Today, Kelly Ong is one of the top financial advisers in the world. Not only does she rank among the top 1% of financial advisers worldwide, she is also the youngest agency leader in Great Eastern (Singapore) to have ever achieved a Top of the Table (TOT) qualification, the highest level of recognition and membership for Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT)’s top performers and the epitome of achievement in the industry.
Today, I had a chat with Kelly to discuss the origin of her success story, and how she manages to thrive in a highly competitive market, while still being able to manage her team well and spend quality time with her loved ones.
Qn: Hi Kelly, thank you so much for joining me today. Today you are one of the best in the financial services industry. Has life always been so smooth sailing? How was life growing up?
Ans: Thank you for having me today. The life I have today was forged through years of ups and downs, perseverance, and opportunities presented by my bosses and team. In fact, when I was younger, I had to work multiple jobs to supplement my family’s income. There was enough food on the table, but we had to work hard to afford anything else we wanted. I remember working as a model, a server at an ice cream cafe, and a personal assistant at a few firms. But no matter how hard I worked, I didn't feel like I could achieve the success and breakthroughs I craved. That's when I decided to take the leap of faith and join the financial services industry. And the rest, like they say, is history.
Qn: You’ve qualified for a TOT in 2021. Tell me more about this achievement, and how did you accomplish it?
Ans: TOT is an award given to the Top 1% of Financial Advisers globally who have met the 6-time MDRT requirement. Naturally, all these wouldn't have been possible without the trust and support from all of my great clients. A lot of them eventually became my friends. Some of them are such close friends that they even sought my opinions when they were buying and furnishing their house. That's why I’m passionate about my job, because we get to build real friendships while I ensure they get the best possible financial planning. I really love it!
Qn: You said that you have a lot of great clients. Who are they?
Ans: Many of my clientele are business owners and high net worth individuals. They usually approach me for complete financial planning and protection, such as legacy and estate planning, and advice for planning their will. Apart from word of mouth referrals from my own clients, I receive direct messages on my social media accounts, such as LinkedIn, where people can easily find me at "kellyonghq".
Qn: What are some lessons you’ve learnt in the financial services industry that are applicable in day to day life?
Ans: Firstly, hold yourself to the highest standards. This means always doing your best in any task that you’re given, no matter if it’s an important project or a minor routine task. How you do something is how you’ll do everything, and building the habit of always giving 101% will condition you to always strive for excellence.
Secondly, learn how to grab opportunities. Confidence helps you embrace the opportunities that show up in your life instead of backing away from them. You can build up your confidence by improving your knowledge and sharpening your skill set—with competence comes confidence.
Lastly, learn to put others before ourselves. It’s important to always be of service to others. Putting the needs of others before our own allows us to think of the greater good, and improves our relationships with others, which is invaluable. Although, of course, it’s necessary to set clear boundaries for ourselves to prevent burning out and other negative consequences.
Qn: You are a mother, a leader, a daughter, and a wife. How do you manage your career and your life at the same time?
Ans: I draw clear lines to distinguish between spending time with my loved ones and working. Over the years, I’ve learned the value of prioritising what’s important and saying “no” to things. Whether I’m at work or with my family, I make sure to always be fully present and do my very best, because that’s what my teammates, clients, and loved ones deserve. By always giving my all, I rarely carry any emotional baggage, and I always remember to be thankful and appreciative of my experiences, as well as everyone I get to spend time with.
Qn: I heard you recently wrote a book. Can you share with us more about it?
Ans: It's called Big Deals, a book where seven veterans of the financial services industry come together to share their experience and knowledge on how to deliver value, help people, and close big deals at the same time. We want to share our wisdom with anyone looking to 10X their career. Many people tend to make the mistake of focusing on one-off transactions—essentially going for quantity over quality. In reality, one has to be invested, authentic, transparent, and most importantly, patient to nurture long-term relationships with their prospects and clients.
Qn: Finally, what's next for you?
Ans: Over the years, my setbacks and achievements, and the benefits of becoming a Financial Adviser have reaffirmed my decision. As a daughter, wife and mum who focuses on my child's social development and emotional wellbeing, I take pride in spending lots of quality time with my daughter without having to sacrifice my personal goals and career aspirations. My goal now is to recreate more of my success, to help more families achieve financial security for their loved ones, and help more people understand how a career in the financial services industry can help them achieve the success and fulfillment they deserve, while still having time to enjoy their hobbies and accompany their loved ones.