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Zoom to Bloom

by K Liang

Determined not to be locked in during a lockdown was how an estate planner saved his business from a potentially life-threatening situation

The Movement Control Order (MCO) that unexpectedly creeped into Malaysia in March last year was like a death knell. It spelled doom for businesses that needed to be conducted through face-to-face interactions. For Rockwills Senior Estate Planner Chew Giok Wah, it was a thick cloud of gloom that had prospects of killing him faster than Covid-19, the harbinger of the MCO!

An insurance agent who became an estate planner for strategic reasons of reaping the benefits of low hanging fruits in a much less-crowded playing field, he was suddenly faced with the inevitable -- how to survive if restricted from meeting prospects fact-to-face.

For those who’s not clued in on estate planning, face-to-face meetings facilitate instruction-taking from potential testator (one writing the will) and specialist advice and guidance by the professional estate planner to traipse what can be a maze of complexity in will writing.

For years, Chew has mastered the art of sealing business with personalised service and professionally guiding potential customers in cafes or the comfort of their homes through the unfamiliar territory of initially wealth protection and eventually, wealth distribution.

“There was no other way I know of in conducting business,” said Chew. “So, you will understand when I tell you I was very stressed when the Government announced the implementation of MCO.”

Locked down, he would be locked out of business. Being a pragmatic person, Chew is not one to let negativity consume him. “By the third day of MCO, I started to adjust. I can’t go back to the way things were.” he recalled.

The speed at which he reacted so early into the MCO instead of waiting out in hope that the MCO restrictions will blow over simply shows the go-getter he has made himself out to be. It attested to how he qualified year after year to be one of Rockwills 100k Club Member for outstanding personal sales for 12 consecutive years!

“I had to do something to survive, to sustain business,” Chew related. “How do I engage potentials if I can’t meet them? I don’t really know, now on hindsight, what got me to start then to explore online meeting softwares on my own.

“Desperation, I guess,” admitted the Johorean. “The survival instinct just took over. This non-IT person I was, was researching online and trying out online meeting applications.”

Chew zoomed in on Zoom, a videotelephony software programme that became the popular platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars thanks to Covid-19 pandemic.

“So, during MCO, I was able to reassure clients that I remained available and able to provide my usual services via telephone and virtual meetings on Zoom. Just like before MCO, I could take instructions and provide advice over the virtual meetings.”

Chew literally bloomed with Zoom. The proof is in the pudding. With virtual consultation through Zoom, his fee income from will writing during the MCO months doubled and tripled.

The windfall was not just confined to will writing as Zoom opened up new possibilities too in other aspects of his estate planning business. Chew is a team leader to 150 estate planners. In between clients’ consultations, he could also conduct estate planning training courses, sharing and meeting, and growing his team. This allowed them to learn and adapt to new estate planning knowledge and how to stay relevant in the current times.

With the continuous virtual trainings and courses, he managed to recruit additional 50 estate planners in just three months (from May to August 2020).

“I used to travel around Peninsula Malaysia to hold courses and sharing with those who had interest to join my estate planning team. With virtual training, I have saved a lot of time. Without logistic restrictions and geographical boundaries, I was able to reach a wider audience including those in north and east Malaysia,” added Chew.

Now Chew has set his sights on further expansion of his business, to vroom with Zoom. His agility to react quickly was what saved him from a doomed situation which could have seen him riding into the sunset. Instead, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic breathed life into a business and instead bloomed with Zoom!

“Yes, the ancient Chinese wisdom holds true. There are opportunities in crisis,” quipped a beaming Chew referring to the Chinese character of crisis which has been coined as a compound of two characters, danger or threat and opportunity.

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