What the young want in a career: Flexibility & purpose

A recent online straw poll of 54 young adults, aged 24 to 35, found that while Singaporeans are especially concerned about job security and career progression, they want meaningful careers. More than 80 per cent of respondents said workplace flexibility is a top priority, in the poll by SPH Content Studio. Independence was a close second with over 70 per cent preferring to manage their own projects, without having to depend on others to get work done. About half value networking and growth opportunities, while just over a quarter want lifelong employment.

Flight attendant-turned-financial representative Ong Pei Yi believes her job goes beyond selling insurance products. PHOTO: GREAT EASTERN

When Ms Ong Pei Yi was 26, she scored her dream job: A flight attendant with Singapore Airlines (SIA).

Ms Ong shares that her stint with the national carrier helped her to fulfil her childhood dream of becoming a "Singapore Girl" and sate her curiosity in the service sector.

But her dream was short-lived. While rewarding, the job required her to travel regularly, for an average of 20 days a month, limiting the amount of time she could spend with her parents.

"My mom is getting on in years and I wanted very much to be in Singapore more often so that I could be around her," says the 29-year-old, who lives with her mother and father, both 67, in a four-room Housing Board flat in Yishun.

In 2004, her father suffered a stroke that affected his ability to walk. With her father unable to work, the family feared that they would not be able to pay for his living expenses after he was discharged from the hospital.

A five-figure insurance payout from the Dependants' Protection Scheme (DPS) - a term-life insurance scheme that automatically covers Singaporeans and permanent residents upon their first contribution to the Central Provident Fund - helped to defray those costs.

It was a great weight off her family's shoulders, Ms Ong recounts. "Since then, I have always appreciated the importance of insurance and how it could really help a family in difficult times."

Keen to share the importance of insurance with others, she left SIA after 17 months to join Great Eastern as a financial representative in October last year.

The career switch was initially challenging, she admits, but the customer service skills developed from her time with SIA proved useful. "When it comes to reaching out to prospective clients, I am able to communicate easily with them."

Just a year into the job, Ms Ong is already finding her new career path rewarding.

Like most of the young polled, she appreciates the flexibility and independence. "My hours are really flexible and I get full autonomy to plan my time and schedule around my family commitments."

"I'm glad to be able to introduce and offer financial products to my clients that could benefit their lives meaningfully."

A day in the life

Mr Syafiq Shah at the Great Eastern VOLTAGE centre, which opened its doors last December. PHOTO: GREAT EASTERN

Great Eastern financial representative Syafiq Shah, 26, (above) shares what he's gained from a career in financial planning.

Before Mr Shah graduated from the University of Wollongong with a degree in commerce (finance), he underwent a four-month internship in retail operations at a bank.

The "typical corporate office environment" left much to be desired, and led to him choosing a career in financial planning instead.

"What I want out of my career is to be able to work as hard as I can and achieve work-life balance at the same time.

"I love the fact that I am able to make my own schedule for the day. With this job, I always feel positive and happy when waking up in the morning for work."

The job satisfaction has led to success. Within just four months of being a financial representative, he received the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Aspirant Award.

The MDRT is a global trade association that recognises top-performing financial services professionals around the world.

Growth opportunities

Mr Shah shares he has seen families and relationships sour due to money issues and a lack of planning.

With this experience, he hopes to help people insure themselves against unforeseen events and accidents - especially amid the uncertainties from the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I want to reach out to people and make an impact on their lives by educating and empowering them with financial planning, so that they can proactively take steps to adequately protect their financial well-being throughout their lives."

Lifelong learning

It has only been a year since Mr Shah became a financial representative, but he already sees himself staying put for the long haul.

He says that regular training courses offered to financial representatives to update their skills make him feel more secure and assured about his future in the industry.

"The best part of the job for me is being part of my clients' key life stages, and the opportunities for lifelong learning encourage me to push myself and think differently all the time."

*Minimum entry requirements for aspiring financial representatives: a full certificate in GCE 'A' Level, an International Baccalaureate Diploma qualification, a diploma from a polytechnic in Singapore, or any other academic qualification equivalent to the qualifications stated above.

Candidates are required to complete a Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) examination and be licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) before conducting financial advisory services.

This feature is the last of a four-part series by Great Eastern.

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