I recently revealed the place I’m working at – Providend, and you can watch me talk about the reasons I’ve joined in the video below. Providend is a fee-only wealth advisory firm which is the first of its kind in Singapore and probably still the only one. Instead of hidden commissions, client pays us a fee for our advice.

Commissions vs Fees

Some of you may already know that I was an insurance agent right after I left NS. I worked at an insurance agency for six to twelve months, selling insurance plans. However, I soon realized that the ILPs (investment-linked policies) and savings plans I was selling were not good for my clients. I bought these plans myself, and even with my commissions, I found them to be pretty crappy. I decided to leave and join an IFA firm where I could provide my clients with good and holistic advice.

It turns out that commissions can work both ways. When you sell a product that is good for the agent’s pocket, it’s bad for the client who pays every dollar of it. When you sell something that’s good for the client, your pocket suffers because your commission is low. This is the nature of life and commissions, and unfortunately for me, I did the latter for around 3 years and earned about a thousand dollars per month for that period of time. It’s a really bad income in one of the world’s most expensive countries.

As a young adult, I was driven by the idealistic goal of doing right by my clients and offering them the best products available, and I naively thought I would be rewarded for it. However, after more than 3 years of earning nearly nothing, I realised that nothing was going to change. I hence left the industry and started my own tuition business.


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Discovering Providend

Many years later, I started my YouTube channel, where I recounted my struggles of trying to be an ethical adviser. Someone forwarded my video to a group chat, saying that my story reminded him of a person named Christopher Tan. He found my story interesting and reached out to me for a drink, and that eventually led to a job offer. I found the opportunity too compelling and interesting to turn down.

And just like that, I have rejoined the financial advisory industry! To be perfectly clear, I have joined Providend which is the first, and probably still the only, fee-only firm in Singapore. This means that we do not take commissions, and do not have a vested interest in selling products for remuneration.

Instead, we charge a fee to our clients, and our clients are our sole paymaster when it comes to the financial advice we give them. Some people may think that fees are high and expensive, but they often pay far more in commissions when they buy subpar products with hidden and embedded commissions, and end up with a lousy product. It’s a double whammy, whereas fees are fair, transparent, and the best way to go when it comes to remunerating someone for their services, especially in financial advisory.

What this means for readers and viewers

This site and YouTube channel will remain independent from my full-time job. In fact, it’s been more than 8 months since I started my job in the middle of 2022 and nothing about my articles or videos has changed.

My belief is that most people are better off managing their finances themselves, and my channels are always meant to provide resources such that it’s possible to do-it-yourself. By and large, the majority of people who have simple needs can do a lot on their own, and listening to the right advice online is all that is required to have a good sensing on how to DIY. I may be biased, but reading and watching my content puts one in good stead to handle their own finances.

I do, however, talk about my time in the company as a way to show those looking for a job how’s life over at my company. Again, there is no referral incentive for me to earn, but Providend is actively hiring, and I would be happy to be the bridge connecting great people to a great firm. They have a careers page, so hit them up if you are keen on any of the roles listed and I look forward to having more colleagues to work alongside.

Lastly, the nature of the job is also such that I deepen my knowledge in important aspects of personal finance, and that would definitely help me create better content for both the website and YouTube Channel.

Employee life

I have been with Providend for over 8 months now, and I must say it has been a great experience so far. Providend has proven to be a perfect fit for me as a financial advisor who prioritises ethical practices. I find the people at Providend to be genuinely nice, and the work culture is nothing short of impeccable.

In fact, I realised that whatever I was trying to do on my own when I was in an IFA is exactly what Providend has been doing for the past two decades on a firm level with entire departments dedicated to things like marketing, client solutions, and research all to support advisers in their work to advise clients.

On top of that, one of the most amazing things about working with Providend is their “work from anywhere” policy, which allows me to work remotely from somewhere like Bali while taking calls from clients and colleagues.

After being self-employed my entire adult life, I finally found myself employed in my mid-30s, and I must say it has been refreshing. I enjoy meeting my colleagues, going out for lunch, and knocking off at 6 pm to come home.

Being a full-time employee also comes with many perks, such as annual and medical leave, claiming for medical expenses, claiming for learning opportunities, and even bonuses. As someone who has never received such perks before, something like knowing exactly how much my pay is and when it will come in every month is still kind of remarkable to me.

Anyway, I gotta stop now – we’re on an overseas company retreat, and I got a big day tomorrow. Stay tuned to more content and do subscribe to the Telegram if you haven’t already done so.

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