Tan Chei Huey

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Why I Made The Shift From Corporate High Flier To Insurance Agent

There seems to be a certain disdain for insurance. It seems that some people think – oh! You are just out to get commission from me, selling certain financial products just to get your commissions.

Then, there is the other stereotype – this person cannot make it in a real job and thus has to make a living selling insurance.

Just read some of the comments in the FB post above. It is interesting to note what people say.

In the past, insurance was considered an industry that attracted “cowboys” and so-called “rougher” crowd.

There is no doubt, there are certain bad eggs.

Guess what? This is a fact of life – there are bad eggs in EVERY industry.

Loosen Those Stereotypes (and Outdated Beliefs)

We are now in 2017. The world currently is unlike our parents’ generation. In the past, our parents used to say – Never talk to strangers and never get into strangers’ cars.


The world is changing faster than you can catch up. Donald Trump – a reality TV star – is the president of the United States of America.

It is a hard reality to accept if we keep clinging on to certain beliefs and mindsets. The common adage by parents – “Study hard, get into university and you’ll get a good job” is now a broken promise especially when you read stories that university graduates are finding it harder and harder to get jobs.

At heart, I am a kampong girl who hailed from a mining town from Malaysia. I have made tremendous shifts in my belief systems and constantly putting myself in voluntary uncomfortable positions in order to grow and connect deeply to my highest self.

Mindsets that do not serve me are regularly thrown away.

Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

I am in full gratitude of the opportunities that have been given to me. I am aware of the privilege – being able to expand my career within the banking industry in Singapore.

The walls of your comfort zone are lovingly decorated with your lifelong collection of favourite excuses.

To be honest, working in IT of the banking industry was my comfort zone. As long as you didn’t rock the boat, didn’t screw up too badly – I knew I could stay on for as long as I like.

A part of me knew it was dangerous to think like this. Because it meant that I could become “stuck in a rut”.

Because we are creatures of habit who tend to have our words on repeat, they become like a chisel that forms grooves in our minds, playing the same stories over and over, anchoring in our thoughts and beliefs and defining our reality.

Our words are like water flowing over rocks—over time they have the power to create grooves the size of the Grand Canyon.

I didn’t want to get  literally stuck in a rut or a groove of thought, beliefs, and words – especially those that will keep me stagnant!

Voluntary Discomfort = Step outside of comfort zone

Even then, I was slow to act.

It took a health issue for me to finally make the decision to move on and move out of the banking industry.

Money can always earn later. But health is way too precious. So I left. I decided to take action in spite of fear.

Bank Vice President To Insurance Agent

I have seen it happen too many times.

I have seen so many people tie their sense of identity to their job title, the amount of money they earn, the cars they drive, the properties they own.

It is dangerous to define your life in that manner – because if any of them were to be taken away from you what will happen? Will your sense of self-worth be gone as well?

I knew what I was getting into when I left a 6-figure job position to step into the insurance industry. I had planned for the move financially and was prepared mentally for rejections.

I will be solely responsible for my own income.

It’s been more than 2 years since I ventured into insurance. Have I ever matched my last drawn salary?

Not yet. (but it is becoming closer! I was surprised at the amount of tax I had to pay last year)

But these past 2 years have been the most enriching, learning and growing phase for me!

Crossing The Chasm Between Employee & Entrepreneur

The first year I was an insurance agent – it was my Valley of Darkness.

It was painful, discomforting to see my so-called “friends” shun me. I didn’t want to sell insurance to them – I merely wanted to share the news I was an insurance agent.

But of course, people have their own nature, thoughts and beliefs. That stereotype of avoiding insurance agents like the plague was confirmed.

I did not let it deter me – instead I held on to a few key mindset pieces I had in place to stay the course as I trudged through the Valley of Darkness that first year.

  • Held on tightly to My Big Why:
    WHY: What Hurts You – My big why was that I wanted the freedom it gave, the money to take care of my family and prove to myself I could do it. I also knew the importance of adequate insurance was as well as early financial planning and I wanted to share that knowledge. I have seen up close the impact of inadequate retirement and insurance.
  • Managed my thoughts, actions and beliefs:
    I constantly reminded herself that uncertainty is part of the process. So I read books that motivated me and regularly met up with successful entrepreneurs. Everyone has to fling themselves into the unknown to get to the next level. Personal development was key.
  • Did my homework:
    I attended courses and workshops as well as expanded my network to meet more people. I learnt how to sell, how to connect with people and find our common ground. I researched on various insurance products which coupled with my existing financial knowledge allowed me to communicate with my clients or prospects in a more confident manner.
  • Got a Mentor:
    My mentor is a Lifetime MDRT. She has seen it all in her 25 years in the insurance industry. She constantly reminds me to become tenacious and never give up. She reminded me to be able to hang out in discomfort, get used to it, realize it is just part of the process and don’t create a huge drama around it. Associate the discomfort with the awesomeness of moving forward instead of something terrifying that can stop me.

Successful people are tenacious, which means they keep the faith much longer than the average person does.

Because of this, the average person tends to look upon the successful person, before they have become successful, as insane, ridiculous, give it a rest already!

Successful people must hold tight to their vision while everyone around them is shouting discouraging things.

Imagine Thomas Edison – in his process to discover the best material for his filament bulb – was probably told many times: What do you think you are, magic? You’re never gonna get that stupid thing to light up. Go get a job!

Hindsight is always 20/20 vision. I value my freedom, my ability to do what I want, whenever I want. I have great, wonderful clients that I always envision when I first started out.

Don’t get me wrong – I still get rejections and I take each in stride and as a learning experience.

The journey ahead of me is still long. My client, fellow entrepreneur and good friend – Aidah – told me to relax and enjoy the ride. Her reply – “Your business is like a small child. At 2 years old, it just barely has begun to walk, let alone run. Enjoy the journey.”

This journey will hopefully make me grow into someone who thinks big…. someone who finds possibility more interesting than finding excuses.

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Tan Chei Huey

Tan Chei Huey is a Singapore-based financial advisor who has been helping clients to build up their retirement nest egg and securing financial protection for their health.

Articles: 22

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