By Janice Chrysilla and Kuo Pei Yu
Rondy Krish is a Financial Services Manager at AXA, leading a team of seven financial advisors to grow professionally and so help to add value to client portfolios via various services. Prior to joining AXA as first a financial planner, Rondy had been working as a relationship manager in a bank. There, his role, though similar to his work at AXA, had been more focused on wealth accumulation for clients through investment and savings. In part, his career change was motivated by a desire to work with a much broader, more holistic client base – which he now does, with clients in protection, retirement, hospitalisation to even children’s education.
I first joined the company as a financial planner, and now I am a Financial Services Manager. On a day-to-day basis, we meet clients, ascertain what their financial needs are, and propose solutions to suit these needs. Right now, I lead a team of seven financial advisors here at AXA. A large part of my job is to help my team grow and provide more value-added services to our clients.
Yes, I was previously a relationship manager in a bank. My work at the bank is similar to what I do now, except that in the bank, we talk to the clients and focus more on wealth accumulation, such as investment and savings. I was there for close to 3 years.
I decided to switch my job after I realised that, in my current job, the overall portfolio that I could offer to clients is broader. For instance, in banking, I work mainly with savings and investments, but in AXA I can do a lot more, such as protection, retirement, hospitalisation, children’s education, and so on. I think this approach is a lot more holistic.
Another reason behind my industry switch is that there is a lot more flexibility in what I currently do here. I also get a lot of support from my agency. I realised that having people around to help you in your growth and personal development is very important. In my current agency, there is plenty of room for me to grow, especially in terms of employees’ personal development. As compared to banks where everything was very fast-paced and people tended to do their own work individually, I am thankful that I get to be groomed personally by my manager here. My current job also offers more flexibility in terms of working hours, whereas the working hours of banks may seem a little rigid at times. Overall, I personally enjoyed this job more – it’s already my fourth year working for this agency.
After completing national service and polytechnic, I went to a recruitment firm. There, I got my first job in the customer service call centre of an insurance company. From there I learnt about health insurance products. Back then I had thought that I didn’t want to do financial planning – even though it is my current role – and I moved to another insurance company, which was still in the customer service call centre, but did not sell any products in this position. The third company that I went to was AXA, and I was also doing customer service there.
However, throughout these years, I told myself that insurance was something that I did not want to do. At first, I wanted to work in a bank, because it seemed more prestigious. I also had the perception that bankers earn a lot of money, and that there is a good career progression in banks. However, after I went into the sector, I realised that banking was not what I wanted. There was a lot of micromanagement and long working hours – close to 12 hours a day, excluding working on the weekends to meet clients – and I felt that the amount of effort did not justify the remuneration.
Furthermore, when my current director approached me, and explained to me that if I were to put in the same amount of work here at AXA, I will be compensated better, I immediately felt that that was more equitable. This was how I ended up here; although it might seem like an irony at first, as I had initially told my boss that I would not consider the insurance industry at all.
In a corporate job, you will expect to work from 8.30am to 6.00pm a day. Over here, we are more flexible in terms of timing, so I will usually start my work at 10.30am, where I will conduct trainings for my colleagues, attend meetings and have appointments with clients. My day mainly revolves around meetings and training sessions, as I am leading a team.
However, when I worked as a financial planner, I spent most of my time meeting clients. My work is definitely not the typical 9 to 5 job. On good days, I can end as early as 3.00-4.00pm, while there were also days where I had to meet clients until 10.00pm.
Usually when young people first enter a job, no matter what industry or job they are in, they will have to put in more effort to learn as fast as possible. Things will get easier once you have the expertise, and you will have more time for yourself.
I think young people today might have the perception that they will land themselves in a job where they can spend half the time working while prioritising the rest of their time doing things they enjoy. However, this is highly unlikely in most corporate jobs – you may have to work overtime, even on weekends and may have to bring work home occasionally. However, in my industry, I realised that the work gets easier over time as you establish your client base.
I believe that my team and the culture here at my agency motivates me to work hard daily. For instance, most of the people here at the office are generally young. Even my own director is 39 years old this year, and he is not the youngest. Our youngest director at AXA is 28 years old. I believe that no matter where you go, the people in your team and the culture of your workplace is more important than the brand name of the company. These are crucial factors for you to enjoy your work in the long run.
Furthermore, at my agency, employees are rewarded for what they do, through both overseas trips and monetary incentives, such as the one I had to Las Vegas. These trips are fully sponsored by the company, from air tickets to food and accommodation. The travelling bonus is one of the key highlights of my job as I really love travelling.
However, at the end of the day, the aspect that motivates me the most is the ability for us to help clients, and touch their lives from what we do. In comparison to most corporate jobs where the emphasis is on generating profits for the company; insurers, such as AXA, focus more on a client’s needs. This is different from most corporate jobs where you get to interact with your clients at a personal level. In fact, a lot of my clients have also eventually become good friends.
I think the main obstacle about this job is the rejection that you have to frequently face from clients. At the start, facing rejection is inevitable, and after some time people will feel very negative about it, eventually becoming demoralised. That is why some people tend to avoid entering this industry.
How I got through this was to be really focused on what I wanted to do, which is to support my family, be an efficient manager and lead my team well. And when I turn to my team and my peers, we spur each other on, which really helps keep me going in this industry. The relationship with people is one of the main factors that makes me strive for excellence. Being in a people-oriented business where I get to talk to different people every day gives me a lot of exposure and that really interests me.
Before I joined the industry, I was actually very quiet and introverted. I would not talk if I am in a group of people and would not initiate conversations because I love listening more than speaking.
However, the nature of my current role encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, and helped me to be more outspoken. Initially it was quite tough, even to the point where I was questioning myself as to whether I was suitable for this job. But over time, I learnt how to adapt to the nature of the job and that changed me into who I am today.
In the past when I was making my decisions, I did not have someone to talk to, so I was very uncertain about what I had to do. If I were to be given a chance to tell my younger self something, I would tell my younger self to believe in myself, and not worry too much about what other people would say about the negativity associated in this career. Because most of the time, these people are not walking your journey – the words of advice they give are mainly based on their own perspectives. Following this advice, if I could turn back time, I would have worked for AXA right from the beginning.