In an interview with Singapore's first nominee to the MDRT Executive Committee, Asia Advisers Network spoke to Carol Kheng, secretary of the 2022 MDRT Executive Committee, to gather her thoughts and feelings of becoming MDRT president in 2025. At the same time, we learnt more from her on what made her the successful person she is today.
Originally from the hotel industry in the 1990s, Ms Kheng was an assistant director of sales from Dynasty Hotel – now Marriott Hotel – and was laid off during an ownership restructuring. The incident was as if the universe knew that as a new mother, she would want to have more control and flexibility over her time, to care and spend with her one-year-old daughter.
And as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. She knocked on Prudential’s door and has not looked back since.
Almost reaching her 27th year in the insurance industry, she shared that come 2024, she would not only have received the Pioneer Award that Prudential awards to agents who have been with them for 30 years, but she would also be assuming the presidential role in MDRT with her term starting in 2025.
Success knows no gender
Speaking like a true leader, she “didn't think that it was that big deal to be female because it's the 21st century and gender equality is the norm. Whatever the guys can do, we can do the same.”
After serving 21 years of MDRT volunteerism, Ms Kheng said she feels just like another regular MDRT member. “Everybody is given the same fair treatment, whether I’m from Singapore, from the US or from anywhere in the world.”
“Being MDRT is not about how much you produce, but how many people and lives you have touched, because at the end of the day, when you keep on doing things with a strong conviction, everything will fall into place.”
She recognised at the start of her career in the hotel industry that there were certain attributes and good habits to upkeep. She said being disciplined, organised and having purpose was key to coping with all the responsibilities as a parent, as well as an agent to thousands of clients.
Having a structured day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, she wakes up every day at the same time, cycles 10 kilometres and reads the newspaper to stay abreast of what is happening around the world.
She makes sure she checks all the boxes on her to-do list before she ends each day. Putting into place systems of how she can best do her work with the fixed number of hours a day is how she stays structured and organised. Lastly, finding the true reason behind her vocation provides her with purpose to give her best to herself and the people around her.
Her cheat days? Only when she travels. And since the pandemic has halted all travelling plans and cheat days, she has admitted that these circumstances helped to boost her productivity levels and allowed her to reach the Court of the Table.
Ubuntu in life and in MDRT
Ms Kheng shared the philosophy of ubuntu in her acceptance speech at the MDRT Annual Meeting, “I am who I am because we are.” For those new to the word, it is the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.
With over 90,000 other MDRT members around the world working towards the same goal of protecting clients whilst growing their wealth in preparation for retirement or other milestones, members know that whatever you’re saying to your client, someone on the other side of the world is also saying the same thing to their clients.
“You have a fraternity that is invisible, but you feel this connection. We all sing the same song, which is which is very amazing because there's no other profession in this world that can say what I just said,” she said. And while I'm talking to you, I know that there's somebody out there, who is speaking to their clients about the fear of death, the fear of losing their income and the fear of retiring without enough money.”
One of the benefits of being an MDRT member is the access to a plethora of resources to help a person grow professionally and personally. Besides the resources that are readily available on the website and app, members also do get to attend the Annual Meetings and Global Conferences. At these meetings, members can volunteer, network with other and even reconnect with others whom they see only once a year. “It’s very magical, it’s something that you cannot put a price tag on,” she said.
Natural progression to serve HNWI
“The time to plan is now because no one knows if there's a tomorrow waiting for him”.
She added, “Death is the one thing that I've spoken to clients since day one when I joined the life insurance advisory business. There is nothing taboo about talking about death, because that's the main thrust of the life insurance contract, to talk to people about death and to protect people from premature death or otherwise.”
Being in this line for 27 years, Ms Kheng has seen her clients grow older, become successful and amass wealth. To her, it is a natural progression to focus on estate planning and retirement planning. Helping her clients realise how much money, assets, and policies they are sitting on is just tip of the iceberg of what she does.
Understanding that every individual has a different story, she applies her experience and knowledge to advise them in the best way she can. Her advice to those who are progressing through the life stages, “It's not about jumping into estate planning, it's the progression over time, the experience, the maturity. People will do business with you if they like and trust you, and you would inevitably get referrals.”
Food for thought
Ending the interview, Ms Kheng suggested three questions everyone should ask themselves:
- If you knew that you only have three more days on this earth. What are the top three things that you would do?
- All of us have the money and the ability to do what we want to do, but we may not have the time. If you knew that today was the last day on Earth, what is the most important thing that you would do?
- In the area of retirement planning – we’ve spent our life working so hard for ourselves and our families, do you think that your money will outlive you?
More MDRT related news:
Supporting the career trajectory of agents - MDRT president Ian Green
MDRT Day Singapore 2021 highlights - Learn to dance in the rain
Accelerating in the new normal - Delia Wong, country chair of MDRT MCC Singapore
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