A seat at the table: finding your tribe in financial services

A seat at the table: finding your tribe in financial services

Carol Kheng, 2022 Secretary of the MDRT Executive Committee, shares lessons from her 27 years of industry experience: how leaders can build connections at the (socially-distanced) workplace through humility, empathy and open-mindedness.

While it may sound counter-intuitive, the past two years of travel restrictions have made me feel more connected than ever to the global financial services community.

Many of us still remember the early days of the pandemic, when national borders were closed and offices were emptied. People across the world had to adapt quickly to new ways of living and working; the financial services industry was no exception.

In my 27 years of industry experience and counting, I have had the privilege to learn and work with professionals from around the globe. Through it all, I have cemented my belief that outstanding advisers share the following values: they are passionate about serving others; they put their clients’ best interests first, and most importantly, they have the dedication to support their clients through every obstacle.

Amidst the upheaval of the pandemic, there’s no better place to see these shared values in action than the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), which unites top-performing financial services professionals from over 70 nations.

We may be facing greater disruption, but there are just as many opportunities to grow from it. I am looking forward to helping others grow, by sharing lessons from my own journey.

Staying connected

Management styles and sales strategies might differ across cultures and organisations, but I have realised from my fellow MDRT members that some experiences transcend the globe. Regardless of the hats we wear – client or adviser, employee or manager – we all share concerns about the future and want the best for our loved ones.

This is why establishing common ground is crucial to stay connected. For instance, as a mother, I send articles on nutrition or education to young parents, knowing that this will be useful at this stage of their families’ lives. Other investment-savvy clients will appreciate investment ideas or articles that can help them achieve their financial goals.

In our line of work, maintaining relationships is vital – even more so during this time of social distancing.

To guide people towards a shared vision, we need to be sincere about seeing from their point of view, which takes humility, empathy and open-mindedness. This is true for managing workplace relationships, and true as well for advising clients.

Achieving balance amidst uncertainty

One might say that insurance professionals were better prepared than most for the rise of remote work. Our profession has always offered flexible work arrangements, and in my opinion, this could have helped with adapting to workplace disruption. Being prepared for the unexpected – especially when it comes to financial planning – is all in a day’s work.

However, pacing oneself is also crucial to avoid burnout. This, in itself, requires discipline. As we advise our members through MDRT’s Whole Person Concept, becoming a well-rounded person is part of achieving effectiveness at work.

For me, physical health is closely linked with mental health. I wake up before sunrise, five days a week, to cycle up to 100km. On these long rides, I have the clarity of mind to think of my goals and aspirations.

These rides are also opportunities to feed my mind with knowledge from MDRT podcasts, investment news, and online resources like TED Talks.

Balancing your career, personal wellbeing, and relationships is a commitment to yourself, which can only be achieved with a healthy body and mind.

Building close-knit teams

‘Finding your tribe’ can become an important source of motivation.

Surrounding yourself with people who share the same ambitions, passions and goals provides a crucial morale boost during the daily grind of work.

Thinking back on the early days of my membership, experiencing this camaraderie at the global MDRT annual meetings was an eye-opening, life-changing experience. I sincerely hope that our new members will get to experience this in person soon. Until then, we continue to offer local mentoring opportunities and study groups, as well as virtual events where the global community gathers to share insights, trends and ideas.

As we enter a new era of work, I hope organisations and individuals will continue to seek opportunities to learn, grow and thrive. One of my key inspirations is the MDRT community’s commitment towards growth. Members never say “I made it” – instead, they ask “what’s next?” I believe this is a mindset that will serve all professionals well, regardless of industry.

Photo / Provided

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