About Wendy Koh
Senior Financial Advisory Director
SingCapital Pte Ltd
If I can do it, so can you!
In hushed tones, the gaggle of women huddled together to gossip about their new colleague, Wendy. At only 17, Wendy was their newest addition to the team, but instead of welcoming her into their family, the group had decided to band together to make fun of her, sometimes in private, but most of the time, openly. Not that Wendy had done anything wrong; she was just different from them, in that, she was Chinese-educated.
Welcome to the world of the 1970s, when being Chinese-educated meant that you were not very well-respected by the rest of society, especially if the environment was English-speaking. Colleagues would not even snidely remark that you were Chinese-educated, but label you a “是不是” (loosely translated as “yes or not”, a derogative term used to refer to the Chinese-educated, mimicking the most commonly heard words or sounds used in the Chinese language).
So like all the other Chinese-educated people in Singapore at that time, Wendy was not going to have a good head start, but unlike the other Chinese-educated ones, her problems were further compounded by the fact that she was working for a government body, a traditional haven for all those English-educated. And where job progression was concerned, the prospects for Wendy were dim.
But none of these was going to be an obstacle for the indomitable Wendy. Having been born into a humble family where boys naturally had the priority in education – there was a total of three boys and three girls in Wendy’s family – Wendy was no stranger to hardship and sacrifice. So instead of being daunted by her circumstantial handicap in English, she decided to take on the challenge and play the hand that she was dealt.
She shares, “I was determined to understand the language, speak it, and never allow it to be a liability for me ever again.”
Speaking to Wendy today, one would never realise that she was once someone who found the English language a challenge. And for the feisty lady where giving up was never really part of her lexicon, staying put in the manufacturing facility run by a government body would not be part of her plan – for long.
So in 1981, Wendy was set to achieve the next milestone in her life. Drawn by the flexibility of time and the possibility of an income that was only determined by how hard one worked, Wendy joined the real estate industry as a real estate agent (as it was previously called). The move proved to be a success. Her love for people and passion for properties soon resulted in her success and her real estate services became much sought after with the continuous referrals from her clients. Her professionalism and dedication to her job also spread far and wide, and naturally, her network expanded.
Despite her busy schedule, Wendy had ample opportunities to spend quality time with her two children, who are of utmost importance to her. And because she was able to watch them grow up, Wendy was able to inculcate in them the values of hard work, thrift and other money values that hold dear to her life.
Monetarily rewarding, flexibility of time and the right of self-determination. It seemed that Wendy had found her ideal profession – at least for the time being.
The Yellow Brick Road To Financial AdvisoryNever one to rest on her laurels, Wendy was always on the lookout for opportunities to serve her clients better.
After leading multiple clients to their dream properties, Wendy realised that property owners generally lacked awareness about the concept of risk management and insurance protection. Wendy, on the other hand, knew that while properties make tangible investments, insurance is a vital instrument that protects and brings returns in times of unforeseen contingencies for an individual and their loved ones.
With the desire to educate those around her, Wendy took the extra step to be a certified insurance advisor. What started off as a value-add later turned into an overwhelming passion. Wendy was soon spending so much time educating her clients about the importance of insurance and protection that it was a matter of time when she moved over to the insurance industry.
Initially, Wendy faced much resistance from potential clients and even her own family members because not many people could see the value of insurance. To these people, spending money on insurance premiums was hardly a wise thing to do since insurance policies hardly yielded anything like immediate investment returns. But Wendy, like she always is, was never one who gave up. Instead, she persevered in increasing her understanding of the industry, and in no time, her knowledge, skills and personalised advice won over those around her. Her ‘converts’ came from all walks of life: executives, blue collar workers, high net worth individuals. In short, Wendy’s doggedness was infectious.
For 18 years, Wendy remained with the same renowned insurance firm, spreading the message of the importance of protection. In 2003, however, Wendy made the decision to move up the value chain by going over to an independent financial advisory firm in 2003. The strategic decision gave her the chance to provide an all-round financial service for her clients’ growing needs, including home upgrading, child education and retirement planning.
Becoming a full-fledged financial advisor was a momentous decision for Wendy. The ability to impact lives was not lost on her. Wendy only had one goal and that is to serve her clients beyond monetary returns, and to see their lives unfold beautifully with proper financial planning.
With this goal in mind, Wendy went all the way out to make sure that her clients were getting the best advice. Her dedication in terms of time and energy was felt by those who engaged her services, and she soon garnered support from a loyal group of clients who has been with her for decades.
Reaching SingCapital CityIn 2009, after about 6 years with the first financial advisory firm that she joined, Wendy once again made a decision which was going to help her fulfil her financial advisory calling at a much higher level. At the recommendation of an ex-colleague, Wendy began to consider SingCapital, a young financial advisory firm set up two years earlier, in 2007. Although she was already very established in her previous company, Wendy was attracted by more opportunities. Working with Alfred Chia and SingCapital opened the door to managing the finances and property portfolios of more real estate investors.
Seeing that this was indeed the chance of a lifetime, Wendy made the momentous decision to move, once again breaking all preconceived notions about what this determined lady could achieve. Her dedicated team of financial advisors believed in her decision, and joined her in her move.
Today, the award-winning lady’s team is growing steadily in the company, and she is a respected leader amongst her Consultants. Despite this, she still personally takes the time to serve clients from all walks of life.
To Wendy, it is neither the number of awards she has clinched over the years nor the monetary returns from her career that keep her going; instead, it is the fulfilment of helping her clients get the claims and coverage that they rightfully deserve.
“Every client’s rights are definitely worth fighting for. I believe that with every successful claim and new implementation case, I have touched a life in a positive way!”
The 5 ‘H’s To SuccessWendy is truly a Financial Consultant who serves from the heart. With the vast knowledge and years of experience under her belt, she is a rare gem in the industry today. Despite not getting a head start like her ex-colleagues in the government body that she worked in, the Wendy you see today is armed with multiple qualifications backed up by many years of experience. Among other things, she is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFc). Truly no mean feat for a person with a Chinese-education background.
What is her secret to success so far?
“A good Financial Consultant is one who works with the ‘5 Hs’: Hard work, Honesty, Humility, Honour and Harmony. As long as the ‘5 Hs’ are adhered to, success will follow.”
Educating The Young About MoneyAs a Chinese-educated person who has succeeded against all odds, and as a career woman who has provided and cared for her two children through their growing years, Wendy believes that it is of paramount importance to educate the young about the value and the proper use of money. If not, these young ones will one day grow up to be the “scourge of society”.
As such, Wendy has taken the lead in her own family to educate her children about the value of money and prudence.
“I teach my children to save for a rainy day, invest in education, differentiate needs versus wants, invest in property, live within their means, dispose their old stuff before buying new ones and more importantly, donate generously to those in need.”
And because of these values, both of Wendy’s children are doing extremely well for themselves, and doing their bit for others and their mother as well. At a recent birthday celebration, the duo donated money to a charitable organisation in their mother’s name, honouring her for the valuable lessons taught to them.
Wendy has come a long way since those days when she was mocked for her poor command of English. She has reached many milestones in her life, and if you think that she is going to take a break any time soon, beware! The go-getter is not going to stop any time soon, and she hopes that her story will be an inspiration to others, especially women who have suffered any form of disadvantage in their lives.
To these people, she has this to say:
“If I can do it, so can you! Persevere and push on, and success will be within reach, whether it is in your career or family.”
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SingCapital Pte Ltd
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HDB Hub East Wing,
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