for a long time, and then they encounter an issue, like, for example, last year with a pandemic. And they Yeah, and they’ve sold their, like, they’ve mortgaged their house and all that. And that might not be the best way with regards to their finances and speaking with with with the pandemic, like, how was the atmosphere of most of your, your clients in last year, when like, the economy was going haywire,

 

VP Thanga 

even now, still, you know, it’s still slow things bid worrying, we do not know when the pandemic will be over. Okay. In fact, when the pandemic hit, not very hard for the first time, I think most of us, I know, even the clients panic, you know, but then most of them, my most of my clients will be surprised that we they, we did not change anything much. Because when we plan when I plan for them, I always look at the worst case scenario. Okay, worst case scenario, and also, I always have emergency fund for that. Yes. So that plays a very important role. Even those some of their businesses if their income app drops up to 70%, you know, but then they were able to sustain their lifestyle, because at least pandemic or this downturn, I think the most challenging part is not so much of the business, but the tension, or the you know, the pressure comes with that. Okay, as a business owner, they already have that pressure. And on top of that, if they were to have this financial pressure, it is really going to hit them and even they are held twice, but because they have done the planning, and they have the emergency fund. So it came in handy, that they could actually overcome that part of it, that issue, and they only concentrate on their business how to improve and how to do things. So their family is in good hands where they can know the family’s life, they can go on without much disturbances. Okay, so only one or two has to they have to liquidate some of their investments. But other than that, the rest actually no going on smoothly. And now with a lot of improvement. I hope we will you know, get back to the track again.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, that’s that’s really good. You Because the last year was very trying for most people, I know that there were some people who actually like benefited from, from the, from what happened with them and stuff. Yeah. So. And but, and I think like I think I mentioned that or no, no, I was able to interview some financial advisors that their, their business actually grew last year during the pandemic, because it made other people realize how important, you know, financial planning is and how important like insurance is and being able to invest, and all that stuff. But there were also other people who had difficulty in pivoting and like, and changing and adapting to all of the changes. Which brings me to like, how was your business able to fare last year and what were your struggles and how were you able to pivot from from the whole pandemic?

 

VP Thanga 

Yep. Okay. Talking about investments. Yes, I actually, there’s a lot of opportunities last year. Okay. So some of my clients where we already had plans have took advantage of the situation. Generally the business, I should say that it not affect much, okay. But the only challenge we I had was able to I mean, I have to meet and discuss with our clients online. Technology is a bit challenging. So because it’s nothing like we sit and discuss face to face, yes. So that was I took it positively. And I learned I picked up I know how to do things. And in fact, last year, I had a few financial plan 100% deal online, I never met the client until the action plan and so on. So So in fact, only this year, they came to my office, and to meet me physically. So that was a good challenge. I think changes are permanent. So we have to adapt with the changes. Now we are we are getting back business save you asked me not really hit you to that pandemic. Of course, some challenges were there, but not not so much.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, that’s good. That’s good to hear. Because I know that they’re from the other end of the spectrum. There are some financial advisors who, who saw that their business grew because they were able to contact more clients, because it’s just a zoom call, they didn’t have to have an appointment, etc, etc. And there’s also the other end of the spectrum where it was difficult for them because they’re the type of financial advisors who really like to physically see and, and communicate in a face to face manner with their financial with their perspective.

 

VP Thanga 

Yes, when you talk about it, I just remember this constant drop. Yes, it does drop because we don’t have to travel You know, a lot of things we save a lot of time we save a lot of money, you know on that. So if you put that into our business of course we make money.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, definitely. Because, you know, some of the your advisors I’m sure are no longer working in the office, they’re at home and so there’s no cost in or there’s little maintenance in the office and then there’s the the time that you save in the commute, so Oh my gosh, I remember going to the office for like, and waning in in you know, in two hour traffic’s now

 

VP Thanga 

this didn’t get algrim so you know, the traffic jams here. Sometimes it takes hours. But anyway, I for the even earlier, I most of the my appointments, I in my office were only 30% I travel 70% and based in our in the office, so yeah, that’s good. It was good. Yeah.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah. So but yes, that’s one of the good sides as well. And I think another one is that people are more open now to zoom meetings where before it was not heard of nobody wants to do.

 

VP Thanga 

Yeah, yeah, right. Yeah. Right. Yes. They also they escaped to, you know, so they don’t want to move on. So you’re right.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, because that that is true. Even for myself. I wasn’t very good at zoo. Um, I had to learn as well. So and all of the technology that comes certainly even setting up, you know, your office and all that stuff, but I’m glad that you know, and I guess it goes to show that we, as humans, in general are very good at adapting. And, and now Oh, this is an interesting question. So, now that we’re in the new normal, and there’s little face to face setup that is happening, how are you able to acquire clients? And do you actively seek help clients? Or are they more on referral basis now,

 

VP Thanga 

okay, mine even earlier, it’s more of a reference basis. Now, because this is more of a niche service in the sense that when I’m doing mostly comprehensive financial plan is a and when the client saw boom, they go through the process, till the end, they always you know, feel that someone in their family or friends, they need to you know, engage me because they saw the benefits, it is not like products, you know, when selling products is totally different, because I used to sell you know, yeah, nothing wrong with that, but then this this services, they have to go through they have to feel it, you know, when they feel it, they know the benefit of it. And then of course, we encourage them to you know, get more introduced more of the US people, I mean, friends and family members, they do that. So, for me, you will be surprised sometimes they will do all the talking, ah, they refer to me when the client, call me or contact me, they are already ready to do the comprehensive plan. Okay, so So I go on that basis, because I do as much as possible to the existing clients, so that they can rely their experience to other people.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, that’s really wonderful because it so your if you’ve made your clients become your number one fans, and that’s the I think that’s the best way to go ahead and market yourself, right? Because then you don’t have to spend money on like marketing strategies. You’re, it’s because of its word of mouth, you already have that trust factor for for new prospective clients. Now, I’m curious because your clients are your raving fans. So what do they usually go through? Like? What? What does your comprehensive financial planning look like that makes your clients really want to refer more people to you?

 

VP Thanga 

Okay, it’s a great question. Actually, the comprehensive planning is covers the whole holistic approach, it’s an holistic approach, where we start with their goals, go into their cash flow, go into the asset and liabilities, go into their investment, by the call analysis, go into the risk management, you know, insurance and then go into the retirement go into the finally go into the estate planning distribution. So, so what happened is that mostly clients are not clear of what they want, and what they have, and where they want to they want to go. So these are the three areas which they always have confusion, and they have a lot of questions to ask, but they do not know whom to refer, because this also involves their personal information. And I’m sure it is also similar in Philippians. They don’t really open up to everyone. Yeah. Yes, they need someone who can be trusted. Okay, so I have to put myself as the independent person, and I’m put myself in their shoes, and I’ll always represent them in also so when they see this process, okay, all these they will feel that Oh, yeah, I never thought of this. I never thought of that. I thought I had this but I didn’t Oh, I thought I didn’t have that. But actually I’m okay. You know, so all these can be will be addressed. So towards the end when we when I complete the plan, they will walk out with the peace of mind by knowing what they have, where they want to go and what they’re supposed to do.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, so bridging the gap. between what they what they have right now and what they want for the future. Yes, yeah.

 

VP Thanga 

So then it makes them confident enough to look at the financial for look forward their financial life with more clarity, you know, and confidence. Yes, yes,

 

Gwen Lazarito 

yes. Because, you know what, I think there’s a lot of people and I know you’ve, you’ve seen these, all of these types of people, like, they usually have, like a grand plan of what they want to do in the future, but they actually don’t have like a solid concrete, SMART goal setting on legs, the steps that they need to do in order to reach that, and by the time they’ve gone through, or they’re 55 or 65, they realize that they didn’t really get what they initially wanted, not because they didn’t have the resources, but sometimes maybe just because of poor planning, because there were a lot of things that they were that they overlooked. And and that’s primarily the reason why financial planners exist, because you are their coach, right? Because, you know, it’s not easy to save. Yeah, and and, particularly saving is not easy to save. And so you need someone that’s very, that you can hold their accountability to help you through that initial struggle because if you’re a good financial planner, then you will be able to cultivate that sense of habit for for your client to continually save, check back and that brings me to another question like with your clients, do you have like an ongoing like lifetime relationship with them? or could they just like hire you for like a certain number of months or a certain number of years,

 

VP Thanga 

okay, my practice is go on lifetime. I always tell them that I will be the happiest person when I can release you from my what he call I like for example, I can say that oh From now on, you are independent, everything is in order, you just have to follow you know, so I will love to have that. Until then. Okay, so it is a lifelong relationship. Yes. Because in financial planning if you were to engage for a few months or one year two years, I don’t think you know, it is now we can see we get they cannot get the optimum benefit of it. So I very rarely I have that that kind of relationship.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes. And you know, the the lifecycle of a person changes like their stages in life change and as you mentioned earlier, like you have clients who started out being single with you and then they A few years later there they have their they’ve started their family and it’s an ongoing like change in their in how they would manage their finances which is actually good. And yeah,

 

VP Thanga 

I guess I interrupt Okay, just one another example is that I used to help planning for the parents now I’m doing for their children. So the children also married and with their children that means my clients grandchildren are there. So it is a envoys see that that client already I should say that we have done everything for him is now is already retired and he’s now enjoying his life. Now the children’s have taken over his business. So now I’m continue the service now more on the personal planning for the children.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Oh, that’s, that’s awesome. So that that goes to show that you’ve been you’ve cemented yourself in the industry because you’ve spend like the next generation for your client, which is really good because you they already trust you that they can that you can offer excellent service because they’re their parents were like you’re the result of of your financial planning strategy. And moving into that. So what are some of the complexities that you have to deal with when providing advice to like your business owners? That an advisor wouldn’t Typically handle with individuals or couples

 

VP Thanga 

business owners. Okay. Yeah, as I told you, they are a different breed of people. Yes. They are very busy they Indian mind, a lot of things will be running. Okay, mostly about their business rather than family. And they tell you, yes. So So what happened is sometimes they will easily forget about our earlier discussions earlier decision. So that is very quite frequent. So we have means and way to overcome that that’s not an issue. And then they have too many things in their mind. So, sometimes when we discuss we have to No, discuss and then bring the scope into when we leave them, they will go everywhere. Yeah. Okay. So we have, so we have to like, Okay, can we concentrate on these goals first or these areas first? Yes, then we will address the others. If not, there won’t be any end to it. Okay. And for those who are more complicated clients, more established clients, there will be other challenges. Like they have multiple businesses, multiple assets, investments, insurance, and not just one country in multiple countries, I call them cross border. Okay, so but I have to take all the assets and add to, you know, the investments and different jurisdiction, you know, so these are some of the complications or challenges when we deal with business owners or high net worth individuals for that matter.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, that’s now that I think about it, that’s so true, because there are also different like policies, especially for let your cross border clients as well, that you have to take consideration and again, it goes back to, like, they can possibly think of those things themselves, because that’s a lot of things to think about. And that’s why you mentioned that sometimes they usually forget about your, like, initial plans with them. And so, I guess my question now is, because we’re all at our time limit, but I really just wanted to do and I don’t want to take up most of your time, but I guess my question now would be like, how would a financial advisor move into? Or have that confidence to be able to provide that kind of, like high level advice for for, for business owners? Like, do you think it needs to come with practice or can like a budding financial advisor niche directly to business owners at their clients?

 

VP Thanga 

Okay, a buddy system is a fast track, okay, where you can pick up things faster. So like, so I know we have our junior planners. So they know, when we do you know, what he called me clients or even discuss about clients. So they will check with me. You know, once they meet the client, then they will check with me Miss Tonga, this is a situation what shall I do you know how to go about? So there is someone senior who can, you know, guide them and help them? By doing that they can learn faster? Oh, yes, yes. The second body called method is that you have to experience it on your own. Okay. Which I had my no my mentor. At the same time, most of the business owners clients, which I’ve experienced, I, I throw myself into that community, you know, without knowing anybody sometimes. So because the purpose is I want to understand the mindset, I want to understand the feelings I want to know what is actually they wanted to achieve. And then is there anything, any of our services, my services is suitable for them? Then Then from there, I take on so so that’s that’s the

 

Gwen Lazarito 

you know, if I if you asked me, wonderful, thank you so much for all those great wisdom that you’ve imparted with us today. Thank you. And thank you so much for coming into the show. I’m sure that the listeners of this podcast will have learned a lot and would hopefully take into action all of the things that they’ve learned from you today. But before we formally end the show, if financial advisors especially from Malaysia want to get to know you more of or if there are people who want to reach out to check out your advice and what you’re offering, where can they reach you? Or

 

VP Thanga 

I’m in LinkedIn. I’m also you can Google my name BP Tanga. So it will bring to, you know, my company? And also want me to give any email?

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, definitely, I can go ahead and open the podcast,

 

VP Thanga 

Tonga at bp planning.com dot mind mocap. So that that is one of the areas they can even contact me via my mobile, drop me a message. So I’m willing to, you know, help the planners and also would be planners, you know, they want to be get into this business. And also the those who are public clients who like to see, you see it for me is I’ve in the in the first meeting, I don’t charge any fees. I just I have to understand the client and we have to decide whether we can work together. Yes, that’s very well, because I don’t dispense any advice in the first meeting. Get to know you. Yes, we am a very wonderful method to engage with a client. So you know, so how to engage with a client. So I in fact, I thank, you know, Kevin, and also yourself for the time and opportunity given to me, and I really appreciate and we want this business to flourish, not just you know, in Malaysia, but in the region. Yes, definitely. So I really appreciate your effort. You know, all of you. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you very much. God bless.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Thank you so much. Thanks, everyone. Bye bye. Do Bye bye.

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