My friends and clients often ask me how I got into the business of Estate Planning. Well, it is a long story that goes way back to 1995. At that time, I was still working in the head office of a local bank in Penang.
Just as when the Ban Hin Lee Bank Berhad went for a public listing in 1991, it decided that it had to innovate by providing new financial services to the public. One of their innovations was a Will writing service. At that time, no other bank in the country had planned to introduce this and so, I can confidently claim that this was indeed a ground-breaking idea.
In 1995, the bank began discussions with a new start-up company from Kuala Lumpur, called Rockwills Corporation Sdn Bhd, to provide just this service. As Rockwills was also looking for an opportunity to kick start their business, this tie-up made very good business sense to both parties.
So how did I come into the picture? At about the same time, I was already with the Systems and Quality Control Department with the bank. Among my duties was to supervise my colleagues in writing the bank’s operations manuals. As part of the process of the launch of the Will writing service, we were taken through the nascent Rockwills standard procedures by Saw Leong Aun who is today the managing director of the Rockwills Group of Companies. It was a very comprehensive training and later, we had to decide how to incorporate their procedures into our own. We had to write an extensive operations manual and then conduct training for the branch staff.
The relationship between Ban Hin Lee Bank and Rockwills Corporation was very close, particularly since Rockwills itself had a tie-up with BHLB Trustee Berhad (a Ban Hin Lee Bank subsidiary company) to provide an exclusive trustee appointment.
However, the shifting banking environment as the Nineties drew to a close gradually forced the relationship apart. After Ban Hin Lee Bank was swallowed up by Southern Bank Berhad in July 2001, the emphasis on the Will writing services took a back seat with the latter entity. As this was no long a priority financial service for Southern Bank, the ties with Rockwills Corporation were unshackled eventually.
The bank merger had also deeply affected all the staff in Ban Hin Lee Bank. Some received their voluntary separation scheme packages while most at the head office were redeployed to other functions. I, for one, was transferred to branch operations in Kulim. I stayed in the banking industry for one more year before I decided to move on. Eventually, I joined JobStreet.com as their Content Manager.
In anticipation of this career change, I inquired from Rockwills whether I could carry one as a franchise holder of their business, seeing how deeply I already understood their business model. I was advised to contact their area licencing representative in Penang and he arranged for me to attend an intensive training (which to me was more of a refresher course) in which I emerged with the highest scores among the trainees.
Here I am today, a professional Estate Planner who is still a great believer of what Rockwills stands for and holding on to an even greater conviction that people of all walks of life need a professional estate planning advisor to help plan their wealth distribution.