South East Asia

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3 Ways you can provide value for full-time employees with Woon Bing Fong – Transcript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, financial planners, clients, financial advice, pandemic, financial advisors, industry, career, life, true, struggles, personal finance, podcast, financial, niche, marketing, platform, finances, started, work

SPEAKERS

Woon Bing Fong, Gwen Lazarito

 

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 XY advisor, South East Asian podcast, Glenn here. And today, I’m with a licensed financial planner from Malaysia, who caters to full time employees to help them keep track of their finances as well, the juggle between the many facets of their life or of their lives. So please give it up for one being fun. Hello, and thank you so much for being here today with me Won’t bang. Alright. Thank you, Grant. Thank you for having me on board. Yes. So I’m actually very excited to speak with you because I mentioned this to you earlier that a few people have referred you to me that you were the perfect guest for this podcast. I can’t wait to, you know, chat with you and like pick your brain or for your journey as a financial advisor. So my first question for you would be that, like, was becoming a financial advisor, your chosen career from the start? Or like, how did you go about the financial advice industry?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah, I think is a pretty long process before I came to become a financial planner. Yeah, it started out. I actually was in the logistics and supply chain industry. I studied in diploma and then I started until masters for supply chain. And I work in the industry for four years actually. And shift. Yeah, yeah. After the four years I work. I was headhunted by a bank. So I worked in the bank for another four years.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Oh, yeah. That was your transition to financial advice?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yes, correct. So in the bank, then, because when the bank, I was exposed to a lot of financial terminologies and financial, and it in there, and I found out that actually I have a strong interest in personal finance.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

All right, and what made you interested in the in the industry, is it because like, you get to help people or you really like to, because I’m, some of the financial advisors who I’ve talked to in this podcast, some of their reasons were that they were also wanting to learn about financial advice, or financial planning and financial management themselves. And that’s why they went into the industry. And some actually already knew that this is like, like, they really wanted to help people with personal finance. So where do you sit on that?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah. All in all the time, anything, since I started working, I’ve been managing my own finance pretty well entered into bank into the financial industry, then I saw that there are people surrounding me, they, they, I feel that they still have a lot to improve in the in terms of financial knowledge. So then I saw these certifications, CFP. And I thought that a one, why not I take it and not just for knowledge, is a part of employment knowledge. And as I went through the course, the one half year course, then finally, I really, really like all these all these areas and all this knowledge. And I thought that maybe I could make a career for myself. No. All right, yeah. And so as I continue studying, then I want more convincing myself, hey, I think this is the part that I really like, I think this is a career that I really want to go to, to go into. And besides helping myself, then I could also help a lot of people to achieve what they want in life.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, absolutely. And, you know, four years later, you’re in this industry, but I’m sure like, are actually I’m not sure I want to ask, did you encounter any struggles when you were starting out as a financial advisor?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

I think as starting out, it’s A lot to learn actually, really a lot, because while I was in the bank, but then over the time, more and more no technological advancement, lot to keep up. So I probably spent about one, one year or less than two years to just learn about all the products in the in the market, and then all the best practices and then financial planning. So that was my earliest struggle.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Alright, so it’s more about educating yourselves and keeping abreast with what’s going on. Because it is true that in the financial advice, industry, there are a lot of changes, a lot of amendments with regards to financial advice, and, you know, the innovations that that happens in the industry. And, but it’s a good thing that you were able to overcome that because I know that there are a lot of people who like after seeing how challenging it is to be industry, they actually changed career. So what made you stay?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

I see. It says on the job and the job practice. And as I know, keep my keep myself ready for those prospects or clients that I meet. When they are able to get the answer that they want, I could actually see that their satisfaction from there. So that what kept kept me going, it also means that what I’m doing is right, until now fully equipped, not fully equipped to the way that I could resolve most of their cobis if not all, yeah,

 

Gwen Lazarito 

right. That’s so true. And I read up on you, and as I mentioned in your in the introduction, that you primarily, or just correct me if I’m wrong, but you primarily cater to full time employees? Did you? Or like, did you strategically develop this niche of clients? Or did that just happen organically for you? Yes,

 

Woon Bing Fong 

I feel that I could help full time employees more because I was in the employee for eight years. So I would understand the struggles that most, most other full time employees would be going through. And most of the time, when we climb the corporate ladder, time is really limited. And time is limited, then with some somehow with our personal finance start to fall off, because work always come first. And then if we have our own family, of own family will come in second, or even the first as well. So personal finance will come later. And so sometimes when people come to that stage, they lose track of their money, and then they would not be able to get what they want later in life.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes, I definitely agree. Because, you know, there, we only have like, what, 24 hours in the day. And then like, almost half of that would be for resting or sleeping, if any at all. And then you also have like your family, spending time with your with kids, if they if they have any. And then there’s like your career. And sometimes you actually have to, like put in extra hours either to work at the office or learn something new so that you can advance your career. And then there’s, you know, socializing even, that is something that you have to put time into. And I definitely agree that, you know, we really need help with some of the aspects in our lives, especially with finances, because it does tend to be put in the back burner. Because it’s just something that well, let’s face it, like I know for a fact that I dread looking at my finances sometimes and you just put it off and you put it off and you just need someone to keep you in track. So So you’ve you’ve really gone through this niche and it’s also because you know how like full time employees feel. And that’s very nice, because I know that’s some, I guess the the thing with a niche client is born about with personal experiences because some advisors, their niche, there are millennials who are just starting out who are fresh gadgets, and the reason they’ve targeted those type of people is because they’ve they know how it feels and then there are some as well who target like mall families or couples who are starting out and starting to build their families because they too, are in their personal life there, they’re also trying to grow their own family. So that’s very interesting that there is like a correlation between our personal lives and our ideal client base as well. Now, how does like, how do you approach? Or first, like, how do you actually speak to those people? Like, how do you make sure that you get your ideal client base? Do you speak to them? Like, chat individually? Is that like cold market calling? Or, like, how do you go about looking for your ideal client?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah, that’s a quick question. It started out with all my, my, my network, because I used to work for eight years, I know a lot of people. And at the beginning time, I, I just informed that I have changed my career to become financial planner. And I like to let them know what service we provide. So there was a lot of lunch lunch appointment for the first first two years, so just letting them know that I’m indeed in this in this career, and what is my value proposition. And most of them also engage me in a way or in a full planning way or in certain financial products. That way, and after that, it was pretty automatic, where I got referred, being referred more and more. So because they started to see value in terms of the plan that I provide. And then it makes little dent in a little impact in their life. So that’s when the referral will come in.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Nice. So you had to, you had to go through a lot of lunches for the first two years, and you planted that seed. And I can definitely agree. So here are the Philippines there. Actually, if you get into coffee shops, there are also a lot of financial advisors who have appointments with prospective clients. So I can definitely agree to and relate to that. But it, it seems like those first two years have really been fruitful for you, because now you’ve run through mostly referrals. Now. So how do you make sure that your current client has a better chance of giving you a referral? Like, what do you do in your process?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Because every now and then people have a slight changes in their routine. And when it comes to content, in terms of life stage, then they will start to think, hey, I need to do something, but they are not too sure. So they will actually, they will actually discuss with me. And that’s where the engagement is. So the engagement is ongoing. And then I will actually don’t lose track of them. And they and as they plan out their life with me. They also say hey, I also got another friend who is in such situation, why not? I asked my friend to actually contact you now to discuss a bit. Yeah, why not? So that’s where engagements keep going on. And this whole my processes?

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Alright, that’s wonderful. And now like, do you is your business run running fully on referrals? Or do you still reach out to other people? Or like, do you do some kind of marketing?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah, actually, for the third year and fourth year onwards, the the struggle I having now essentially to let more people understand what we actually do as financial planners, because as time goes by I sometimes get disappointed because I saw a lot of scams live and how they are their heartland money being not being siphoned out siphoned away. So I think all these are made driven by greed. But also importantly, is about knowledge about regulations or what, what is the regulated platforms, and so on, so forth, and also about learning who can people trust now in terms of financial matters? So, yes, I’m doing marketing. I’m scaling marketing to let people know that, hey, we financial planners are here for you. And then we are we have someone that you can rely on on funding. Intro matters.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, that’s very interesting that you brought that up one big one being because I think a friend and I were just talking yesterday about that same situation as well. And that’s still happening here in the Philippines to that nowadays, especially with with the pandemic. There are a lot of videos popping up everywhere in YouTube and tik tok, and, you know, giving financial advice, financial tips, or even like investment tips like investment tips and whatnot. And some people because, like, they sound so or they look so trustworthy, like they, they follow their advice, especially in the investment sides on like, what to invest like, this is a sure thing and investments. And we as like, especially the fellow financial planners and financial advisors, know that there is always risk that comes in like investing. And this isn’t communicated well, or even at all in some of these videos that we see circulating in the interwebs. So I’m really glad that you’ve brought that up, and that you’re trying your best to target your marketing strategies in educating other people on how financial planners are the best person to trust with regards to doing all these things, because it’s very, is sort of alarming to hear some people convince other people that, like, an there’s this certain kind of investments that provides this are this percentage of an ROI with minimal risk. And we’re No, that’s not true. And even with like some people invest first without having any savings or having any insurance. And so yes, and that’s very alarming. have you encountered any, like clients that you have before? And like, were you able to correct that certain type of mindset.

 

Woon Bing Fong 

They are actually and they also who have already been scammed. So I asked them how they feel about it, then they say, well, they first they say no risk, no gain. But then, of course, they express remorse that it should not happen that way. So then we just continue that conversation to register that it’s okay to be slow in terms of getting money, but so long that the money’s the money you get is sustainable, and not run away on just a second. So yeah,

 

Gwen Lazarito 

yeah, that’s true. And I’m glad I’m happy that you started that sort of answer with asking your client how they feel about it. Because I think it’s important that we know what they’re actually thinking about those type of things. And so I’m just wondering now, like, and because it’s, like I mentioned, like the whole world turned upside down when the pandemic started. So I’m wondering, did you encounter any or experienced any struggles when you were still adapting to the new normal? Or did you find that the new normal was even better than, like how we do things before?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah. So like the pandemic started. In Malaysia, it started in March, we have a movement control order, where we cannot go out house. So there’s the part where every like, everyone’s life changes, including my own my own family. So I, my eldest sister who lost lost her job busily and finding a new one. So for myself, my business is the opposite when my business grew three times. So it’s very unexpected. I did not foresee that at all. Most of it done through zoom and social media. Yeah. So last, last year, actually exposed me to many just on online platforms,

 

 

rather than yet.

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Rather than launch physical platform.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Before the pandemic, you your normal routine was to meet clients over lunch. And then after the pandemic hit us, it was all zoom. So So you were able to grow your business three times then before that, and so so it should be a good thing, right. So Are you able to just transition to it? Like, smoothly? Or did you have any struggles like trying to figure out how technology works? Like some people, especially me, I’m not even good at zoom. And I had to really Ace it during the pandemic, like setting up our, you know, meeting rooms and stuff. So how did I go for you?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah, I think for the first few months is a bit uncomfortable, because I would just look at the screen. And sometimes, my clients don’t want to on their video. So I be looking right into the screen. It takes a couple months to get used to it. But after that, I O is fine. And I think come zoom, then Microsoft know all these things start to develop their own platform, and a lot of months and just just explore the platform’s which one is more comfortable, or smoother. And tolerating. It’s almost the same.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah. Some of like, my friends are even saying that they’re able to save money because they don’t have to, like pay for lunch or save time, because they don’t have to commute. And so that they really like, what the pandemic has brought us with, like giving us the, you know, giving us time to develop our technology skills in handling like online meetings and all that stuff. But how are you able to keep your clients attention? Because they’re just at home, right? And they’re talking to you and in, in zoom? And sometimes they don’t even turn on their cameras? So how are you able to, like keep their attention while you guys are talking with within your meeting? Because I know, sometimes it can be difficult, like if their children are calling them or like there’s a dog in the background.

 

Woon Bing Fong 

I think it’s about timing. First one is about timing. Throughout throughout all the sessions made, I think one and a half hours, that’s the optimum. That’s the optimum that our attention will be maximized, including anything more than a half hours, we start to get distracted, our minds go haywire. Yeah, so timing is one and second thing is the purpose, the purpose, the purpose. So it was the purpose of the discussion. So we just get straight into the point we discuss it. And then probably less than one half hour, we just, we could end it with nicely. Yeah.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

All right. So you rely more on making sure that it goes within your time limit, as well as like the the meeting or the conversation really has a purpose. So that you can also set that expectation to your client. Right. So I would agree, definitely, I think if you just, you know, ring up your client out of the blue, they more likely be inclined to to not stay, but because that you’ve set an intention for your particular meeting on that specific time, then yes, they more likely listen to you and, you know, have a really good professional conversation review. Right, right. So and because you’re now doing your marketing and your you know, you have this setup for your online business now and it’s thriving, how are you like, what are your goals for the rest of the year in terms of like, are you growing your business? Or are you banking on marketing?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah. So for for this year, and for the following year, I will put in more resources into marketing and then letting people know about the financial services that myself or not or the other financial planners have. So it’s about also about continuing the education of the community, to the society that we are here. We exist. And yes, yes, yes. Yeah, just yesterday, I just spoke with one new prospect is a husband and wife. And the conversation actually lasted three hours, more than three. It’s a word of my limit, but then really over the urgency, they wanted to see me for certain financial products. But as I explained my services to them, they got very curious to, to what service that I’m having. And then so I explained to them how it goes. And they also talk to me how their lives are You know, the husband just said multiple times that this is the first time I know that this exists at all. He mentioned many times. So I think a lot of people deserve to know that there’s such service here. And then the is an option for them to look for us, if they, whenever they

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Oh, yes, that’s right. That’s true. Because I know that like some people would think that they know everything there is to know about, you know, financial management, that’s actually, including me, that’s what wasn’t what was my mindset, like, a few years ago, before I met my husband, who’s also a financial advisor. So, and I thought that I knew all that there was to know until you, my husband spoke about it with me, and he told me about all of these things. And I realized, hey, so I’ve been managing my finances all wrong. At this time, right. And I know that there are a lot of people that are out there who still think that way as well that they know, everything that there is to know they’re fine, they don’t need a financial planner. But I’m glad that you are focusing your marketing on that, because I forgot who said it. But it says that if the student is ready, then the teacher will appear. So it would see that as long as you put on your, your your services out there, and then someone is going to read it and read it all over for a period of time. And then they realize, hey, that’s something that I didn’t know, why not contact this financial advisor and see what he can tell me. And then you’ll have the three hour conversation. You say, Oh, I didn’t know that and never known that before. Yeah, so I’m really glad that that’s actually I think that’s a very good way to do marketing as well as to focus on what your what you can offer as a financial adviser, if not you than financial planners, in general can offer you because it provides more information about the profession, the professionals behind the the industry, and will definitely help out the industry. But aside from that, like aside from you know, marketing, do you plan on expanding your, your client base, outside full time employees? Or do you really want to niche in on on that particular client profile.

 

Woon Bing Fong 

And until now, I would say 90% of my clientele is full time employees, and 10% are fully retirees, and even very young, some, some are just students, because they have part time. They want us to save a bit money and help them along the way. So I think I put back best serve this, this group of people. And then of course, if any one of these people, they want to contact me, we can discuss it and see how I could not help them.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yeah, that’s right. And I’m really, it was very, I find it very refreshing that you mentioned that there are already students contacting you for financial advice. I think if I had that, if I had that mindset, when I was still a student, it would be very different. So and I’m wonder like, how do you do you change your the way you your financial management structure? Because they’re students? And do you change it for retirees as well?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah, of course, both like students. I think recently, just two months ago, I got referred to this student age 17, before birthday today, this has to be 18. Yeah. So she wanted to learn. So I know I customized the the financial planning lessons. And then I got her very basic level, at least for her a platform to begin with a stepping stone to begin with. And then as she progressed through her studies, and when she got her first job, then she knows what to do. Right?

 

Gwen Lazarito 

Yes.

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Yeah, for retirees, it’s more to having your cash flow, to be sustainable. And then to Look out for unnecessary spending, do for fun or for anything else that is not within the plan. So for, for retirees, yeah, they can have fun, but just have a number in mind before you take

 

Gwen Lazarito 

them. That’s true, that’s true, because you, like you never know what’s in store for you in the future and having to, ideally, we won’t have our clients work anymore, especially like if they don’t want to work anymore, right? So I’m really glad that you have that journey, and that you have that plan in mind. And I’m also happy to learn that, you know, your business is thriving, because I know that there are some financial advisors who are struggling to, you know, transition their business from the traditional way of doing things over to, like, what’s the new normal now, which is like zoom meetings, and, you know, setting up, like online appointments, and even like setting up their home offices, right. But, and so I’m happy to learn that your your visits have grown three times more. And hopefully, you have, like, I can see more marketing strategies from you in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your content in the, in our social media, like where do you post your your, your marketing? Is it more on LinkedIn or? You I?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

I started with Instagram. I mean, yeah, but I’m looking out to all website. So I just probably website to know to leverage on that site to expand my reach. And any other probably LinkedIn data. One by one, I can’t do it.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

That’s true. That’s true, you shouldn’t Actually, I don’t think it’s very advisable to do it all at once, especially if you’re still trying to learn like a platform, it’s really good to hone in on that one as well. So that is actually another good strategy to do. Well, I’m really happy to hear from you about that. And I’m sure that I will post the link to your website in the description of this podcast. But it’s like, it’s almost the end of our podcast. So I’m just going to ask you one last question like, would there be? Do you have any advice for any upcoming financial advisors that are out there? Like anything that you want them to know, when they’re still starting out?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

I think most of all, for anyone who is interested to know to get into this to this career, Link think MonaVie is passion and purpose. And I think if you have this too close to your heart, whatever you do, how will you do it? Or you will succeed in and doing, doing what you want to do? And the people that you approach people that you network with the people that you link with? Everyone could actually benefit from your services from your service. So I think it’s very important to have these two as a basis. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Well

 

Gwen Lazarito 

said, we’ll start moving. And lastly, like, how can people reach you if they want to know more about you and what you do?

 

Woon Bing Fong 

Okay, they go wish, why am I LinkedIn, or Facebook? Yeah. And also for of course, form for load combinations, they could actually reach me by my mobile number.

 

Gwen Lazarito 

All right, wonderful. I’ll be sure to link those up all in the description box. But for this podcast, thank you so much for your time when being and I’m really happy that you opened up to us in this podcast and shared your journey in your in your chosen career of financial advice. And thank you so much for having this conversation with me. Have a good one. All right. Thank you.

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