OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE

’What were you thinking when you left your stable job to become an AIA Life Planner, a job that’s full of uncertainties?’ That was the question ex-banker Kelly Ho was asked the most when she decided to leave her job at the peak of her career.

“It was a tough decision, especially since I’m an introvert by nature. What’s more, I was climbing the corporate ladder and I had great superiors,” shares Kelly, who turns 42 this year. “Still, I’m fortunate to be where I am now. Dealing with people is never easy but it is interesting, exciting and life-enriching.” she enthuses. Making it into the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), an international recognition for insurance agents, has been her goal from the start because it was the only way to match her previous income. “I have neither a sales background nor many connections. It was really hard for an introvert to go around and meet new people on purpose. Worst of all, I was pregnant!”

Image: G Man Photo Gallery

Embracing the Unknown

Despite going through hardships and uncertainties, Kelly claims that she learnt so much more in her first few years as an AIA Life Planner compared to her 11 years as a white-collar professional. She struggled a lot in the beginning, but it was the commitment to her customers that held her back from quitting. Accustomed to a cozy 9-5 schedule, Kelly had to adjust to a new, flexible but jam-packed schedule. “Everyone has this idea that insurance agents just have coffee all day while we meet our clients. Well, yes, we do, but we also have to be extremely disciplined and motivated to set goals and achieve our monthly targets. Your success depends on you.”

In the first year, Kelly focused on prioritising and setting goals for herself. As a mother of three boys, she emphasised that handling one thing at a time is the secret to juggling between work and family. “I’m very fortunate to have strong pillars like my parents and in-laws who take care of most of the household matters,” She shares. “Time is a luxury to me. I always ask myself, would I regret not doing something? If the answer is yes, then I just push myself to do it.”

Being a Guiding Force

Kelly is extremely proud of her relatively small team. “We may be small, but we are top-ranking nationwide – we have been attendants of the exclusive AIA President’s Club convention  for four consecutive years so far!” When asked about her best memories on the job, Kelly says her highest achievement was being nominated as Insurance Agent of The Year for the Asia Trusted Life Agents & Advisers Award 2018. “Being nominated was such an honour and an affirmation to my decision on the 360-career switch.” Now as a unit manager, her end-goal has evolved and shifted to helping her teammates achieve their goals, rather than just focusing on her own achievements.

“To be a Life Planner, one has to be driven and self-motivated,” she says. “I personally was fortunate, as my husband was my Agency Leader who mentored and guided me through many tough spots. Now, I’m able to share my knowledge with others. ”As part of Kelly’s role as a mentor, she has recruited eight individuals into AIA Elite Academy, an exclusive 18-month on-boarding programme that is offered to selected up-and-coming Life Planners.

“It’s the first of its kind in the industry and gives a great foundation to professionals who want to embark on this career path. The AIA Elite Academy not only helps provide the necessary skill sets and knowledge for new agents but also has a seamless syllabus, a financing scheme and personalised mentorship. “My Elites have really been enjoying it – they don’t have to go through the hardship I did!” she laughs. “It has been a rollercoaster journey these nine years since I made the career switch – but what a rewarding one. There is no looking back,” Kelly shares with a smile.

Think you might be ready for a career switch with endless possibilities? Log on to aia.com.my/eliteacademy to learn more.