It is the glass-half-full attitude that is the crux of Aviva-owned Professional Investment Advisory Services (PIAS). This assertiveness in identifying and seizing opportunities has helped the business balloon, expanding by 25% over the course of one year to become a 400-strong troop of independent financial advisers.
The man at the forefront of this growth is Christopher Teo, who was previously chief executive of Aviva’s joint-venture life insurance business in Vietnam. Now he has clear plans to grow the business by a further 25% during the next 12 months – a huge task considering he has only been at the helm for a year.
The spate of regulatory changes emerging out of Singapore is certainly keeping Teo on his toes as he works to ensure everything is in place for the new rules, set to be rubberstamped and introduced by the Singapore Government in January 2016.
This all means balancing work and home life is not easy, Teo admits, but that is not to say his family takes a backseat, as he cherishes time spent with his children.
“Regulatory changes are like changing a car tyre while the car is still moving"
Indeed, for Teo, PIAS and parent company Aviva, time seems to be of the essence, and he explains how Aviva snapped up the opportunity to take over the business in 2013 – a move he believes has done no end of good for both companies.
“As one of the few institutionally owned advisory firms in town, we are fortunate we can take advantage of Aviva’s competency in risk management and compliance,” he says.
Originally, PIAS in Singapore had been a subsidiary of the Australian firm of the same name, and Teo says one the post-acquisition intentions after Aviva acquired the business was to take the firm to the next level.
“We like to believe we have a good brand name and reputation in town,” he says.
“Building trust and relationships with an adviser will lead to a good reputation, which is one of the most important aspects of this business.
“Also, if you have a good brand franchise, it will help attract better qualified advisers to join us.”
Teo says it is easier for experienced professionals to understand the rationale behind regulatory requirements that come into play, and to capitalise by adjusting themselves to such changes instead of remaining in the “denial stage”.
But he also believes regulatory changes actually help firms such as PIAS differentiate themselves from the smaller players as they are infrastructually better equipped and have the necessary resources to invest the right way.
“Regulatory changes are like changing a car tyre while the car is still moving,” says Teo. “We need to look into the tactical changes that have to be adhered to but, ultimately, we want to come out from the changes ahead of the learning curve.
“If we are able to embrace these changes on a positive note, and are ahead of the curve compared to our competitors, we will win over more advisers and attract more clients in the process as their confidence in us will surely grow.”
Intertwined in this customer con-fidence is the adviser’s self-assurance in the business, and, according to Teo, it is important for IFAs to receive good quality business support, giving them peace of mind when providing a holistic service to their customers.