Financial Adviser in mid-twenties Makes $20k


Eugene Soo, only 26 years old, makes $20,000 a month as a financial adviser (sometimes called “insurance agent”).

The Nanyang Polytechnic and NTU alumnus already made it to the “Million Dollar Round Table” in his first year of work, making $8,000 to $10,000 at that time.

Now, he saves $16,000 each month.

See today’s Sunday Times for more info.

It is no wonder we keep seeing insurance agencies taking up full-page ads congratulating their own members on making it.

But what we don’t know is the failure rate…

Anyway, I guess many will continue to flock to this exciting industry.


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  1. That rocks. I’m 6 years older and I haven’t even reached 20k. Darn.

    Question: “The Nanyang Polytechnic and NTU alumnus already made it to the “Million Dollar Round Table” in his first year of work”

    How does he make 1 million just by earning 10k/month for one year?

  2. Million Dollar Round Table does not mean he collected 1 Million in commission, it means premium.

  3. Many of my friends make it to the MDRT but they don’t get that much – not even half! – I think this guy is talking about a one-off thing where he managed to combine his commissions into 20K for a month. Similar thing with MLM top distributors where they are encouraged by management to ‘showcase’ their highest monthly pay to lure their group / distributors into thinking they earn that amount on a regular basis.

  4. Again, we got to ask the press for a better transparent agenda behind this article. How many Singapore FA are earning that kind of income?

    Is the press helping this chap to promote FA as one of a lucrative career? Or a really just another successful story to tell. What about the failures story ???

  5. Yup like the above post mentioned I think it’s a one off thing – 20K definitely is not consistent as commission for insurance agents / FA is now a one-off thing, perhaps with 3 years reducing comm when they pay their premiums

    They will seek anything to glamorize the industry

  6. Those who don’t make it do not make it to the media. There’s no selling point in that. You make it to the media when you either win big, like this guy, or you are really poor, like the family in the news recently, who lives on SGD700 per month and is still able to save SGD100.

  7. I have to disagree with howcome when he says people who make it to the media wins big when their fat salaries are reported. I used to be a FA working in GE and there was a good month when my comm hit 10k – when my boss assigned me to talk to the journalist when they were doing an interview I told them I earned under 20k a month and that was exactly what they reported – withour verification! It was certainly a big boost to our department as that article was used to entice many more unsuspecting graduates into coming in as a FA as well. Since then I have left the industry – big promises but no returns, especially for the common man.for the directors, it is trying to continually put up that affluent front, not to mention sucking up your own financial resources dry.

  8. I think you misunderstand. I didn’t say people who make it to the media wins big. I say people who make normal amount like us are not interesting enough to report.

    Only big winners like this guy are “interesting” enough to report in the media. Even your case is reported because they misrepresented you as a big winner right?

    Because they felt you had selling point. They wouldn’t report those FA who earns “normal” or even “low” income because they are not interesting enough to read.

  9. Actually 行行出状元 last time I was in a top agency and among my colleagues there were consistent producers who made 10-20k per month. By 1 estimate, 2-3 colleagues of mine was making 30k-50k per month in recurrent income (all their production figures can be tracked by all), rather than what you call one off payments from single premium investments. However like in all industries, there will always be the top 1%-2% who are earning figures like that.

    MDRT doesn’t mean a lot to people in the know. It’s simply an issue of hitting certain prerequisites in order to be an MDRT, not necessarily just income level.

  10. Eh and MDRT doesn’t mean you hit 1 million dollars in income. There are certain formulae to measure the amount of production you bring in to the company. Its based more on production figure rather than income.

  11. hi there, just to clarify, to qualify for MDRT, one have to earn a First Year Commission of $103,000 for the year of 2008. And this figure will increase every year.

    There will also be recurring commission plus production bonuses rewarded by companies. Thus you can easily expect a person to earn more than $150,000 in a year if he has qualified for MDRT.

    Of course not everyone will make it to the top, but everyone is definitely not deprived of a chance of trying and earning a better income. It boils down to the individual to set his own goals and achieving them.

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  13. I guess its up to the individual if you’re looking at a glass half-full or is it half-empty.
    The article did reflect the possibilities opened to all, but may not be achieved by all. How many of us here are really willing to put in the effort and sacrifice to achieve what that lad did?

    cause = effect? 😉

  14. like any other industry, there will be a group – maybe top 5% – who can take extraordinary income consistently.

    I know personally of a friend who is just a poly grad but regualrly takes home $200k+ per annum. But for every one that makes it here, a lot more fail miserably.

    In my honest opinion, the past few years have been boomtown for both property agents and Financial advisors. The latter has gained a lot from churning investment accounts as global stock markets rose. Clients made money, so it didnt really matter if they ended up paying a few % every time they were “recommended” to switch funds. In recent months and into the next 12-24 months, it has been and will be a whole different ballgame. People are stuck and will not switch so easily. Let’s see whether we hear of anymore such $20k stories..i doubt

  15. You are right that there are a couple of “advisers” who earn their rosy comm due to such unethical churning practise. If any of you guys are recommended to surrender your funds to buy new ones, please report to MAS as we strictly condemn such act. There’s a better option called “fund switch” which you do not incur any charges at all.

    As to earning $20,000 per month just due to churning investments, it is really a challenge as we only earn 2-3% comm per transactions. Imagine how many plans does one have to “churn”!

    Most exponential income actually derived from passive + active income. In another word, our renewal comm plus new business comm. There are also production bonuses which add on to our normal stream of income. Other “mega” comm could come from Business Insurance deals or from High Networth market.

    But definitely you’ll not reap if you do not sow.

  16. I am a financial adviser with manulife and I joined the trade 2006 Dec. To date, i have earned $85k and I am proud to say that 90% of my market comes from the street canvassing. Today i am an associate manager and i am still excited to continue in Financial Advisory. As a planner, it is true that your pay fluctuates every month because cases may come in late for other months or other factors. However, if your effort input is consistant, you will definitely see results. You have to be in the trade, earning this kind of income to BELIEVE that you can achieve such results. You can’t expect yourself to understand if you are not in that guy’s (20k per mth) shoes because you have not actually earn tt kind of $ to believe it. And my 1st mth pay is only a misey $700…it all boils down to belief and hard work 🙂 Happy insuring!

  17. it sure is possible if lots of time spent away from family and friends. Those who made it to that MDRT really worked their ass off…

    i’ve got friend who changed to a car 5 times the old car price. it’s only thru persistent that they made it.

    but with new ruling in the CPF and other “loses” by big Investment companies.. i can only see our CPF being even tied down further and we’ll wait to seee if there are any more such MILLION MAKERS…

  18. Ha ha yes, it is indeed a good test with the new CPF regulations.

    But winners will be winners. Many of the top MDRT producers I know actually earned their rights via honest regular premiums business. In fact it is easier coz you will have your past year comm to add on to the new year.

    Happy selling!

  19. In every industry, there will be the successful, the mediocre and those who shouldn’t be in it. What you read are some of the ones who made it good. I have a friend who was a professional banker and he decided to leave his cushy job and became a financial adviser. It was tough going for him for the first 2 years but he was very persistent, worked hard, honestly and was eventually successful.

    He now makes more than $50k per mth consistently from his past sales and new sales as well as comm from the agents under him.

    I believe that the financial advisory industry is very rosy for the devoted and good ones. There are many people in Singapore who are good at what they are doing e.g. being a lawyer, a doctor, teacher, etc but are not good at managing their own financial investments and need help in financial advice and planning. Over time, these people would accept the fact that they will need professional help in this area – and good help are few and far in between. Their names will surface by word of mouth.

    This is a tough year. Its not easy making money but this is where the men and the boys will be separated. Good luck everyone.

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  21. Tough times don’t last, but tough guys do. A life not stretched, is a life not worth living. 😉 By the way if anyone here is keen to explore further about the financial planning industry, you can drop me a mail at [email protected]. Looking forward to sharing more with you folks. Cheers!

  22. All these sucess and at what price? How much is enough for the FA to have? The common man is caught up with buying more, upgrading more in the name of financial planning.

  23. I guess it boils down to individual’s goals and desire. There’s no right or wrong. The Map is not the territory, everyone has their own perception of the world. But it is about choices. Stay Happy bro!

  24. Having spoken to a couple of friends in the industry (not in Sg), I believe being a good and successful financial consultant/adviser requires very good communication skills and hard work. My friend from HK who gained his MDRT status works hard, even early breakfast appointments on weekends to get his clients. And it is true that graduates can earn HKD$100k (= SGD$20k) in a month as he has told me from one that he supervises. While my other friend in M’sia struggles to ‘win’ clients. There is no minimum pay but there is also an unlimited amt that you can earn each month. You must be able to ‘sell’ your product… Hard work will pay off!

  25. the system is flawed. how can you have the same person advising and selling to you at the same time? it only encourages product selling not needs based. yes we have the FA act to help curb such things but honestly, does anyone think it helps? even the most honest advisor who wants to do a good job analysing will have no time because he is busy meeting potential clients. and after a few “fruitless” meetings, the “die die must sell something” pressure emerges..if not no money to buy kids milk powder this month.

  26. it’s a numbers game – eg even for mediocre advisors for every 10 people he meets, 1 will buy. work hard and meet 1000 people, 100 will buy. but question we have to ask ourselves is whether the advise dispensed, the time spent really analysing the clients needs,etc…justifies rewarding such advisors such big pay packets? work hard = mediocre advice = soemthing is wrong. the guys who spend time doing thorough anlaysis of their clients and thus sacrifice meeting new potential clients are penalized with less sales (for “wasting time” on analysis vs selling)…strange but true.

  27. Well…then don’t u think investment bankers also succeed by ‘selling’ their products? Private doctors also earn by ‘selling’ their operations? Otherwise everyone cld just work under govt…

  28. Kudos to you Sally! In our knowledge-based economy today, product-selling will not get you too far. Sure you may get the instant gratification if you managed to “push” some products. But how long can you last? Perhaps that’s why Sunny mentioned that some has to meet 10 to sell 1. A good adviser is one who knows how to ask the right questions, analyze his client’s needs and to uncover his areas of concern. The fact is that the deeper you’re able to analyze, the stronger will be the relationship, and so will your business. The majority of the MDRT producers strives on getting strong referrals due to their characters and competency. From long term success, there’s no place for product-pushing. Hope you guys will meet your trusted Adviser.

  29. sally, i am against the system. investment bankers are the same. i have seen them shoving instruments down clients throats for the very reason the more they sell, the fatter the bonuses. Same for private bankers…Doctors are governed by a strict code of conduct espcially morally & for practical reasons – they cannot just sell you more medicine if they wanted to make money!! what if you kena overdose!!???

  30. Hi I am interested in taking up Module 5 & 9 for reasons as follows:

    a. Self improvement. (there might be a chance that I may decide to go banking and even if I don’t, the financial papers will help me understand more when I do my own investment.

    b. be a part-time financial planner. (I m working full time right now but has been contemplating working part-time as I can devote 3 hours daily to learn more about the trade)

    However, due to personal preferences, I will prefer not to tie up with a financial planning company to sit for the above 2 modules. Is there any other ways to do it as as an independent candidate?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.
    [email protected]

  31. Hi Rei,

    Yes you can sign up for the papers as an independent candidate.

    You just need to register directly with SCI at their office located at Suntec Tower 2, level 14. Each paper will cost you $128.40. You can collect your textbooks upon registration.

    You can also check it out at

    Do feel free to email me if you need help on the papers or to find out more about the industry. [email protected]

    Best wishes!

  32. I am a financial advisor, and have been one for about 10 years. My annual income is about $120k, and it’s combination of new and renewal incomes. It’s not a lot of money, but it is a decent income, and it took me about 10 years to get there.

    Do you know why I do not make more ? It is because I don’t oversell. I can tell you that at least 80 to 90% or even 100% of the top earners do one thing that others don’t do; and that is overselling. Even though I am a financial advisor, I absolutely do not envy or respect them, because I know they, almost without exception, achieve their aims through unethical means. You know the best part ? They don’t even know that they are overselling, because they dont even think about that issue at all. Their only concern is : make the sale.

  33. Gigi,
    Kudos to you. It’s so easy to be tempted to lean towards selling – whether conciously or not. Sadly, how do we change the system? How do we segregate the fact that the same person who advises also makes the sales? My solution (apart from dealing solely in one area and not both) is to segregate the advisory and sales functions. Anyway, all the best and you can be proud of yourself.

  34. Sunny, that is what most private banks are doing.

    All 3 of my pte bank accounts are handled by both a Relationship Banker and an Investment Advisor.

    But it does not mean that there will not be an overselling.

    Ultimately, it is dependent on the compensation and quota of the banks.

    It takes 2 hands to clap. The customer must do his due diligence and make his judgement on whether he really needs the product.

  35. yes, i know. i came from such an oganization. and yes, you are right it does not help with overselling. But right now, it’s much better than the present situation where Independent Financial Advisors are overselling with substandard advice (rare to find a good sales person and a good analytical advisor rolled into one). Most of the time it’s the “sales pitch” that surfaces…all i hear is “how now’s the best time to buy as market is cheap”…very much like “how i should buy as the amrket will go higher” 12 months ago. I don’t mind buying if the argument is strong but most of the time these advisors are clueless themselves when grilled on actual reasons. Ideally I want an independent assessment (preferbly bya CFP) to sign off on my financial plan and I want someone with investment credentials to manage my money. Yes some FAs are providing that but its only a handful.

  36. Not everyone can sell…if u are young, go give it a try… nothing to lose…probably only time, just take it as further studies!

    Being in sales, esp insurance sales, helps a person to mature faster.

    In fact the m5 and m9 paper u take can bring u into the banking industry AND u learn more.

    Own time, own target…passive income…well paid…and if you are and should be an ethical FA, you make lots of friends too 🙂

    Which industry pays u income even when u are not working? This is the one!

    Its not an easy career thats why they are rewarded so handsomely 🙂

    Agency support, hard work, self discipline and seld motivated are important aspects of a successful FA!

    I wish all of you luck in exploring this opportunity.

  37. I think investment banking is a better career route. You won’t get much sleep in the first four years but working hours get much better after that. I’ve been working for eight years and am now a VP – earning S$25k per month in base salary, and will be pulling in S$675k this year (including bonuses).

  38. To Ken: Are you from Goldman Sachs? Read from the news that average bonus was USD $200K. Don’t think my friends from other invesment banks get as much bonus

  39. Oh well, no million dollar salaries for I-Bankers anymore. We should all feel sorry for them, especially since a 30-year VP made only $675k this year.

  40. To become a successful IB, you basically need a strong customer base to start off. But the current economy is really hitting hard on IBs… friends in Citi crossing fingers

  41. Apologies if I sounded like I was gloating. I guess the point I wanted to make was that I can’t really think of a 30 year old making numbers like that anywhere else (except maybe being a doctor or dentist, and these guys would likely need to have their own practice). The numbers I’m making are more or less the median pay for a VP over the last couple of years so nothing special really – I’m one of the lucky few that managed to jump from one bulge bracket to another on a guarantee in the last few months so will probably be slightly ahead of the field for this year.

    I guess the last point I wanted to make was that the advice I would give a smart numerate and articulate kid coming out of school, is to get into i-banking, work hard and sacrifice your social life for a few years, get good experience and hopefully get a good boss that’s not an a**hole.

  42. I-banking definitely pays well in good times.

    I was working abroad in banking for a number of years and recently took a 60% net pay cut to work in Singapore. Bad choice as not only is the pay lower, the hours are much longer too.

    I agreed to take the job because money is not my only motivating factor, but seriously I am planning to switch to something more meaningful and hopefully have a bit of a life outside of work.

  43. That’s funny – first you said it’s a bad choice, with lower pay and longer hours, then you said you want to have bit of life outside work and you want something more meangingful

    Makes me wonder if so why would you switch in the first place.

  44. Hi all,

    I had 4 years of engineering working experience, and then back to university for further study in finance. I just graduated this dec, my first choice actually is to be a private banker, however the banks are in trouble now and I have to change my career path.

    Currently, I’m going to take M5 & M9 and giving my all to take up FA as a career.

    I inspired to earn as much as possible and own my company. However, I have a dilemma now as I don’t know how much the economy going to hit my salary. so I’m seeking a support group.

    thanks for all the people who shared their experience.

  45. Hi Yuki,

    First of all I have to congratulate you for taking the courage to take the path less travelled. It’s going to an exciting journey ahead of you.

    I recalled the time when I became a Financial Planner, after jumping over from the telco industry. It was just after 9-11. So it was very much the same sentiments we are facing now.

    Despite the economy then, I had my best production year, achieving my Million Dollar Round Table that year.

    Personally I do not see the bad economy as a threat to my business, but the greatest enemy you will face resides nicely between our ears, it’s our brain.

    We can’t change what’s happening around us, but we can definite decide what is within us.

    And this is what I love about this business, we have a choice, we have the ownership.

    I will love to share more with you. You can reach me at [email protected].

    I wish you all the best in the promising new year!


  46. Yuki,

    This industry certainly has a lot to offer. It’s given me a passion which pays me well. Like you I am educated as an engineer. Exit salary was around $5k pm. My opportunity cost and risk was very high, as I just got married, expecting first child.

    Of course you must come into this industry with both eyes open. Just like any other sales/business roles, there is a bell-curve of income. statistics from MOM states 2007, average in income was $5,283 per month. Considering that was the 60% average, that’s pretty decent. Not many actually hit $10-20k per month. Don’t tie yourself down by stats though. If you are willing, you will be able.

    There are three important things to consider:

    (1) Your personality/career suitability
    > certain types have a better success rate

    (2) Your attitude and motivation
    > if you start off tentative, you’ve already lost half the battle

    (3) The company/mentor you choose
    > read previous entries by

    For more info check out my info site about financial adviser careers: