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Leverage your past
Leverage your past

Sep 01 2022 / Round the Table Magazine

Leverage your past

Ibrahim leans on his banking experience to bring more value to clients.

By Audrey Heng

Topics covered

Financial advisors come from all walks of life, and the experiences they carry from previous careers can be a tool bag they rely on for providing excellent client service. Mohammad Ibrahim Bin Mohd Sanusi, FPC, a five-year MDRT member from Singapore, shares how he combined skills gained from his banking career to deliver customer relations that enables him to achieve even greater success for his practice.

Service is of the essence

Throughout his professional life, Ibrahim worked in front-end and back-end roles within the financial services industry. He started as a bank teller and progressed to a bank officer and eventually to branch manager. This path gave him the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of clients from different backgrounds. So, whether he was dealing with local residents, whose expectations differed markedly from expatriates, or trying to satisfy young clients, whose financial priorities contrasted with elderly clients, he learned that being motivated to deliver the best service can help him deal with anyone.

“All the roles that I had in the bank required me to be client facing, and one key principle that the bank embraced is to maintain customer relations, which required delivering the same quality service to every client,” Ibrahim said. “When I was a bank teller, we were required to render assistance to anyone that steps in front of us.”

He approaches each client encounter as a unique experience and focuses on what he can control to provide excellent service. He gets into that mindset by putting himself in the client’s shoes and by following a four-step formula:

1. Awareness – Identify and understand the client’s needs.
2. Consideration – Create a few proposals for them to consider.
3. Purchase – Close the sale by convincing clients their needs can be achieved.
4. Service – Follow up with after-sales services.

How far will he go as an advisor? One client lost income when his business was adversely affected by the pandemic. He had five insurance policies from different carriers and needed to determine which coverages he could surrender to reduce his premiums while still protecting his family as he was the sole breadwinner. But the client didn’t have documents to review his policies nor the capability to access his coverages online. So, Ibrahim accompanied his client to all five institutions to collect the information. He then created a spreadsheet, combining the client’s financial portfolio with summaries of the policies to show where there were gaps and redundancies in coverage. The process took a month and six meetings with the client, but Ibrahim was able to restructure his client’s finances and reduce the monthly premium payments.

Using the past to your advantage

Besides transferring soft skills to his current role as a financial advisor, Ibrahim also leveraged his knowledge about banking products to offer more complete service to clients. For instance, the banking industry focuses primarily on investments, whereas the insurance industry places more emphasis on risk management. Ibrahim’s experiences from both industries enable him to understand the nuances and intricacies of each.

“Accumulating experiences from both industries allowed me to advise my clients holistically on both risk management and wealth management. My background has given me an edge, as I use my past experience and knowledge to give my clients the best that they can possibly have through one financial advisor,” he said.

The differentiating factor

However, solely leveraging on past experiences is insufficient.

“Never stop learning,” Ibrahim said. “Even though I have learned many new things from working in multiple roles, I realize there still are many learning opportunities out there.”

A useful tip Ibrahim recommends is end each day with reflection and list what has been done well and what can be done better. Thereafter, make it a point to practice that item within the next 24 to 72 hours.

“Compound this practice and you will definitely see changes in yourself in as short as one week to a month,” he said. 

This habit is something that Ibrahim makes conscious effort to do each day. By reflecting on how he could have done better for the day and constantly expanding his knowledge through reading and watching videos, he is always improving and delivering better service to his clients.

“However, what’s most important is that I will make sure I apply what I reflected on during the very next day,” he added. This follow-up ensures he is best able to internalize his learnings.

A positive mindset serves as the foundation for the way Ibrahim approaches his work and helped him transition between careers successfully. Now, as a financial advisor, he gets to service clients from a new angle while leveraging the knowledge he gained over the years. What motivates him is knowing that while “existing experiences are important, even when I meet a nasty client, I always tell myself that this is one in a million and each encounter is unique. By providing the best, I can go home at the end of the day to a good night’s rest.” 

CONTACT: Mohammad Ibrahim  ibrahimsanusi1982@gmail.com