Saturday, July 25, 2015

Useful links to my web pages

Useful links for my web pages.

To buy my books

Amazing Number
(You save $3 on waiver of handling fee during the promotion period).

Supplementary Retirement Scheme

Medical Bills for the Elderly

Financial Planning for Young People

Financial Projection (free)

Complacency and elitism in the top ranks of civil service

I agree with the observation by MP Inderjit Singh. The full article can be read here.
Complacency and elitism in top ranks of civil service
Singh also spoke out against the complacency and elitism he “detected” in the top ranks of civil servants. He said, "today’s policy makers live in a different society from the average Singaporean”.
The MP said that during his Meet-the-People sessions, he had encountered a number of residents who questioned the rationale of government policies.
He urged the government to consider reorganizing the policy making process, to “reverse it to make it more bottom-up and driven by the man in the street” instead of the top-down approach of policies crafted by those seated in “an ideal clean and sterile policy lab or an ivory tower”.
Singh had observed that the civil service’s top ranks are populated by scholars chosen for their academic achievements. He expressed concern that these scholars, who are “parachuted” to high positions at a young age, may not have the experience or understanding to craft policies for the rest of the population.
Singh supported a different approach to talent management in the public service, saying that “we need the best people for the respective jobs not necessarily the best academically qualified for all the jobs.”
Since it was published on Monday evening, Singh’s post has been shared over 400 times on Facebook, garnering over 400 likes. Comments thus far have been positive, applauding Singh for his insights and thanking him for speaking out. The CEO of a Singapore home appliances and electronics company, Singh has been an MP for 18 years.

SG50 Guaranteed Saver Policy

Here is my analysis of the SG50 Guaranteed Saver Policy from Great Eastern Life.
It is okay, but there are catches!

Listen to customer feedback

Mr. Tan
You have posted several feedback from customers on service organization in Singapore.
When you were in charge of NTUC, did you listen to the feedback from your customers?

I listen to them all the time. They usually wrote to me by e-mail. Most of the improvements to service quality came from feedback from customers, agents and staffs. They are affected by the current processes every day, and they knew what was good and what was bad.
If the top management of service organizations pay attention to these feedback, they will set a culture that go down the different levels. Their managers and staff will be positive in responding to customer feedback.

Improve SMS queuing system

A customer has given this feedback to Sing Tel on how to improve the SMS queuing system.

"The only thing I can think of improving is the SMS queue alert ... make it more accurate based on historical data of interactions, so that when I'm told there are 2 people ahead of me in the queue, and 10 min waiting, I know it's reasonably accurate. As the system stands now, I got the alert at the same time my number was called, and there's a possibility of me missing my queue slot."

The feedback on several service organization  can be viewed here:

Improve service quality in Singapore - you can play a part

\Who are the top 5 service organizations in Singapore based on customer feedback?

The answer can be found here:

Here are the 10 most recent feedback. The stories make interesting reading:

We need more people to give feedback, so that the results become more reliable.

You can give your feedback here and win a prize as well.

Friday, July 24, 2015

How to improve service quality - with some simple thinking

A customer give this negative feedback about OCBC Bank.

"Hotline stating CPF investment number but when dial, it brings all options including credit cards and many useless service."

If the bank advertises a hotline number for a service, they should expect to receive a few hundred calls. Why put the customer through the frustration of going through many irrelevant options? It is simple to provide a mini-call center, with a specific advertised number, for each marketing campaign. The customer will be answered immediately.

This will improve service quality and marketing results. We only need to do some simple thinking!

Criticism has to be within constraint

PM Lee said that the government welcomed criticism within Singapore but they have to be within constraint. He quoted the case of Roy Ngerng and Amos Yee.

Read this article

I agree with his view. His government had been quite tolerant, in general, over criticisms expressed in the social media.

But for the two cases, the government had over-reacted. There was no need to sue Roy Ngerng. Having sued him, he should have accepted the offer of compensation of $5,000 which represented more than one month's salary for Roy Ngerng.

There was also no need to charge Amos Yee for causing religious unhappines, which never existed.

In spite of these to bad cases, his government had been quite tolerant of online criticism.

Three key challenges facing Singapore

PM Lee has identified the three key challenges facing Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Enhancing the economy, the ageing population and maintaining a national identity are the three biggest challenges that Singapore faces over the next half-century, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

I agree with his assessment.

What he did not say is that the policies that he had implemented over the past three decades were responsible for the last two challenges facing the country.

He should recognize them immediately and reverse them. If they are not reversed, the challenges will become worse.

Read this article

Reasons to introduce a minimum wage in Singapore

Mr. Tan
I have read your previous articles about a minimum wage. You have given several reasons why a minimum wage is necessary but they tend to be economic arguments.

Are you able to write a more complete presentation to argue the case for a minimum wage? This is important for many people who are caught in the low wage trap, having to compete with foreigners.

I am above 50, and now face this situation.

It is important for many people to know why many countries implement a minimum wage, and Singapore still avoids it.

Although many young workers are not affected by low wage now, they may face it in the future. Their parents are probably facing the issue.

We should understand the issue and give our voice in support of a minimum wage.

You asked me to write a longer "presentation". I cannot find the time to do it, but I like to recommend you to this PDF book, which cost only $2. It takes only half an hour to read. It will help you to understand the issue better.

Yunnan Hair Treatment

I went to my regular barber in Bishan North. I had been frequently the shop for two years.

I was served by a young man for the first time. He was quite talkative. He asked if I was a regular customer. I replied "yes".

While cutting my hair, he said that I had been using a cream that made my hair oily. It is causing the hair to drop. I should take care of my hair. He asked for the type of shampoo that I was using and told me to avoid certain types. He advised me to take a treatment to protect  my hair.

I knew that he was telling lies or just engaging in "sales talk". I had not been using any hair oil for the past week. My hair is in quite good condition for my age, compared to many people who are almost bald.

Out of politeness, I asked him to tell me what is the treatment and how much does it cost, and how long does it take. The package comprises of 8 treatments cost a total of $600. It can be taken over 4 to 6 months.

He showed me a folder with some printed pages to show the different types of packages and explain their benefit. They use a special product from Yunnan that was found to be very successful.

Although he had completed my hair cut, he did not remove the covering. He kept me in a "captive" position to listen to his sales talk. He showed me the photos of a customer who had a successful treatment.

I politely removed the covering myself, thanked him, paid the haircut fee and leave the shop. This will be the last time that I am visit this barber shop.

I avoid this type of sales technique - which usually comprise of vague and verbal promises of what are the benefits of the product. The price is usually non-transparent and greatly over-priced.

This is how many insurance agents sell their bad life insurance policies. It is also how the spas sell their packages. There is usually a purported discount over an over-priced treatment.

Consumers should learn to identify all types of sales that are made in this manner and learn how to avoid them.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

DBS is at the top

DBS/POSB is at the top of the scoreboard for service organizations in Singapore.
Among the insurers, NTUC Income now beats AIA.
View details here:

Here are the recent responses of specific organizations

Win a book prize

Register here, sign in and click on [Participate] to give 5 feedback to win a book prize.
Terms and conditions are here:

Additional Bonus: you can view the detailed rankings of the service organizations after submitting 5 feedback.

Amazing Numbers is now available in Pearl Shop

The popular Amazing Numbers is now available in Pearl Shop.
You can buy it during the promotion period and save on the delivery fee of $3.
You get 4 sets of cards to give to four children to amaze their friends.
They can guess the secret number (from 1 to 99) by showing the 7 cards. The technique is explained in a separate card.
This amazing puzzle always amazes every one. That is why it is called "Amazing Numbers".

Train the mind in problem solving

These two books involving arranging of pieces to form shapes are good for training the mind in problem solving.

They can be purchased from
Additional plastic pieces can also be bought to give fun to members of the family and to organize a home competition.

Annual Performance Appraisal - my approach

Here are two articles about two large multi-national companies that implemented a new way of carrying out their annual performance appraisal.

This article reports that Accenture is changing its traditional approach as it takes too much time to train the managers and supervisors on the system and to carry out the exercise each year. Furthermore, the outcome has been unsatisfactory.

This article reports that Deloitte is now asking only four simple questions in their performance appraisal.

When I was running a large insurance company, I also found the traditional approach to be time consuming and counter productive.

I adopted a simplified performance appraisal system involving a few simple questions. The approach is similar to what was done by Deloitte.

I did not rank all the employees according to the performance scale, as it was too controversial and those who ranked poorly felt demoralized. They also felt that the performance appraisal system was flawed.

Instead, I used the results to identify the top 25% to be considered for a performance bonus. It was used as a motivating factor, without the harmful effort of being demoralizing. It provided an incentive for employees to perform well. Even so, the people picked to be the top 25% tend to be the same group of people over the years. The other employees also felt that the appraisal was unfair and that the managers tend to give higher scores to their favorites.

On balance, we still need a simple performance system. It may not be a perfect system, but it probably provided more good than harm, if it was adopted correctly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Financial Planning for Young People

This is the most popular book in my internet shop.
Financial Planning for Young People

Do not miss this boat

40 people have won the book prize for submitting 5 feedback on the service organizations in Singapore. 60 more to do. But they are being taken up very fast.

Act now, if you do not want to miss the boat!

Four questions used by Delilotte to evalute ites employees

Everyone loves to hate performance evaluations, and with good reason:Research has shown them to be ineffective, unreliable and unsatisfactory for seemingly everyone involved. They consume way too much time, leave most workers deflated and feel increasingly out of step with reality. A once-a-year, backwards-looking conversation with the boss hardly fits our forward-looking, instantly updated world. Yet despite all that frustration, many companies do little to change them, thinking there are few alternatives.

That hasn't been the case at Deloitte. The new issue of the Harvard Business Review, released Tuesday, unveils a detailed look at the professional services firm's total redesign of its performance management program. It's an overhaul the company first started rolling out nine months ago.

Read this article

As a result, Deloitte wanted to do two main things to simplify the process. It sought to stop asking so many people to weigh in on each employee's performance, instead asking only the team leader for input. Then, it rewrote the evaluation questions, nixing the standard assessment of a person's skills (or "competencies," in corporate parlance).

Now, at the end of every project, or once a quarter if employees have long-term assignments, managers would answer four simple questions — and only four. The first two are answered on a five-point scale, from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree;" the second two have yes or no options:

1. Given what I know of this person’s performance, and if it were my money, I would award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus.

2. Given what I know of this person’s performance, I would always want him or her on my team.

3. This person is at risk for low performance.

4. This person is ready for promotion today.

That's it.

The HBR report says Deloitte hasn't resolved how it will share the data with employees.

Accenture will get rid of annual performance ranking

As of September, one of the largest companies in the world will do all of its employees and managers an enormous favor: It will get rid of the annual performance review.

Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme told The Washington Post that the professional services firm, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers in cities around the globe, has been quietly preparing for this “massive revolution” in its internal operations.

“Imagine, for a company of 330,000 people, changing the performance management process—it’s huge,” Nanterme said. “We’re going to get rid of probably 90 percent of what we did in the past.”

The firm will disband rankings and the once-a-year evaluation process starting in fiscal year 2016, which for Accenture begins this September. It will implement a more fluid system, in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following assignments.

Read this article

My comment:

This is an interesting development. The annual performance ranking, which was supposed to be a "must have" tool in managing people, has now been found to be counter productive. I have observed this phenomena many years ago.

Feedback on service quality

Read the most recent feedback of service organizations in Singapore here.

Scoreboard of service quality

Here is the scoreboard of service organizations in Singapore. Guess which organization comes out at the top? It was a surprise to me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Give your feedback

I need your help to make this website successful and useful for consumers.

Can you register and sign in to give your feedback on 5 service organizations in Singapore - those that you are familiar with.

This will help to give a proper rating and will be beneficial to all consumers. The service organizations can also get the feedback to improve their processes and staff training.

You will also get a book prize -Practical Guide on Financial Planning after completing 5 feedback. (available to the first 100 users).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Most expensive city in the world

This article explains why Singapore is the most expensive city in the world.

Here is the ranking of the top 10.

World Cost of Living Index: 130

Paris, France.
World Cost of Living Index: 129

Oslo, Norway.
World Cost of Living Index: 128

Zurich, Switzerland.
World Cost of Living Index: 125

Sydney, Australia.
World Cost of Living Index: 120

Caracas, Venezuela.
World Cost of Living Index: 118 (tie)

Geneva, Switzerland.
World Cost of Living Index: 118 (tie)

Melbourne, Australia
World Cost of Living Index: 118 (tie)

Tokyo, Japan.
World Cost of Living Index: 118 (tie)

Copenhagen, Denmark.
World Cost of Living Index: 117

Real harm of a sharp market decline

The stock market in China rocketed up 140 percent from July 2014 to July 2015. So a 30 percent drop is a big, but not unexpected, correction.
So, what is the net result? Has the stock market grown from July 2014 to now, after the correction, and by how much?
If the stock market has shown a net gain, what is the real problem? There is actually a big problem that is not disclosed by this so called "net gain". Can you explain this problem?
If the market went up 150% and dropped 30%, there is still a net gain of 75% for someone who had been invested at the start. So, this investor is still sitting on a comfortable gain.
Unfortunately, most of the investors jumped in towards the peak and suffered a large part of the drop. They can see their investment dropped by up to 30%. Worse, if they had invested on 2 time leverage, their loss could be almost 100% of their original invested sum.
This is the real harm of a market decline.

Pulse of the Customer

How is the ranking of the service organizations in Singapore?
This scoreboard shows you the ranking for overall, call center, website, branch, head office and outdoor activities.

What are the recent feedback provided by the customers?
You can read the 10 most recent feedback on "what have they done well", "what have they done poorly" and "any suggestion for improvement" here.

Retrenched PMETs can be consultants

Retrenched PMET finds it difficult to get another job in the same line, even though they are willing to take a cut in salary.
They should try to be listed here:
They should also list their experience and services in other websites - the more, the better.

Portal of benefits available to senior citizens

The government has created a website showing the offers available to senior citizens. This is a good initiative. I commend them for their good work.…/dam/moh_web/sg50-seniors/index.html

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Is the Vivo Child a good policy to save for the university education?

Dear Mr. Tan

The Income agent keep asking me to take up endowment fund for my kid of 16 month so as to pay for university course for my kid in the future , should  I take it up ? Do you have any advice or book to read on the topic ?


My analysis of this policy is set out in the PDF below. Read it.

Auditor General's report on Lapses in the Peoples' Association

Kenneth Jeyaretnam explains that the Auditor General's report covers only the minor lapses found in the money spent by the Peoples' Association. There are much bigger issues that are not covered in the report.
The poor financial discipline and lack of accountability of the Finance Minister and the PAP Government are appalling.

Blog Archive