What’s my strategy to avoid landmines in the financial planning journey.

X marks the spot! Where you are in your financial journey now is determined by several factors:
  1. Your Profit & Loss –
    Is there a Surplus or Deficit at the end?
  2. Your Balance Sheet –
    Is the Balance a Net Asset or otherwise?
  3. Your Cash Flow –
    Is it Positive or Negative?
However, these do not define who you are…
  1. Your Family –
    Who do you need to provide and care for?
  2. Your Priorities –
    What is most important? Next most?
    And after that?
  3. Your Aspirations –
    What future do you envision?
    What would need to do to make it happen?
Identifying problems is often the greatest challenge in any task, and that includes when one is mapping out his or her financial journey or future. The path is often fraught with landmines, obstacles, barriers.
  1. Landmines: are hurtful, often deceptive, and destructive to many
  2. Obstacles: are hindrances that impede one’s progress and movement forward
  3. Barriers: are hurdles; they are not insurmountable but require added effort to overcome

In recent times, fraudulent and fallacious claims have cheated countless people of millions — the Lehman debacle, 1MDB and others have led many a proverbial mouse off the cliff like a financial Pied Piper. Thus, every strategy needs to be properly assessed, evaluated against its peers and historical track record to avoid such landmines.

Obstacles to one’s financial journey can easily be one’s spending habits, or holes that have been draining one’s wealth away such as loans, credit card debt or even financial commitments that have outlived their usefulness e.g. client with an inheritance from deceased brother failed to see that the funds could pay off the loan for the car left behind by him. He was driving around the car with loan installments for several months before it was highlighted by his financial adviser and upon his wise counsel, paid up the loan, saving thousands of dollars in interest.

Barriers may be the inaccessibility to certain potential wealth-building tools or plans that have a stringent criterion like age, entry quantum of investment or geographical residency.

Regardless, the strategy must allow the client a means to an end – whatever that may be.
  1. Needs – based on survival requirements
  2. Wants – defined by what drives a person’s dreams to acquire
  3. Goals – defined, determinable, attainable, relevant and trackable over time

“Thus, every strategy needs to be properly assessed and evaluated against its peers and historical track record to avoid such landmines.”

What’s My Strategy?

Prioritizes reduction of waste: Lowering expenses, tax, fees, charges are all assessed for improving the efficiency of Wealth Management.

Prioritizes growing returns on investment: Raising potential returns, while considering, preference, ability and need to take risks for the purpose of raising the effectiveness of Wealth Accumulation.

Prioritizes reducing losses: In the event of calamities, diagnosis of critical illnesses, accidents, age-related issues, costs for medical care and debt; are risks assessed for the purpose of Risk Management.

Prioritizes increasing giving: Designated asset distribution to beneficiaries, trustees, executors of will and determining the guardians of children for the purpose of Legacy Planning.

Wealth Management:

Client A:

Brother passed away and left him a car with monthly instalments. Other funds were also willed to him, and he was funding the car loan as a result of his legacy from the brother.

Recommendation: Funds received should be used to pay off the car loan to reduce debt, interest expenses and the memory of his brother should be of an unencumbered gift rather than a liability for a grieving sibling.

“Wealth Management is an exercise of common sense and creativity for advisers to consolidate what most clients just compartmentalize.”

Wealth Accumulation:

Client A:

Client had several hundreds of thousands of Singapore Dollars placed in savings deposits and fixed deposits, in multiple banks, moved from time to time amongst financial institutions locally. He was very concerned about retirement and child education.

Recommendation: To utilize client’s cash for a program that can provide periodic cash payments through the duration of the retirement and provide for the children’s university education program. A professional adviser can put such a program in place.

Client B

Client realized cash values and matured policies from past life plans were in accounts susceptible to inflation which outstripped savings interest rate. Client continued to adopt a guerilla tactic of seeking short-term fixed deposits for supposed better returns.

Recommendation: Recognizing the impact of inflation, the professional adviser can recommend:

Guaranteed Retirement Income Planning (GRIP): Just as one’s income is secure during income-earning life, one’s silver years can be guaranteed with a minimum stream of income from year to year.

Wealth Protection:

Client A:

Client, in her 20s, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a spouse and two children, a girl, aged five, and a boy, aged two. How can this family move forward?

Scenario: She had purchased an investment-linked plan several years ago and a more recent whole life with critical illnesses coverage (prioritized for coverage and not savings/returns). Her outlay at the time of claim for both plans was about $16,000. The cheques she received amounted to about $280,000. When asked what she would do with the funds, her reply was: “It will be for my children’s university education.”

Client B:

Client aged 29, woke up in the middle of the night saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”. His wife called for the ambulance, but sadly he passed away enroute to the hospital. He left behind a one-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. His wife pined for her loving husband who was an outstanding citizen prompting even then DPM Teo’s attendance at his funeral.

Questions in everyone’s mind: “What was his coverage?”, “Will the family be able to survive?”, “The kids are so young, how will she manage alone?”

His widow received more than $400,000. Many would think that that is not enough. How much would be sufficient then?

Wealth Distribution:

Client A:

Client is a widower with two children, a boy studying overseas and a girl at a local university. Discussing his legacy for the children, he lamented on his devalued property that had an outstanding mortgage of $1.8 million.

Recommendation: He needs insurance that will cover his debts and preserve a legacy of a home paid in full, instead of leaving mortgage debt behind to both his children who are economically vulnerable.

Client B:

Client has numerous properties, funds in multiple currencies and a lack of financial knowledge to manage, much less obtain a reasonable return of investment.

Recommendation: The client could hold a global investment portfolio, one that allows him to oversee the management of assets, engagement of trustees and assignments. In the universe of options, a platform that enables clients to manage, accumulate and distribute their assets must be appreciated.

“In the universe of options, a platform that enables clients to manage, accumulate and distribute their assets must be appreciated.”


Conclusively, there are several key points that one should consider:

  1. What must I do to realize the future I envisage?
  2. If my financial situation remains status quo, what will be the potential outcome?
  3. Who are the loved ones that I will have to care for in their years of ill health?
  4. Who will take care of me in my years of ill health?
  5. What legacy will I leave for my next of kin?

Contact us today for a non-obligatory financial advisory session to find out more!


Kenny Teo

Kenny joined the financial planning sector in 1992. His mission to help his clients navigate the treacherous waters of the financial landscape eventually inspired him to leave his management position with a leading life insurer to join IPP, a decision he has never regretted.

Today, Kenny is an Advisory Group partner of Carmel Advisory Group, where he is fulfilling his mission by helping his clients generate retirement income streams and gratuities to provide adequate financial support for their families. With 28 years of hands-on experience, he is a veteran in the financial advisory industry and has delivered talks on subjects such as legacy planning, retirement planning, permanent healthcare and comprehensive financial planning.

But Kenny’s commitment to helping others extends beyond his profession. Kenny is a Cambridge-SMG Certified Trainer, training professionals and encouraging them to give back to society, he is organising a national conference for a globally recognised University in 2020.

Kenny holds a Diploma in Insurance and is a Chartered Financial Consultant.

“With 28 years of hands-on experience, he is a veteran in the financial advisory industry and has delivered talks on subjects such as legacy planning, retirement planning, permanent healthcare and comprehensive financial planning.”

Contact Number:
+65 9387 7474

Corporate E-mail:

IPP Financial Advisers Pte Ltd

78 Shenton Way #30-01 Singapore 079120Tel: +65 6511 8888 enquiry@ippfa.com