Hi, what are the pros and cons of buying insurance from an independent agent vs direct agent? I am considering getting a life insurance with Early CI rider and both agents recommend NTUC Star Assure. Any thoughts? - Seedly
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Asked on 13 Apr 2020

Hi, what are the pros and cons of buying insurance from an independent agent vs direct agent? I am considering getting a life insurance with Early CI rider and both agents recommend NTUC Star Assure. Any thoughts?

What would be the advantages of going with an independent agent over a direct agent? Or vice versa?


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This is going to be hard for me to answer neutrally, but since I'm on vacation and in a really good mood...

First of all, asking you very personal, possibly jarring questions about your financial status is very normal. Personally, to me anyway - the more jarring, the better. My model has always been the fella who wastes no time exposing both the strengths and flaws in your financial portfolio. Your time is money - the less time you spend on it and the more time someone else does, the more you benefit.

Of course, thats theoretical. So it has to be a combination of four things: 1) Sincerity 2) Knowledge 3) Effort 4) Feel

1) You already mentioned he seems sincere. I think one of the best ways to gauge sincerity is that the planner is extremely upfront with his/her limitations. Maybe hes new. Maybe he's not the best dresser. Maybe the question you asked him is actually too hard for him. Whatever it is, you get a clear picture of someone who is very honest and not a poseur who wants to inspire a false sense of confidence in you - but someone who just wants to help you to his best ability. That's why it has to be balanced with -

2) There has to be a limit to how little you know. If you ask 10 questions and the FA can't answer 8 off the bat or at least something that sounds logical, you kind of know this may not be the FA for you. As a general rule, I never sell something I can't answer eventually or something that the client may potentially be better than me at - which is not that all uncommon today. But at the same time,

3) You want to gauge more on the effort of the FA rather than his present knowledge. This is ESPECIALLY important if you're getting from someone who is a) around your age b) a friend. If the person can't answer a question, does he get back to you promptly with the answer after finding someone or a resource that does?

This is actually a very common occurrence when it comes to buying CI policies, Term or Life, because while the insurers have to follow LIA guidelines, their definitions for claiming can be very different. ILPs with ECI have started to emerge recently - where they cover an even greater range of CIs than most policies and it makes balancing investments, insurance, coverage range and budget exceedingly complicated. Even a veteran FA in the industry can't be expected to answer questions related straight away, but do they show you they value you by addressing your issue promptly?

4) And lastly, the feels.

Trust me, the feels go a long way. And it's not just one way, it's on the FA side as well.

For you, an FA can be perfect but if you don't FEEL like having a long term relationship with this infuriating character, it just might not be the right fit.

Personally, I've experienced this and have tried not to take it personally the older I get in this industry. I've spent 3 hours with an auntie harping over the same issue before trying to explain that I'm not cursing her son every time I talk about insurance. Could she tell I was sincere? Sure. Did she think I was knowledgeable and putting in a lot of effort for her? Certainly. Did she think that we were going to get along in the long term? Most definitely not.

So on your end, that (4) can overwhelm the rest, and it's unfortunately worth considering as well.

Choose an FA who you think will go an extra mile for you, even when they're on holiday. (heh)

I usually leave an avenue to contact me, but how about you give your FA a second chance now that you've read this? :)

Luke ​​​


Thank You!
Can you clarify
I wonder if
This is so helpful 👍
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Hi Charmaine, this is a tough one. Being a blogger in this realm, I met many good acquaintance who should be above average when it comes to being financial advisors.

For myself, my luck have not been good. I think that sometimes we need luck to find a financial advisor that will be a good partner with you.

But you can help yourself by elminating areas where you will come across advisors that are less competent, do not have good heart.

Firstly, you must know to a certain extent what u need, why you need protection, what is out there. If you do not, most of advisors will try their luck to fleece you.

This is regardless of whether they are tied or not. Most have an economic incentive to push their luck with you.

You can try talking to those older and experience advisors but some of them will let their experience speak and overwhelmed you to trusting them with everything. I would be careful there.

The opposite spectrum will be those that show you the hard numbers, how these numbers and plans help you.

It's good to have mixture of the two above.

I have 2 advisors leaving me and my first one uses his experience to overwhelm me without the numbers.

What saved me was that I know to an extend the fundamentally right things to do. So I did alright.

If you were to choose, the ifa nowadays have a wider range of investments recommendation at their disposal. If the range is limited, no matter how great the agent is, she can only recommend inferior products. Let me know if I havent answered well.


Thank You!
Can you clarify
I wonder if
This is so helpful 👍
What about


I value the following

  1. Sincerity

  2. Candour

  3. Knowledgeability

  4. Commitment

  5. Non-mercenary ...

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