What’s your story?
Mine is the classic story of someone inherently curious and, at the same time, caring about others. This combination drove me to use technology to support sales and marketing – be it for FMCG, Consulting, or Finance. Complexity is the enemy of action and I have spent my life simplifying the lives of others. From starting new classes at university to founding BetterTradeOff, it’s a similar story to that of many entrepreneurs who cannot sit still when they see an opportunity. My focus is on value and efficiency with a bias for action.
What excites you most about your industry?
For good or for bad, the Finance industry is complex and touches almost every aspect of our lives. You hear a lot about the good old days of banking, but I believe technology has opened a tremendous number of opportunities to solve fundamental problems, at scale, for companies like BetterTradeOff. Faced with unprecedented challenges like the situation created by Covid-19, a Singaporean FinTech company like ours can help consumers, advisers, and financial institutions all over the world to transform a major source of anxiety into a tool to live better lives.
What is your connection to Asia?
It started with INSEAD, where I studied for my MBA in 2003. At that time, Singapore was not our home yet but I met my wife, who is Korean, and we got married here. I first came because Asia was booming. Looking at the level of innovation and transformation in the region, I have no regrets coming here and being part of this region’s explosive growth.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have a bias towards Singapore. It offers a unique combination of having a strong regulatory environment with a smart government supporting innovation, as well as an open economy with strong connections throughout Asia and other major economies. It also has a world class infrastructure and workforce. BetterTradeOff benefits from the reputation of Singapore when we work with tier-1 global clients in other countries.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Focus on doing what is right, the rest will follow.” We all worry at times and wonder what will happen. We focus on moving ahead, but my personal experience, so far, has been that the world seems to conspire to help you when you focus on doing what is right. I am not saying that it’s always easy, but it simplifies many decisions in times of uncertainty and allows you to build strong relationships. Call it karma if you like.
Who inspires you?
My children. They remind me that we’re all stewards and custodians of a future that we build every day, not just for ourselves but for future generations. They inspire me to be better, to be the role model I hope will help them live meaningful lives. And in a more traditional sense, Reed Hasting, the CEO and co-founder of Netflix, inspires me.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I was attending a presentation during a Rotary meeting and discovered that more people have cell phones than toilets! On the one hand, the lack of toilets is a major cause of disease, not to mention, an issue for women, in particular, in many countries. But the mass proliferation of mobile phones is a source of hope, as many will be able to access a broader range of opportunities with mobile and Internet access. Making our digital solution free for consumers is part of our financial inclusion agenda to help everyone make better financial decisions and improve their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and their communities.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started my entrepreneurial journey earlier: the lessons learned by doing are invaluable. Not that I regret my corporate career in wealth management. The nature of the lessons learned is just different.
How do you unwind?
Usually I unwind by talking with my children and my wife about their day. I feel so privileged to be part of their life, and I do regret not spending more time with them. Depending on the time available, I will either have a walk outside, read a book, or watch a movie. Ideally though, spending time with friends and family around good food, wine, or playing golf are my favourite ways to unwind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Hokkaido for skiing. The snow is fabulous and the service is second to none. I find skiing the most relaxing activity, as you are out in nature and physically engaged in the moment. I wouldn’t mind spending a few months during winter working remotely from there and skiing during the day!
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Good Strategy-Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters,” by Richard P. Rumelt.I bought the book for all my direct reports and offered it to many of my business partners.
Shameless plug for your business:
We use technology to help people make better decisions. More specifically, we simplify and demystify financial planning, and in doing so, make it accessible to more people. We do this via a white-label enterprise solution for financial institutions, providing them with an innovative new sales channel and platform for deeper customer engagement. A SAAS solution for Financial Advisers, that helps their client’s see and understand the value of sound financial advice and advisers build trust through transparency, as well as a free, do-it-yourself, financial planning platform – Up – that allows anyone, regardless of financial acumen, to build their own financial plan.
How can people connect with you?
They can learn more about BetterTradeOff at www.bettertradeoff.com. And contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also try our free, do-it-yourself, life planning solution Up at www.upplan.sg.
Originally published in The Asian Entrepreneur