My Agent Journey - How it all started



When I was in Singapore Management University (SMU), I started a café called Frujch alongside 3 other partners. What started as a pitch during a school run initiative became a full-fledged business that we ran for 2 years until it changed hands upon our graduation. We had to look into the whole aspect of the business, from the day-to-day operations to marketing, to events, to finances, to HR to customer engagement and even supply chain management. It was my first foray into running a business and it truly brought me so much joy and satisfaction especially when Frujch started to have a strong cult-like following amongst the students (We had the best milkshakes and sandwiches in school!)

It was through my experience in managing Frujch that made me realise what I wanted in a career. I knew I did not want a 9 to 5 job, I wanted to have control over my career and my career progression and more importantly, I wanted my work to involve working with people. I was excited about the fact that I would be graduating soon and started to look out for job opportunities.


Rarely do you get someone waking up saying “YES! I WANT TO BE AN INSURANCE AGENT!” In fact, this industry and profession are so misunderstood that people often make fun of agents. There has been a lot of stigma in the past for this profession and I believe that it is largely due to poor regulations in the past. I was definitely one of those sceptical about the industry and trust me when I say that being an insurance agent was not something that I even considered at all.


That was until my sister got married...

You see, my sister’s fiancé was a successful manager at that time with an insurance company. One day he visited Frujch with my sister near closing time. He saw my interactions with my customers and our service staff, and he actually told my sister that he felt that I would be good at being an agent.

He saw something in me, which I failed to at that time, that made him believe that I could make a career in insurance. When he told me, I laughed at him! But, knowing that he was soon going to be my brother-in-law, I had to give him a little more respect and let him speak to me. He convinced me to take the agent exams whilst in my last semester of SMU, and I decided that in doing so, I can avoid the topic with him in the future, plus, I would also attain better financial literacy upon graduating.

The turning point came when I actually had to study and sit for the exams. It really gave me a better understanding of the industry, and I realised how important insurance really was. It made me question why this industry had such a bad reputation and I guess I felt that perhaps by becoming an agent, I could help right this wrong especially with my friends and family.

With my parents’ blessings, I ended up joining the industry on the 20th of May 2008, just 1 day after coming back from my graduation trip. And the rest as they say is history!

I will be honest. The first 6 months were so tough. I felt like a fish out of the water. Having a degree from SMU made me feel like I could conquer any challenge and rise in my career. That was not the case. In 6 months, I had only made $2000 in total. What an utter failure! Should I find another job? How do I face my parents who had such high hopes for me? In that 6 months, I did have a couple of clients who ended up buying hospital plans or accident plans from me. I felt that I could not abandon these friends of mine who trusted me with their portfolio. On the 31st of Dec 2008, I decided to start the new year with a clean slate. I told myself I needed to throw all the things I thought I knew and be open to re-learn how to be a good agent.


I started seeking out successful seniors and asked them about how they went about their business. In the process, I realised that I tended to shy away from my friends because I thought they would avoid me if I told them that I was an agent. I needed a shift in mindset! This came about when I helped an elderly aunty do up a death claim for her 40-year-old daughter. I was not the servicing agent, but I wanted to help a family friend with the claim process. You see, this lady was my grandmother’s friend who had seen me grow up. Now in her 80s, one of her daughters passed away in Australia and there was a policy in Singapore that had a death pay-out. We went from insurer to insurer not knowing where the policy was from or if there was one at all! We eventually found the insurer and since the aunty was a named beneficiary, she managed to encash the policy. The whole experience thought me a few lessons.

I am not just an insurance agent. I am an agent for life.

The devastation of the aunty after losing her child was immense yet there was some relief in the death pay-out as both she and her husband had retired and were receiving money from the daughter when she was alive. Insurance helps people. Whether it be a big or small pay-out, it is still a sum that the family could do with. Why then do I shy away from my friends when I could be helping them and their families in the process? I started seeking out my friends and family with more purpose after the claims experience. I was convicted that I did not ever want to see anyone I knew be in a difficult financial position due to an illness or injury just because I was too shy to ask them to do something.

It was at this time I also started taking courses further my knowledge and I eventually got the designation of Chartered Financial Consultant and Associate Estate Planner! Ben Franklin said that an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. This is so true, and I constantly try to upgrade the knowledge I have by taking up useful courses that will help in how I go about advising my clients.


In my 13 years in the industry, I have attained awards and accolades that I am extremely proud of. But I am proudest about the badge that I wear constantly in my heart – The badge of being an insurance agent. I love what I do, and I am so thankful that I get to have a career I am passionate about and that fulfils me. I value the meaningful relationships I have cultivated with my clients over these 13 years and I look forward to many more wonderful years to come!


If you're interested in being an insurance agent, I am currently expanding my team and I would love to have a chat with you. Send me a message below or email me at agentmamasg@gmail.com to introduce yourself and let me know why you want to be an insurance agent. Hope to hear from you soon!

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AgentMamaSG

aka Shalini Arul, a blessed mama to 2 beautiful children, Dhruv and Ria, a Chartered Financial Consultant in the insurance industry for 12+ years. Also a member of the Million Dollar Round Table and an International Dragon Award qualifier.

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