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What it takes to succeed as an insurance/property agent

If you think I am going to say that you need to be hungry and determined and all those characteristics that everybody says, then you are WRONG. There really is a difference in those that succeed in the field and those that do not. And even though being hungry and determined plays a part it is a by product of something else. To make this as fair as possible I have talked to agents that I have seen started from the bottom and agents that have already a sizeable team under them. The end goal is always to have a team running the sales and you collecting the overriding commissions.

Difference between insurance agent & property agent

I place this as the first paragraph so that after reading this you will have a better understanding of which side are you leaning towards, by the time you reach the conclusion you have the best picture to make a decision. Starting with the insurance industry, the minimum qualification is to have diploma/ A level before you can start taking the exams to qualify as a financial adviser. Property agents on the other hand have a slightly lower barrier of entry. Minimum requirement is 4 GCE “O” Levels passes. They will then have to pass the RES examination which is made up of 2 papers, the examination is not easy and failure is not uncommon.

Insurance Agents

Insurance agents in their early days usually will take up a “Basic Allowance” which acts like our basic salary. However, the allowance will only be released when the relevant targets are met. The normal range for allowances is between $2500 and $5000 and this money is not subjected to CPF contribution because you are considered self-employed. Many potential candidates are careless when they see “monthly allowance” and assume that they will receive that amount at the end of the month no matter what. On the bright side the requirement for of a diploma/A levels are a benefit to the industry. There are lesser people with diplomas compared to those with O levels. We have close to 20,000 insurance agents in Singapore compared to 30,000 property agents.

Property Agents

Do not be disheartened. Even though there is no basic allowance, and the barrier of entry is low it might actually work in you favor. The monthly commission from insurance agents ranges from few hundreds to dew thousands as they sell policies that are lower priced compared to properties. Look in your circle of friends you will see property agents posting IG stories of them receiving awards for a 5-figure month or even a 6-figure month. That is only achievable because property are large ticket items and 1%-5% commission on sale price is going to be easily 5-figure. However, deals are not going to happen overnight and require multiple phases.

Do you want to be here?

I have talked to countless agents be it insurance or property. I used to meet them at car gatherings. From Audi to Porsche meetups there will definitely be at least one insurance/property agent. Some of them might be there to network or truly just love cars. Either way I have filtered those that use rental cars to come to events as they will probably come a few times and if they find no prospects here, they will leave. A good example is Alex (not his real name) who is a director and has close to 60/70 insurance agents under him you will look at him and think this guy look like an ah beng! Confirm do pian one that is why can drive R8. But he has single digit O level results and went on to NTU and did well enough to be offered an investment banking job before even getting his results. He sat in for a recruitment drive and decided he wanted to be an insurance agent. Point here is are you only looking at these jobs because you are desperate? Have you failed in multiple interviews and feel this is the only options? Many just have the mindset I still young no harm trying, see other people like very huat. If you are only considering these industries because it is your last hope and hope to have a lucky break, I can assure you failure. The people that truly make it are people that raise their hands and say I want to do this, and they hone their craft endlessly because that is what you naturally do when you do something you like.

Get rich quick?

Unless you have relatives that are super rich and willing to buy whatever you throw at them and influence their rich friends to follow suit, then give up the thought of sitting back and just living off the overriding commissions your team earns you. Nobody is going to point at you and say I only want him/her to serve me. Those scenarios only happen in dramas. The usual sales cycle starts with you introducing yourself and slowly understanding your client before you offer your advice and the product that you believe is best suited. Even after that its not over people start by buying something of a lower value to see if you are trustworthy and if you keep up your end of the deal. If you are going to sell a policy and when the client needs you, you are nowhere to be found. Renewal or another pitch is not going to happen. Alex once shared with me that he sold a lady a policy that no agents bothered selling due to the low commissions. For the next 6 months the lady constantly called him asking him question after question and bought nothing else. Everybody would be frustrated and just reply whenever you have the time. However, Alex took the time and went through everything that she had queries on even meeting the lady for coffee (Alex paid). After a year she just decided to buy a savings plan that netted Alex $20,000 in commissions. Moral of the story you must put in the groundwork and stay grounded.

Invest In Yourself

Having some money in the bank is important. You might not get a paycheck for the first few months. Treating this as a business is important. Building an image and marketing cost money. Many start of in the industry by tackling your closest friends and relatives as that is the easiest and most cost effective route. However, we all know majority of your friends and relatives start to shun you. Sad truth is many of our friends and relatives do not want you to do better than them. Strangers on the other hand are the ones that will help you grow your income. To reach them you will have to spend money either on marketing material or social media advertisement. The first commission will usually be credited only after a couple of months so set aside some money to invest in yourself.


Aside from hunger and determination you must first ask yourself if this industry is the one that you want to be in. You have that desire to want to serve people or financial / property investment is something that you are always interested in. People can smell bullshit from Tuas. When you go for interviews with your potential manager make sure he/she is invested in your success and that you all genuinely click. To many hiring managers out their interview is just a formality. You are a number game to them if you make it, they are happy. If you do not make it, they do not lose anything because they can just focus on the next person or try hiring another agent. Find someone that you feel the conversation really makes your feel comfortable and you can sense the person genuinely wants to work with you. One tip which I have observed over the years is that many hiring managers like to name their job posting as financial broker or investment trainee/executive. They want to get you to the interview and try to convince you to join their team. If their motive in the beginning is to mislead people the decision to join them or not is clear. Whichever side you choose make sure you put serious thought to it as you cannot switch between insurance and property as and when you please. There is usually a conflict of interest and in your contract, you might not be able to switch to either industries within 2 years of leaving.

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