Interview with a Business Leader and Certified Advanced Financial Planner

Interview with a Business Leader and Certified Advanced Financial Planner

Ever wondered what the role of a financial planner entails? From a high-flyer in a regional sales and marketing role in a global luxury company, to a financial planning leader in a local company, we caught up with Mah Siew Heng to find out what triggered her career switch six years ago and how her life has changed since. 

Read on to find out what she has to share.  

1. For the benefit of our readerstell us about yourself, your background and what is it you are currently working as? 

I am Siew Heng, and I graduated from the National University of Singapore, School of Building. I started my career in the world of luxury, holding positions in Regional Sales & Marketing at a global company. Despite having no background experience in finance, I switched to financial planning six years ago and am currently a Business Leader in Unicorn Financial Solutions (Unicorn). I am also one of three Certified Advanced Planners in Unicorn. 

I am happily married and a mother of two.   

2. Can you share with us how you got into Financial Planning and what was it that attracted you to the job? 

I was looking for a sustainable career that would allow me to work for as long as I would like to.  I wanted a career that is meaningful and purposeful. Despite having no experience in finance, I was told that I could still become an expert at it, if I was willing to learn. It is a skill set that is not easily replaceable and will only get better over time. 

Financial problem is one of the key reasons behind breakdowns in families – I realised that I would be playing an important role in strengthening family relationships through financial planning as I am helping my clients take ownership of their finances. I was attracted to this purpose and the company’s value – “Invest in Integrity”.  

3. Can you tell us about the company you work in? 

There are no clients, only friends. There are no colleagues, only family members. My founder started Unicorn with the intention to build a lifetime of joy and prosperity in this family. It is not just a company; there is strong emphasis on taking care of the three pillars in our life – health, relationships and wealth, through continuous growth in our personal, professional and financial development. 

4. What do you like about working in Unicorn Financial Solutions? 

Beyond having a very strong family culture, our leaders genuinely care about the wellbeing of the team and our clients. In Unicorn, I know I am never alone. Help is abundant and readily available whenever I seek itCharacter development is especially important during our initial days hereThe family spirit within the organisation gives the feeling of my second home. There is always positive energy whenever I step into the world of Unicorn! 

5. How has your life changed after you joined the company? 

Health – my health has significantly improved, and I am able to manage stress better because of the constant focus on healthcare in the company. In fact, since joining Unicorn, I have stopped taking Panadols; I used to have frequent headaches and difficulty in completing even a 2.4 km run.  

Relationships – my relationships at home and with my friends have grown stronger. As some of them are also clientswe have been able to foster more intimate relationships through sharing of personal financial goals. 

Wealth – before Unicorn, when I was earning a comfortable 6-digit annual income, I used to splurge on weekly restaurant dinners with my family, go on yearly holiday trips and enrolled my children in numerous enrichment classes. At UnicornI have learnt the virtue of using my resources wisely and the joys of simple living. I am much happier now because I am earning more through spending less, and saving and investing more.  

6. What does it mean to be a Business Leader at Unicorn Financial Solutions? 

We advocate servanthood leadership which focuses on inspiring growth in our people through self-leadership, contribution in their lives and role modelling. What’s interesting is that we volunteered for this role, as we see it as a way of contributing back to the company for all that it has done for us. As a Business Leader here, only when we grow, and our people succeed, are we then remunerated well through a profit-sharing model. 

7. What does success at work look like for you? 

Celebrating the success of my clients as well as my teammates’ breakthroughs in their mindsets and progress! 

8. Was there ever a time when things got so difficult and challenging at work – what was it and how you overcome it? 

I took up the Business Leader role one year after joining Unicorn; compared to the rest of the Business Leaders who had at least five years’ experience under their belts, I was quite inexperiencedAt that point, I had to train and groom new consultants while I was barely scraping through my business. I lost three teammates within the year. It was a blow. I started to doubt my leadership and had wanted to give up the role so I could focus on being a planner instead. It was a constant struggle, balancing the roles of a leader and that of a planner, as both demanded a great deal of commitment. Performance was compromised. However, I managed to persevere and overcome that tough period with great support and guidance from my Mentors and other Business Leaders.  

9. What’s your typical working day like? 

I start my day with morning exercise, then conduct and participate in trainings and attend to multiple meetings in between before calling it a day. 

10. Top 3 skills you think are important to have in your line of work and why? 

Listening skills – it’s important to listen well to truly understand what our clients’ needs are, to listen to what isn’t being said so that we can tailor our advice and serve them accordingly. Empathy – we should not judge our clients, and instead, educate and coach them out of their current situation, inspiring them to take steps in bettering their finances. Finally, communication – we need to be able to explain the financial plans in a way that gives our clients clarity and in which they are able to accept, otherwise, no action will be taken. Candid communication is necessary to steer clients’ finances to safe shores.  

11. How do you stay motivated to keep going in your line of work? 

My friends motivate me, especially the ones who trusted me and placed their confidence in me when I knew nothing about finance back then. Till today, they trust me and refer their loved ones and friends to me. Every day, I am meeting someone who entrusts an important pillar of their life to me, so every day is a happy day! 

12. What do you enjoy most about your work? 

The ability to create a positive impact in peoples’ lives through their financial growth 

13. What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is keen to go into this field? 

Success belongs to anyone who thinks “I can”. Do not look for the job you like. Instead, discover your value system and find the right mentor and environment that share the same values, then learn the job. It is not difficult to succeed in this field.  

14. Who inspires you and why? 

My FounderMr. Patrick Tan, is a constant inspiration to meHe gave up his million-dollar annual income to start Unicorn so that he can continue to deliver the promise of helping his clients achieve joy and prosperity through financial independence. Whatever guidance he has given me, I see him practising in his life, whatever his shortcomings are, he advises against following.  

15. Finally, for the fun of it, if your life was a movie, what would it be called? 

The Craftswoman and Her Unicorn Dream. 

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