It may be depressing to start off with this but it is important to start thinking of ways to invest your money wisely as well as to seek protection from illnesses when you reach a certain age
Prior to this, I myself have been reading books on investment and insurance, trying to educate myself. I have also bought savings policies and dabbled with platforms like POEMS.
However, one must always be on the search for information and new knowledge. It is with this interest that I went for two talks recently, Tan Kin Lian’s FISCA “Consumer Guide to Insurance” on August 25. It was a 3 hour seminar and I paid $30 for it as I am not a member.
I also went for Adam Khoo Learning Technologies Group’s (AKTLG) “Wealth Expo” on 1st September. I paid $24 for a 2 day expo, Gold seats paid $100 while Platinum paid $250. On the website, General tickets sold for $60, hence I thought I was getting a great deal. A friend told me they were selling gold tickets at $20 on a group-buy website.
On the surface, it would seem that the Wealth Expo would be more value for money, but sadly I was wrong. The two talks were different as heaven and hell, and I will share about TKL’s talk first.
TKL talk was held in a small SMU lecture room with about 20 people. There was no fluff, it went straight to the point regarding the different types of insurance (life, term, car, home, death etc), the ideal types to buy, rationale for doing so and it ended with a simple book promotion. The books were also not very expensive, $8 for a book. After that, there was an open Q&A where we got to pick his brain.
Most importantly, you could tell he was sincere in sharing whatever he knew and honestly felt. For example, he has an almost zen-like approach to cancer and death, which I paraphrase “When you are above 80, and it is time to die, no amount of medical care can cure you. It doesn’t matter if you are in Ward B2 or in a private hospital. Say your last goodbyes and leave your children with a fortune, instead of wiping out their savings.”
Wealth Expo started with so much promise, so much hype. But here is what truly happened.
The event started with everyone entering the expo hall with uplifting soundtracks, moving spotlights and dry ice smoke. I commented that it seemed I stepped into an evangelical church instead of a place to learn about finance. Next, there was an introductory video, with similar exciting soundtracks accompanying information about the Wealth Expo. The speakers came in the order of Adam Khoo, Joey Yap, Ron Kaufman, Conrad Lim and Fabian Lim. I left midway through Fabian’s talk, I just couldn’t take their fluff anymore.
Let me share a bit about each speaker, and what I thought about them.
He started off with his motivational speak about congratulating us for spending a weekend here so he knows we are the type of people who are eager to learn. For those who do not know, this is known as framing your audience. By making them think better of themselves, they will think of themselves in the same frame and will be willing to spend money to show they are “eager to learn”.
Next he brought up slides which showed that Singapore is the richest country in the world, with one in 6 households being millionaires ergo, it is easy to become a millionaire in Singapore. He also mentioned we have 3 times as much millionaires as a percentage of populations than the United States of America. He conveniently forgets to mention that USA, being such a big country has rural farmlands and big cities, and compared to the cities, Singapore is far from Switzerland (Geneva) or USA (New York). All these are attempts at trying to make something tough sound much easier than it is, in hope you will part with more money to learn more of his “tricks”.
He also rambled on a bit about trying to become financially free with FD being impossible (using 2% as interest rate) but extremely easy when you are able to trade on a 22% annual return rate. At this point, alarm bells should start ringing, even the best fund managers in the world cannot promise this rate of return, and he can? I promise you, as a fund manager with this type of performance, he will earn much more than as a teacher, so why don’t he?
Some of the primary school tricks is making the audience stand up, high five their partners, and completing his obvious sentences in agreement. I seriously hope the mostly adult audiences are more mature than this and are doing it because…. everyone else is doing it.
The only drop of knowledge he provides is how to conduct TA based on 150 and 50 day moving averages. Anyone who has picked up a FM book would have known this. But this too is a facade, to ask you sign up for his class to learn more advance techniques, because he describes it as a kindergarten technique. I agree, because it really is. He also seizes on this chance to promote an online trading platform.
Finally, after his talk, he ended off with a sales pitch for his CD which includes functions like expense tracker, tax calculator etc, for a limited time only sale! Many people ran to the booth at the side to make a purchase. Seems like most of them do not realize all these tools are available for free on most finance websites like mint.com .
He shared a bit about the using BaZi to decode your destiny. He provides a website which would churn out your BaZi using your relevant details.
Like all the other speakers, there are very few concrete details and he skims past likely on the details. If it was for the lack of time, why pack the speakers time so tightly? I am sure the audience would prefer, for example, the removal of Ron Kaufman to listen to more details from Joey.
He ended with a promotion of his book, and also his multi day seminar, which would cost a seminar only special of $1700! Wow, what a good deal. Only in my head I am thinking that if I spent $1000 to buy all the English and Chinese books on Chinese astrology, I would learn more than he could ever teach, and I would still be left with $700 spare change! Wow!
A book by Lilian Too that I read 5 years ago was so much more informational than that hour I wasted. A reader (Luke) has suggested this website: http://www.123cha.com/sm/ and I find it informative. A pity it is purely in Mandarin, but it is definitely more comprehensive than the talk, plus it is free.
I heard him previously when he came to do a talk at Alexandra Hospital. His call to fame is his book on service quality. It was really applicable to workers at a hospital, but seriously, at a wealth talk?
His talk was weakly linked to the concept of wealth, so badly constructed was his talk such that I will not bother to reproduce it here. The concept of linking business success to service quality is nothing new, so I am not too sure why he has to highlight it incessantly.
Also, it was extremely unprofessional to constantly shout in the microphone, I was wearing earphones or plugging my ears throughout the entire talk.
I highly suspect, and this is my suspicion and not an assertion of truth, that he was there purely to sell his services, which includes a 1-to-1 coaching and group coaching. He also has a nice booth behind with many balloons. It costs around $800 for a 1-to-1 coaching.
He is supposedly a known trader who is capable of multiple styles. Was looking forward to his talk but he decided to give a talk on the history of money, the Federal Reserve being as Federal as Federal Express (super old joke by the way) and ended off with fear mongering about the future of the money markets.
Also ended off with a spiel about how the cost of to attend his classes is always rising, and those who didn’t sign up previously have regrets so it is better to sign up for a class now at a seminar only price of $5000! Perceptual contrast! It works! Wow! (Maybe it is more, my brain shut off at this point in time.)
To be fair to Fabian, when his turn to speak came, I was already extremely disgruntled. The talk started by broadcasting a RazorTV video of him flying his own recreational plane to “have lunch in Malacca”. He is supposedly an internet marketing expert, how is this related? Plus the fact that time is such a limited commodity in this series of lectures, I would expect them to teach as much information as they could.
Alas, it seems their aim is not to share knowledge, but to impress upon us how rich and successful they are and if we pay for their courses and learn from these great holy masters, we will emulate their success.
At this point, enough is enough, I left the expo with my friends.
Needless to say, I will not be going back to the talk tomorrow. It is a complete, I repeat, complete waste of time.
Previously, during an intermission break I walked to the “gold” section seats and talked to 5 random groups of people. None paid for their tickets and they received theirs either through organizations or email lists. They too felt the talk was in their words, “like shit”. In. their. own. words. Also, if the majority did not buy their “Gold” tickets, or bought it cheaply from groupbuy websites, does it not make it seem like they are trying to make the seminar more expensive than it actually is?
From this, we can tell that most people did not pay for their tickets, or got it cheaply. We can then question their motivations for offering their tickets at such a rock bottom price. If they really saw the value of their talk, would they be offering it at such prices? Towards the day of the seminar, my mum received an email offering free tickets from NTUC, and my friend got offered free tickets from JobsCentral.
Perhaps their intention is not to let any seat go to waste, if a seat can’t be sold, at least a filled seat becomes a prospect right?
Let’s revisit the Wealth Expo’s selling points:
- Where and how to invest your money in 2012 and beyond for maximum profit returns
- Unlock your hidden talents you never knew existed and realize your path of least resistance to financial success, health and relationships
- Protect your portfolio from the global economical uncertainties and turn the European debt crisis into your advantage!
- How to increase your business profits by keeping your customers happy and coming back for more
- How ordinary people generate passive income starting with little or no money in less than 9 days
- Secrets of the rich that you will not find anywhere else
- How to plan, design and create a roadmap to financial success to achieve the lifestyle you always desired
- How to spot great property investment opportunities
Was it an oversell? Undoubtedly. Perhaps I was overqualified? In that case, why keep highlighting the fact if we want to learn more, we have to pay and pay? At this point, I really felt like a mindless cow being led into an abattoir.
But if you went there without a shred of financial knowledge, you will definitely benefit. But you will also become a sitting duck for them with their sales pitches. Naysayers will say there is nothing that they do to force you to buy any product, or sign up for their courses.
They are being naive. The entire spectacle is set up to make you purchase today using your instincts and emotions, limited price offers, limited seats, ringers who seem to run towards when the booths open etc. They trigger the need to act when there is uncertainty. This delves into topics of persuasion, so I will not go into detail here.
By the contents of the www.wealthexpo.com.sg website, the talk was supposed “to educate the public on financial literacy and empower like-minded individuals with the financial know-how to make better informed decisions to thrive beyond this economical uncertainty.” The only thing I knew was happening more than 90% of the time was, if we wanted to be educated, we need to part with several thousands of dollars to attend their future seminars.
It is important to note that both insurance purchase and investment planning are equally difficult. A wrong decision can set you back by at least $500k if you are not careful. TKL can easily edit his talk to become a 2 day seminar, where he delves into the history of insurance, different types of plans etc and charge a cool $3000 for it. But… he doesn’t. You can tell when someone wants to teach you something, or simply wants to earn your money. The key is sincerity, and whether you can discern it from a smooth talker.
I am also a budding businessman. I run my own online store, conduct personal training on weekends and have ran other businesses previously. I understand the importance of a fair exchange of value. I won’t go as far to call them a “scam”, but this doesn’t seem to be a fair exchange at all.
I may never be as “successful” as any of the speakers, but at least in whatever I do, my conscience will be clear. Or at the very least, I will call my expo the “Upsell to Wealth Expo”, not “Wealth Expo”.
As an ending note, just sign up to be a FISCA member and attend TKL’s talks, at least they seem to be doing really good work for now. No fluff nor upsell, straight to the point.
Post-Edit: AKLTG has offered to refund me my tickets in return for me taking down my content. I appreciate the offer but I refused categorically. It was an experience that I learned and feel has negatively impacted my impression of Adam Khoo and his associates. I had 3 friends with me in different age ranges: one is 25, I am 24, another two of them are 20, one being in university year 2 and the other in national service.
All of us felt there was so little knowledge sharing done. And we are all “young” people.
I feel it is in the public interest to understand what happened exactly at the Wealth Expo. The first day was simply not worth the time and all the speakers’ agenda was more to sell, than to share knowledge. In this case, I would rather sacrifice a little and let more people know about it than to get back my money. There is no way the refund can recover my lost of time and parking.