EP 175 – Cherie Wang – co-Founder Planner Bee – Doing Sales Digitally Is So Different


Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 170 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Cherie Wang

Cherie Wang is the CEO & co-founder of Planner Bee, a mobile personal financial tool built specifically for Asian insurance buyers. She founded Planner Bee to put a mobile financial advisor in everyone's pocket. Her experience managing over a thousand clients has guided the design of Planner Bee’s approach to holistic financial planning. A Chartered Financial Consultant with 13 years of experience, Cherie ranks in the top 5% of financial advisors globally in the last 12 years. She is passionate about raising financial literacy, and empowering users to reach their money goals and was recognised in the SCS and IMDA's list of Top 100 SG Women In Tech for 2021.

The Asia InsurTech Podcast spoke with Cherie Wang, the co-founder of Planner Bee, about the changes we are seeing in distribution in general and why the insurance industry has been lagging behind this new movement.

Listen to our other epside with Cherie here.

Find the transcript of our conversation below.

Michael Waitze 0:03
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia InsurTech. I love the look on your face. You’re thinking, Am I close enough to the microphone? Today we are joined by Cherie Wang. I got it right this time. Remember the first time? I got it wrong? Did you? I think I had the hard ch. I didn’t ask you Sure. People do this. Right.

Cherie Wang 0:23
Yeah, I respond from anything from Cherry to Cheryl. So it’s fine.

Michael Waitze 0:27
Cheryl, I would never get this no l there, right?

Cherie Wang 0:29
My teachers were not reading my name right for like 20 years.

Michael Waitze 0:34
That’s gonna be really frustrating.

Cherie Wang 0:35
Yeah, so I respond to anything from a spectrum of that

Michael Waitze 0:38
I want so I always say like, people always say to me, like because I’ve lived outside the United States for most of my life, right? So Michael is hard to pronounce because of the way the AE is. And like the L at the end in some Asian languages is not pronounced. Okay. Yeah. So like in Thai, a trailing l even in Thai pronounced as an N. Which is interesting, right? Because it makes my name in Thailand, Mikuhn. But Khun in Japan is a honorific for a little boy. Oh, so you’d say Michael Koon. As opposed to Michael Son if you’re like a little boy. So it’s just this weird trigger in my brain of like, why khun anyway, it’s great to have you here. Great to be here. My name right. How are you?

Cherie Wang 1:28
I’m good. How about you in this morning?

Michael Waitze 1:30
I am super. You just got home? Yeah, yeah.

Cherie Wang 1:33
And I was so excited to see you here in Singapore.

Michael Waitze 1:37
It’s weird, though, isn’t it? Because we’ve met virtually,

Cherie Wang 1:40
Yeah, many times now.

Michael Waitze 1:41
Yeah. But I’ve had a lot of this actually, in the last month where I’ve met people face to face that I’ve never met in person before. Right. It’s a strange thing, I think that’s happened over the past couple of years. Because like, I feel like I know you. And you feel like, you know me, right?

Cherie Wang 1:59
Yeah. But you you kind of have to match that person with the impression of the person size and then when you see that person in person, they’re like, Oh, okay. She’s much taller.

Michael Waitze 2:10
But I know you’re thinking that right? Yeah. And you’re thinking about me? He’s much shorter than expected.

Cherie Wang 2:16
No, actually, that then crossed my mind. But I think you’d look exactly the same as as we did in the in the calls. I guess like for for some people working from home, or you tend to look a little dress down? For some people. Maybe myself maybe like, like, face painting or no face painting?

Michael Waitze 2:38
Maybe I don’t think about it a lot. I don’t know. Yeah, particularly like I don’t wear makeup, right? No, no. I had an interesting experience yesterday with a guy that was on one of the calls that I did. Yeah. And it was so enlightening for me. Right? Because how can I say this? Again? He was wearing makeup. Unbothered, right at all, like nail polish, I don’t care who you are what you do, like, I’m really indifferent. And to be fair, if you look at all of the stuff that I do, it’s super diverse. But it’s purposely diverse, right? You know, one of the things my grandfather’s said to me when I was little as you are what you do, not what you say? Right? So I can talk all I want about subject X or subject y. But if I’m saying one thing and doing another thing. It’s just different, right? Yeah. Anyway, yesterday was really fascinating. Let’s talk about business. I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you. But let’s talk a little bit about business. Right. We like to ask our guests what the biggest trend is in insurance and insurtech, just for some context. So what do you think that is?

Cherie Wang 3:52
I think, on a broader scale off the financial sector, actually, most people would have known now that the distribution channels have changed a lot. The landscape of traditional face to face meetings on are just just translated to remote meetings. Right, right. I mean, it’s just like how we’re doing zoom calls all the time before we meet people face to face, right. It’s pretty much the same for the entire finance industry for consumers. But the the interesting thing is insurance has been the laggard in this whole movement. It could be because of the nature of the product. Financial Services is an intrinsic product. But for insurance on top of that, it’s a gain that you only get in the future. Right? So it’s very hard to to get people to act on it quickly.

Michael Waitze 4:48
Right. So if I buy a stock today, if I recommend for you to buy a stock, right, if I’m a financial planner, and I say hey, buy Apple, and it goes up 10% or down 7% I can feel it. Yeah, but if I buy a life policy.

Cherie Wang 5:00
see? Ya, you’re gonna wonder like, when would you watch the benefit

Michael Waitze 5:03
to me? When do I feel it? And the reality is for like a life insurance policy at scale? I only kind of know when I die. Yeah, it’s probably the most people think. Right. Yeah.

Cherie Wang 5:12
I mean, the most people think that way. But I think, moreover, financial literacy has only improved with time in the last 10 years. It’s actually quite exponential when I speak to people. Really? Yeah, it’s very different.

Michael Waitze 5:25
How long have you been? Like, when did you found Planner Bee?

Cherie Wang 5:29
Planner Bee was founded in 2019. Okay, and we launched in 2020. But I’ve been in the industry since 2010.

Michael Waitze 5:37
And always in financial service. Have you been selling always? When did you think you would be a good salesperson? Do you know what I mean? Like, did you realize as a kid, like, people pay attention to me? I’ve got my own kind of special charisma. Do you know what I mean?

Cherie Wang 5:54
Yeah, yeah. Well, I, I’ve only noticed this after being in this job for I mean, in financial services in the sales line for about five years, I think. Yeah. And I realized what made a good salesperson I had I have an uncle. He’s really good at selling. And I’ve only noticed that as a salesperson and trying to improve myself. I’m like, Oh, he’s really good.

Michael Waitze 6:18
Did you notice that when you were younger, you noticed that after you started doing it.

Cherie Wang 6:21
After I started doing, I realized how convincing he was.

Michael Waitze 6:27
It’s like eat your pees, I’m not hungry. But But what’s, uh, what was the like, what was the development of your thought process around what makes a good salesperson?

Cherie Wang 6:39
I think if you’re not a good actor, at least, if you’re being genuine, you have to be really convicted in what you’re selling.

Michael Waitze 6:45
So this is really important to me. I was when I was at Morgan Stanley, I wasn’t so much on the sales side, I was a trader, right? So I was making prices for bonds. And I was a bond trader, we made markets, and we took our own positions. When I moved to Georgia and into Goldman, I was actually a sales trader. So doing a little bit of both, you know what that means, right? And I was terrible at the sales part. Like I was a really good trader, because I could understand the macro and the micro the things that affected the way securities were going to move. But I was indifferent to convincing you as a proxy for everybody else to either buy or sell anything in particular, because there’s so much stuff I don’t know about you. But also I didn’t care.

Cherie Wang 7:31
I think being a market maker, and the salesperson it’s difficult. Yeah. Yeah. You probably if you ask tourists to buy an insurance policy, they might have a problem with that, too.

Michael Waitze 7:42
Yeah, exactly. So the point I’m trying to make is because you use this word convicted. I really believe that if I believe in something, I can sell it to anybody. Yeah. Because I don’t care what your opinion is. I know deep down inside. This is the right thing. Yeah. Anyway, so you figured that out? Yeah.

Cherie Wang 8:00
And that is why I was saying that. When you’re a market maker, and a salesperson is difficult, because you’re trying to look at things from more probably from the maker side. Sure. Yeah. But for me, when when we do when I sell anything, I mean, even like convincing you like something works that I believe in, right, right, right. I’m looking at it from a person’s need.

Michael Waitze 8:25
Right. So in other words, if I’m not like, if I don’t have a bathing suit, and we’re going to the beach, it’s easy to say you need one of these, because you really believe it, though, right?

Cherie Wang 8:32
Yeah. And like if I know that we’re going to the beach, but you don’t think so? I don’t know. But like you need one. Right, right. Right. Right. Yeah. And, and I think it’s the same concept when we developed how planner B would be as a customer experience. I’ve spend the first probably first five to 10 years of the sales process, telling people why they need insurance. Why do you need financial planning? Why do you need to invest? Okay, but in the last five years, it’s interesting. It’s been like, I don’t need to tell you that you need to do this. You know, you need to do this. And now you just need to understand how it’s done.

Michael Waitze 9:09
What’s the difference, though?

Cherie Wang 9:12
convincing someone that they have a need is way harder.

Michael Waitze 9:15
Yeah, fair enough. Right. So me they’re hungry. I’m not hungry.

Cherie Wang 9:19
Yeah. But if I’m telling you like, you’re gonna be hungry by the time the food comes.

Michael Waitze 9:23
Yeah, maybe not. And then when it comes on, like, I wasn’t hungry. Yeah. Fair enough.

Cherie Wang 9:28
Yeah. So. So it’s like telling people that you’ll be hungry by the time you need when the food comes. And that was difficult. But now people are like, Oh, I know. I understand. The financial literacy has gone up. So you don’t need to convince the need anymore. But way back when I need to tell someone like I’m convinced that you will have this need, right. That’s difficult, right? That’s

Michael Waitze 9:50
super hard. Right? Yeah. But when did you realize that you had to change this methodology? Right. I’m not talking about a specific date, right? Because you’ve been in the regular financial services world before you started your own company for a while. Right? And you must have, like, same thing for me. I felt like every day like I was bumping up against a wall, in the sense that there were things that I wanted to do. But it didn’t fit in. And maybe it’s different for you. But it didn’t fit into kind of the role that I had. And it didn’t matter, even if my role expanded. Or if I was promoted, there was like a way of doing things. And even if that way, like if that road got a little bit wider, it didn’t include all the things that I thought it should. Does that make sense? Yeah. Because you said the reason why is because you said these digital channels, right, have expanded. But we could have done these digital channels like, at these big firms?

Cherie Wang 10:48
Yeah, great question.

Michael Waitze 10:50
But we didn’t, sorry, go ahead.

Cherie Wang 10:51
I know, it’s all about perspective and where we’re coming from. That’s my point. All right. Yeah. So I think the problems the incumbents, or, you know, like people are in the picture for too long, you’re trying to fix a problem from a different angle. Tell me. So coming back to my experience of like, your question of how I’ve found a difference in like, how sales is working, or is looking at myself as a consumer. And that wasn’t difficult, because the experience with financial planning has not been very experienced, very, very pleasant from from a decade ago, maybe maybe even now, I don’t know. Because I’m not on that side anymore. Right. Right. Right. But as a consumer and, and even just understanding yourself, as a consumer for other things. As a reference point is a lot of salespeople, they assume that a person needs something, but most of the time as a salesperson, you you need to ask more questions, because you need to know what the person needs. Right? Right. And you can’t tell until you ask questions, because you need those answers to know if it’s a good fit.

Michael Waitze 11:59
Right? So it’s almost like, are you taking this top down? I’m going to prescribe something to you, as opposed to, I just need to know more about you first. Maybe you don’t need any of this actually,

Cherie Wang 12:09
exactly. Right. Yeah. But from an incumbents point of view. They’re gonna be like, you need this and I’m gonna push it to you. Right? And it seems then more like a sales process, because it’s more like I’m selling you like, like hot selling,

Michael Waitze 12:24
right. And this was the problem for me always is that I knew sometimes when I was talking to somebody, you don’t need this. Right. But that my job was to sell it. Yeah. And it was reasonable for us very uncomfortable, but they know too, right? Yeah. It’s like a the way a dog can smell like if you’re afraid. Yeah. And I know this because I’m afraid of dogs. And they’re always trying to bite me.

Cherie Wang 12:44
That’s difficult in Bangkok. Oh, my God.

Michael Waitze 12:47
I have a funny story to tell you. But I always felt conflicted. Yeah. Right. Like I felt like being on the phone going. You don’t need this. Yeah. I’ll call you back later. Sorry. Go ahead.

Cherie Wang 12:58
Yeah, so a salesperson that that works is when they are convicted. And you know that as a salesperson, this is something I believe in. Right. And I think that the person needs it. The interesting thing about financial services is everybody needs it. It’s just a far amount. You know, it’s the same product, but it’s just in a different configuration.

Michael Waitze 13:23
Yeah. So if you feel like you can build a sales experience from scratch, right. And I don’t want to talk so much about personalization, because I feel like it’s a buzzword, right. You know what I mean, though? Yeah, it’s important, right? In other words, if I want to sell something to you, or sell something to your brother, by definition, it’s going to be different. Exactly. And if it’s not, that’s problematic, too. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about that, unless unless you do. But if you have a chance to build sort of a sales approach from scratch, how do you do that? Right, because at some level planner B does that. No,

Cherie Wang 14:00
yeah, yeah. It’s exactly what we did. Instead of coming from a product maker standpoint, right? I came from a consumer standpoint. Now. I’m like, okay, and I’ve done this for 10 years now. And it works. It works really well.

Michael Waitze 14:14
So what’s different? I’m really curious. So,

Cherie Wang 14:17
as a consumer, like, if I’m telling you, you need financial services, gonna ask you a bunch of questions about you. It’s almost like a doctor asking you like how you feeling symptoms you have before telling you, hey, you know, you’re you’re healthy, except ABC. And to get ABC, well, you need to do 123. And here are your options for 123.

Michael Waitze 14:43
How do people respond to this, though? In other words, do you feel like because they’re getting sales calls from other firms? Yeah, right. And some of them haven’t changed their sales methodology in decades, right. Yeah. Right. So the the lady that used to sit next to work, I’m sure she’s fabulous, but she’s still making the same kind of calls. Yeah. And then you call and say, how are you? Essentially? Yeah, it sounds weird, but Oh, not really not to me. Sorry. Go ahead.

Cherie Wang 15:08
What did you think a call like? That would be okay. Maybe it’s if it’s a call from someone you don’t know. It’ll be strange. But

Michael Waitze 15:13
I’m simplifying, though, right? Just to make the point. Yeah, I don’t if I just called you out of the blue and said, Sherry, how are you paying off? Right, but you would. But if the, if the methodology around that call is centered really around, how are you? It’s very different than you need this. Right. What’s worse? I mean, that’s way worse, I think no,

Cherie Wang 15:35
yeah. Like maybe if I can bring this experience to a purchase of a property. And it’s done many times. Perhaps maybe it’s not too strange in in Bangkok, but in Singapore, the trend of houses, I mean, residential houses, has they’ve gone down in size over the years. Okay. So when you view places now, property agents are like, this is great. So is this so is this so is this right? And this one guy was like, two, two cabinets here. Gigantic, can fit everything that you have. And that’s very dangerous. And I’m like thinking about this all the time when I meet salespeople that this is a very dangerous command for you. Because you’re saying it suits me when you don’t know anything about me? Yeah. Right. So that’s what I am conscious about. And when I speak to salespeople from different, different industries, I’m very aware that I don’t do the same thing. And that’s why we don’t do when we build the app to we ask you questions. First, we don’t tell you hey, you need 123 without without knowing if you actually have the need for it, right? Yeah,

Michael Waitze 16:38
yeah. Again, just to get back to the food analogy. It’s like me serving you sushi, and you don’t eat raw food. Exactly. Right. It could be the best sushi in the world.

Cherie Wang 16:47
Yeah. And then the customer comes back with the arbery touch and like,

Michael Waitze 16:54
you have way too much information about.

Cherie Wang 16:57
So yeah, so so it’s important for the consumer to be convinced only if they feel that the personalization has been done. And that is through, you know, fact finding, right, right where it is used a lot. But it really is essential. And doing it in a fun way, in a way that’s not taxing on the consumer for financial services, because we’ve got a ton of KYC to do. It’s important because it’s so painful for everybody, for the consumer, for the company for the advisor. So we find a way to get the KYC done in the shortest amount of time, in the least amount of

Michael Waitze 17:35
effort. And is it all automated? Mostly? In the

Cherie Wang 17:42
I’ll take it out. Yeah, it’s mostly automated. It depends on people’s willingness to share the information, because if they trust you, they will choose the most automatic way to live, social mission. And then if you pull the information from your bank from SingPass, my info from your insurance companies, you don’t need to do any manual input. It’s a lot easier than an advisor telling you hey, could you go get all your bank statements? Oh, god. Yeah. And you wouldn’t give them the full statement? You’d be like, What do you want from the statement? Right, right. And then you it’s so much work for you to do. And if you look at your bank ibanking accounts you see up to like, three, four months. That’s it. And that’s it. Yeah. And you’re like, Okay, no problem, because a mom will be like, did I get my rental income a year ago? I’m like, really? You asking this now? Yeah. And I’m like, Okay, let’s check your plan yet. It’s still there.

Michael Waitze 18:36
It’s still there. Yeah, we

Cherie Wang 18:37
keep it because it’s your information. It’s for you to see, but we use it when you need it.

Michael Waitze 18:41
So what happens? There’s so many questions here about data, right? It’s this thing that I cannot get out of my head. Because you can do data analysis in so many different ways, right? You can do it just for me. So you can see that if I’m 22 years old, and I get my first job, and I’m making $35,000 a year. And as I progress if I’m still using the app, right, you can see that five years later, I’m not making $125,000 a year. So my, my view on financial planning has completely changed. Right? Yeah. And I saw it because it happened to me over time. But you don’t want to be too creepy, creepy, right and proactive about saying, Hey, I noticed you just got a raise. Because it’s like, can I tell you like, you know what I mean, right? Like, even if you show up in a new car, your friends are just gone. Or maybe her bonus was good. Yeah, kind of thing. Right? But if you got a call from the dealership going buy a new BMW, you’d think how do they know? How do you balance those two? Do you know? I mean?

Cherie Wang 19:42
Yeah. I think the level of creepiness depends on if the consumer has opted in for that. So we have to tell them do you want us to be creepy. How creepy. So do you want us to a good point, sorry. Go ahead. Yeah. Because if you ask the them, like, do you want us to tell you if your financial status have changed that you need something else? And you’re like, yes, then then they wouldn’t be so creeped out when something changed and research is on.

Michael Waitze 20:11
So this is you’ve just reminded me of something. When I was living in Tokyo. I wanted to buy a new car. And I always dressed kind of like this. And maybe it was the summertime. So maybe I was wearing shorts, right. But I don’t normally wear socks, and I put on my nice shoes for you. But normally, I have flip flops on, just because it’s more comfortable for my feet. And I remember walking into the Range Rover dealer. They don’t know anything about me back then. Right? Because they’re not gathering data or anything. But the guy was completely dismissive. Because he didn’t think I could afford it. He thought I was just randomly walking in. But he was super mean to me. Oh, yeah. And if he had been smart, and this is kind of what you’re saying, he would have said to me, you know, hey, why don’t you test the Range Rover? And, and let us know when you’re ready to buy? And then we’ll let you know all these other things about it. And that’s a level of I don’t want to use creepy, right? Because that’s not what I don’t think that’s what really discerning people are doing. Right? And if you’re running your business in the right way, which I presume you are, you’re not being creepy. You’re just trying to be helpful. Yeah. Helpful. Yes. Right. It feels creepy to people that don’t understand maybe, but I don’t want to use that word anymore. Right? In other words, how proactive Do you want me to be? But if that guy had been smart, he would have done what you’re doing and said, hey, you know what, even if in his head, he’s like, You’re too poor for this. I’m interested, when I’m intentional. That’s why I’m there. So just let me tell you in a way, that helps me what I want. And that’s what you’re saying. Yeah,

Cherie Wang 21:43
yeah. I mean, of course, you would like to see, you know, bad customers. Sure. Sure. Sure. But there are ways to do it without seeming rude. Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah. And losing that deal. Did you buy the car? Anyone?

Michael Waitze 21:57
No, I didn’t know what product came about. I bought a Cayenne instead. So it’s like, you know, like, how would you know? Yeah. Anyway, anyway,

Cherie Wang 22:07
yeah, it’s back to the the proactiveness. So it’s the same from like, client to when Facebook was more of a thing for people to keep friends updated? Yeah. And, and, and if they posted about the baby, as a financial advisor that saw that, do you want to be proactive to tell them? Hey, you’ve got a new baby.

Michael Waitze 22:29
Right? You should start investing now for whatever, we should do something. Yeah.

Cherie Wang 22:33
And interestingly, you know, as an as a naturally a non sales person, I’m naturally quite introverted. So doing sales is not exactly. natural to me. Yeah, yes. Yeah. I’m a perfectly functional introvert. Going back to height in two hours. Yeah. So people actually wanted that proactiveness from me, and like, you saw my baby on Facebook. Why didn’t you tell me that? I need to do this. Right. Right. So I’m like, Oh, yeah. Okay. So it changed my mind about then being a better salesperson that my mindset, switch to education. I’m like, I’m telling you that this should be done based on the information that you gave me about yourself, right? It’s your choice if you want to do it. But my job is done.

Michael Waitze 23:23
I’m listening. I’m thinking, Yeah, I’m thinking you don’t have to say anything. I’m really thinking, but my job is done. And in a way it is right. And I feel like maybe this is the same reason why I wasn’t a great salesperson, too. I want to give you enough information. So you can make the decision and you feel like you’ve made the decision yourself. I don’t want to bother you. Like you either want pizza or you don’t. Right. And if I’ve, if I’ve approached the idea of pizza with you, and you don’t take it, I’m not pushing it on you. Is my methodology, which is why wasn’t so great.

Cherie Wang 23:55
Yeah, but if you’re a nutritionist at the same time, you’re like, Yeah, but by the way, if you eat the pizza, that’s like 1200 calories, do that every day, you’re gonna be fat, and then you’re gonna be vulnerable. So maybe you’re thinking all of that. I agree. I agree. Market Maker. Yeah, I

Michael Waitze 24:09
agree. I agree. 2020 launch two years of experience. But all this thought process around sales. It’s so interesting, isn’t it?

Cherie Wang 24:19
Yeah, we were learning.

Michael Waitze 24:21
Because the thing too, so I go ahead,

Cherie Wang 24:23
face to face sales has gotten to a point where it’s very easy for me because it didn’t feel like sales. Right? Right. But when you’re doing it digitally, it’s very different because you don’t see the person you can tell how they feeling. If they’re responding well, and there’s so much online, you get what 100 emails a day of junk noise, right? And then there’s like 20 important ones that you might miss out because of the junk. It’s hard to reach someone on a digital space. So

Michael Waitze 24:53
how do you do that, too?

Cherie Wang 24:55
We’re still learning. So yeah, yeah. And then Paul, interestingly, he sent us an email the other day About a research that people tend to open only after six emails. What does that mean? Like if you send us a message once your hit rate is probably bad, really, you can send it six times and people are more likely to open on the sixth and seventh time. And that’s crazy. Yeah. What

Michael Waitze 25:21
do you think about it for you?

Cherie Wang 25:22
It’s crazy, because on the traditional basis, if I’m calling you, and I’m annoyed, because this the max, but we have to switch our mindset now, to understand that this is a different landscape. And that being more PERS persistent, isn’t isn’t, is normal.

Michael Waitze 25:42
But this is really interesting to write. Because let’s say I want to take you and your family out to dinner. And I call you I go, Hey, Sherry, what are you doing next weekend, let’s all go out. Like I can’t, I’m busy, which is maybe your way of saying I’m not interested. And then I call you again, and you see my number pop up, and I call CAUTI. Right? And then the third time, you’re like, I’m just deleting this, like, I’m not ever going to answer this phone from this person. But because you’re not getting 1000 calls a day. So it’s a different mindset. You could get 1000 emails a day, and you frankly may miss my mail. And then when you finally see it, because it shows up at the right time in the right place in your email sack. You might be like, Oh, my God, I missed that mail from sherry.

Cherie Wang 26:21
Yeah. And I would have maybe sent that like six times already. But

Michael Waitze 26:24
I don’t know that even maybe that’s the difference. I think no more part of the difference. Yeah,

Cherie Wang 26:28
correct. So now we’re like we’re learning like, how many times what is the frequency that would be the right time at the right place for each person? So there’s a lot of segmentation customization with the, with the communication. And some people like it via email, some people like it via push notifications, some people going on WhatsApp message. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s customization at scale, but yet not really. Right. Yeah, that’s, that’s challenging, because from a personal basis, it’s not scalable. But you can react very quickly, because if I’m seeing that you’re not replying, and I could think, okay, maybe he’s just busy. Yeah, right. Yeah. And then you respond immediately for for this person, right. But from a technical standpoint, every every change that you make, takes time, because you need to code that out. And that’s not

Michael Waitze 27:20
forcing you to figure it out. Right. Yeah. Are you a tech enthusiast? Anyway?

Cherie Wang 27:23
I am usually an early adopter. Okay. Yeah. But I’m, I’m interested in tight. I’m interested in efficiency. Right. Right. Right. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 27:32
So I’m not a coder.

Cherie Wang 27:34
I mean, I’m not

Michael Waitze 27:35
at all Yeah, I understand how code works, which is why I look at it and go, I cannot do that. Right. I’ve tried to, I cannot do this. But I get it. And I’m not afraid of technology. And I’ve always used it at work to make what I do more efficient. And also for the teams in which I’ve worked as well. Are you finding that as you get more and more into building right? Planner be that not only you’re getting a better understanding of tech, but a better understanding of the way to like properly use all the data that you’re gathering to make the experience better for me, essentially? Yeah.

Cherie Wang 28:12
I think it’s, we have a good baseline, because we’ve been dealing with that data for years. On a traditional, very non scalable way. Okay, so collection of a person’s I see number two,

Michael Waitze 28:27
what’s an IC number?

Cherie Wang 28:28
Like? Like a national?

Michael Waitze 28:29
National ID? Yeah, it’s an identity card. Yeah. All right. Okay, go ahead.

Cherie Wang 28:33
Right down to their BMI. Oh, no. And actually, I’m able to track the BMI of a lot of people. Because if I’ve known you since 2010, and we’ve done an application, right, and then 2015 When you’re pregnant, and then post pregnancy and then so, you know, we have all of that data, it was just in a database that was just not utilized. Yeah, not really accessible. Yeah. So So now with tag in enables us to pull data out a lot easy, giving people a lot more convenience. Because if, for example, I’m applying for a new insurance policy, right, I don’t remember how, how, what my health was five years ago, because it’s it’s not, there wasn’t anything important to write about, but the insurance, like, use it this five years ago. And will and you’re like, I don’t remember. Right. But as a as a, as a channel, if we’re able to assist you and say, hey, yeah, you know, these are your records from five years ago now. Just can we use that? I think that is where convenience, with the use of data would be would be widely adopted, like widely accepted for most consumers. The question is, I think what you might be thinking about is sharing of data. Third parties and stuff like that. Yeah. Yeah. So so very concerned with that. I think, thankfully, my brother who’s my co founder, he’s Um, he’s an AI engineer. So he’s like, Oh, this is how you we have to anonymize everything. And nobody’s fair actually. Yeah. And so so we’re really careful with that. But the question is everyone is giving away data for convenience. Right? Right. That’s the tread. Yeah. I think there is a need for transparency. And that’s when people are more accepting of what you do with that data. Right. And allowing them to know that it’s theirs. Yeah, I think a lot of big companies like I’m collecting your data, but it’s mine. It’s mine. And that’s bad. And that’s not what we believe in. Right. Yeah. But the question is, if we use it in third party providers, vendors like Amazon, and stuff like that, you really don’t know beyond that. What they’re doing. Yeah. And why Yeah. But there isn’t other options. You you’ve only got them. You can have your own servers, but you might get a fire in your house. And that’s it. Right, right. So the options are limited. And we do what we can within our means.

Michael Waitze 31:07
Yeah, I mean, I spent a lot of time thinking about self sovereign data. Right, I own it, if you need it. I’m happy to give it to you. But I need to know what the benefit is for me. And even if it’s just a financial benefit, I’m happy to give you that data, as long as I get some financial benefit back. In other words, you can just pay me directly for it. I’ll give you $1,000 a month to know your health data, no problem if I want to, or, you know, more complicated, like, if you give me this amount of data, your premiums will go down. Or, you know, you’ll get a free movie every month or some kind of trade. But if it’s just give me your data, it’s on me now. It feels unfair, right?

Cherie Wang 31:46
Yeah. And people are more aware now much more aware. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 31:51
Yeah. I mean, in the old days, nobody knew nobody cared. Yeah, because I didn’t know what you were doing with it. No. And I didn’t feel like I was trading anything. Like, again, in the old days, you would go to a supermarket and say, Okay, you write a check for groceries. Like think about it, people actually did that. But they’d say, can we have your phone number and your email address? And nobody ever thought why? Yeah. Right. But now they’ll go go check into a hotel, and they’re like, give me here’s where you put your email and your phone number. And I’m like, Yeah, you’re not getting that. Because you don’t need it. You don’t they don’t need it. They’re just asking. And they don’t check. Right. So I could put down literally like, 6532745. I don’t know what phone number that is. But they’re not checking that. What they’re trying to do is put you into a database for free without telling you why.

Cherie Wang 32:36
Yeah. And that’s what we’re trying to not do not do. But people are like, so used to it. Sometimes if you’re giving them the over, over information, information, I understand. They get like home, you’re weird.

Michael Waitze 32:49
No, there’s a balance right for everything. And you learn over time. And this is the great thing about the way you think about it. You’re like, this is the way I think it should be. But I’m being told by the people that are using my app, that they actually want it like this. And as long as that’s okay with us, which should be okay. To build it that way. Yeah. Yeah. It’s all part of the learning process. Yeah. Is there? Is there a hybrid part of your business? Or is it all a Tech experience? You know, what I mean, like other human salespeople, as well,

Cherie Wang 33:23
we do. We, so we started off branded as a Digital’s digital platform. Okay. And then we realized that actually, that’s not really what what this is, and this is also not what people want. So we changed, we changed a marketing speech about it, because if we’re talking about financial services with regard to banking, right, that is okay, if it’s 100% Tech, because, to be honest, the bank don’t give as much service anyway. Right. There’s

Michael Waitze 33:54
no other questions. Where’s the ATM? Yeah. What’s my balance? Yeah. zero interest rate, like, okay,

Cherie Wang 34:00
yeah. One, okay. Be on a call for half an hour. Right. Right. Right. So there isn’t a need for a person to be there for banking. It’s moving towards that for investments. Maybe pretty much I think I think robo advisors in Singapore are still probably struggling with a full tech onboarding because people are not used to it yet, but it will get there. And insurance being the laggard, it has to be on omni channel at this point.

Michael Waitze 34:26
It does the right. Yeah, there are questions though. Right? Like if I, if I buy an ETF that tracks the performance of the NASDAQ. Right, if I buy triple Q’s, yeah. There are many questions to ask are there? I don’t know. I can see your brain working. You’re like yeah, maybe if it’s an ETF. There are a few questions. Go ahead.

Cherie Wang 34:45
Yeah. But like because you’re actually literate about the topic. There are a lot of people who are just reading a blog or two and like going to buy without knowing that there are questions to be asked. Right. So actually, these people are not asking anything because they don’t know that there are Questions? Yeah, yeah. So, but it’s a very simple like, I buy this, I trade this and I wait for it to grow or it goes down goes down. So it’s a very simple concept because it’s, it’s, you get the effects immediately.

Michael Waitze 35:16
Right? I mean, we talked about this earlier, but you can feel it went up 3%.

Cherie Wang 35:19
Yes. And it’s quite binary. But for insurance, the problem is, when you name it, for example, critical illness, yeah, it’s quite subjective. What you consider is critical.

Michael Waitze 35:31
And what’s covered? What are the exclusions, all of these things?

Cherie Wang 35:35
And so that’s when it’s difficult, because if you use a term like this, and you actually have a whole 40, page long, fine print, right, of what it means, it’s hard for people to know, and nobody wants to read it. Yeah. And like comparing between 15 insurers, where you have different terms for the same type of thing, right? You need an omni channel approach right now, because people are going to be confused,

Michael Waitze 36:01
right? So I want to I want to talk about this. When we were doing sales trading, a lot of it was in real time on the phone with a client who wanted to either buy a group of stocks, a sub index of big index, all these really complicated questions. And at the beginning, you’d have to do like massive searches on their portfolio or look through your notes and try to remember what they bought, what it sold, when they did it, why they did it. Did they participate in that inclusion, trade, or the exclusion trade and all these things you had to remember. And then over time, we built this thing in different names, but essentially a smart sales trading system. So that if a client called us we put in their name, we knew where they worked, we know how long they’d been there. And we knew what their whole portfolio was, and what the performance had been in all these things. And I always thought that, like, the technology didn’t, that piece of technology didn’t remove me from my job. It just made me so much better at it. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like, it’s super charged. It made me look like a genius, even though I’m kind of smart, but it just really, I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But it made me look like a genius, because the person was like, you remember that so quickly. And it made sales easier. Yeah. That’s why I asked about the hybrid thing, because that’s a hybrid solution. Yeah. You see the same thing happening in insurance? Yes.

Cherie Wang 37:14
And the whole process is pretty fixed. It’s, it’s from the fact finding to you know, the fact finding itself is a long time and then finding a fit for a product that’s customized for the person, right? That whole process is the same for the end consumer by themselves, or an advisor, figuring that out for them. Right. Right. Right. And then we think about the whole process and see, okay, from steps one to 10, what can we automate? Yeah, in that process, right? Yeah. So we started automating from the very start, because we are able to when, when there was an announcement on the future for open financial planning in the region, this is what we can work on, right, because we’re able to automate the first parts of financial planning. But what we’re struggling to do now is I hope some insurers are listening to this. Yes, they are and parts of it. What’s that part? So getting the data to be able to, to get a quotation instantly. So a person that wants to buy now in their bed at 12? Midnight? Right? So

Michael Waitze 38:18
this is Go ahead. Go ahead. Difficult. It’s super hard and wake up because I bought insurance this year. Yeah. And it took me well, it actually took me a year. You’re laughing. But I went through this whole process with an agent. And I was like, you know, they’re not giving me enough information. So I feel comfortable deciding, and I’m not going to settle. So I stopped dealing with that agent, and then deal with an agent who I trusted so much more, she was amazing. But after like, we’re sitting here chatting like this, and she’s like, You could do this, this or this, or this. And I’m like, awesome. I want to do this. What does it cost? And she was like, I’ll get back to you. Yeah. And I felt bad for her. It’s not her problem. Yeah, she’s not the one making the quote. And I thought, Oh, that’s terrible. Because, again, when I started trading bonds back in 1990. No laughing about age anyway, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. The salesperson would literally call us over the white phone and go, you know, offer me 10 million off the run to your notes. And you’d be like, Mmm, and he’d go took too long.

Unknown Speaker 39:23

Michael Waitze 39:25
Seriously, so when you fast forward 20 years. 15 years, right? To my broker. She had to wait like two or three days is a big problem. That’s what you’re saying. Right? Yeah. They should be able to generate a quote right there. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And there are companies working on it. Sorry. Go ahead.

Cherie Wang 39:44
They are, but they’re taking really long. I’m

Michael Waitze 39:47
talking about startups like yours are working on this. Right. Yeah. But again, all they have is an API connection to an insurer, that insurer still has to give them a quote.

Cherie Wang 39:55
Yeah, and most insurers are not. I think I think their concerns I’m sharing quotation API’s, right, which I understand that, you know, you might get into a price comparison thing. But this is what consumers want now.

Michael Waitze 40:14
And also they’re used to it in every other part of their life. Yeah, right.

Cherie Wang 40:17
Exactly. Right. I mean, you you have a marketplace for everything, everything. But now you have a marketplace that is like a cliffhanger. Because you’re like, oh, yeah, I know, now that I need a term insurance for 20 years. Now, I would like a quotation from a few insurers, right? Oh, sorry, we’ll take a week to let you know, because insurance, we have to put it into the quotation system. Do the comparison for you, because the quotation come back quite different formats. And then you have to consolidate that into a readable format for the end consumer without being seen as would call it. misrepresenting,

Michael Waitze 40:53
right? Yeah, right. Right. So this was always the problem for me. And the insurance that are listening to this will be very upset. But like the mattress business, you’ll see the, you’ll see my point in a second, if there were three mattress stores right next to each other, or like on the same block, right, you could go to one and they’d say, by the Sealy Posturepedic, and would have a name like power sleep or something. Yeah. And you go to the end, it would have a price on it, you know, $9,000, something silly, then you go to the store next store, and it would essentially be the same product with maybe a small tweak and a different name. So a slightly different price. It’s the same thing. It’s not misrepresenting it. But I can’t make a one to one comparison. Because I don’t know the basis of it.

Cherie Wang 41:38
Right. But for an insurance policy, you can because you could read. I can but

Michael Waitze 41:43
I don’t have the ability. Like are you familiar with? Are you familiar with Unix? No. So Unix is the operating system that runs almost every computer that you use? Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah. So Unix has this command called diff. Right at the core, if you have a, if you have a prompt, and you have two files that have all the same information in it, and one of the thing changed, like, let’s say you’re editing this file, you’re like, Oh, shucks, what did I change? You can run a diff file, right on it. And it’ll tell you, it’ll spit out just what’s different? Yeah. But you can’t diff your computer. You’re sorry, your insurance policy? Or most people can’t? Yeah,

Cherie Wang 42:19
yeah. It’s very difficult. And that’s why we do. And that’s a huge, difficult for us, too,

Michael Waitze 42:23
as well. Right. And that’s right. And you don’t know if it’s purposeful, or not purposeful. And in a way, it doesn’t matter.

Cherie Wang 42:30
Yeah. It matters only when it happens, which is dangerous. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I was horrified. Two months ago, when we’re doing a comparison for a travels, travel insurance for the resurgence of this activity now. Like, oh, and I was horrified to know that some insurers, they have different terms for annual policies and single trip. That’s my point, though, right? I’m like, I don’t even I can’t even keep track of that person, as an advisor. If I’m a one man show, I’m never going to be able to work with it. And And thankfully, we have help. And we’re like, oh, this is not covering for annual policy. I’m horrified. It’s the same policy name, right.

Michael Waitze 43:13
That’s my point, the matches, right? Even if it had the same name, it could be a different thing. Sorry.

Cherie Wang 43:17
So. So I get your point. And I think we all see the problem. So I think the relaxed reluctance in sharing of information from the insurance is understandable. But I think with the consumers pushing for this, it’s an eventual thing that we need to

Michael Waitze 43:33
I agree, right? In other words, if everything reverts to the mean, at some level, right? And if all this information is out here, and if what people want is really this, yeah, even the people that can’t see me know what I’m talking about. Right? But at some point, it’s just gonna revert to the mean, right? Because if all the information is two standard deviations, three standard deviations away, it’s gonna come back in here. Yeah,

Cherie Wang 43:51
yeah. And so that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to find a happy medium for nine s as changes move along that for everybody in the in the, in the situation, the incumbents, the new startups, the consumers to be in a happier place than where we are now. Right. Yeah, right.

Michael Waitze 44:07
Do you did you know, when you started planner B, that like the earliest stages of the building of the company, were going to be just like an experiment?

Cherie Wang 44:18
No. But was it? It was, and I think a lot of things are experiments even now. Yeah. Because it’s so new.

Michael Waitze 44:28
But is that a new idea for you like when you were running? And when you were thinking about building your company from scratch, right? Didn’t you think like, I’ll do these six things. I’m exaggerating a little bit, and then we’ll have a great company.

Cherie Wang 44:38
Yeah, right. Yes. And I was just heartened to know that it’s not a lot more experiments than I was expected to do. But it is though, right? It is. And it’s and it’s hard. It’s

Michael Waitze 44:56
super hard. And doesn’t that mean sorry that your investors and partners need to think Hey, you know what? Not for planter, but for any company, right? That’s trying to build something. They’re not getting any traction yet. But at least they’re doing the right experiments. Isn’t that almost more important at the beginning? No.

Cherie Wang 45:14
Yes. And I think they understood it more than I did. Okay. Well, that’s awesome.

Michael Waitze 45:18
In a way, that’s great, right? Yeah. But I’m like,

Cherie Wang 45:21
oh, but I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I forgot how much experiments I need that I did more than a decade ago. Sure. Very different experiments now, right. And as a non tech person, I’m like, I don’t know what I don’t know. Exactly. So I don’t know the capabilities. Right. Right. Right, right. And I’m like, I can do this on a personal basis. And I don’t know if there’s tech to replace that.

Michael Waitze 45:45
Yeah. But if, but on the other hand, once you get a better understand, this is why I want to go down this path a little bit. Because once you understand that experiments are possible, you can then rethink the way you look at building, because you’re gonna think, Hmm, what does tech make possible? And if it makes these other things possible that I hadn’t considered, I need to test that too.

Cherie Wang 46:07
Yeah, yeah. But the problem with a small team is you have to limit the amount of experimenting? Sure, sure. Sure. Right. So that’s the difficult part.

Michael Waitze 46:16
Yeah. And that’s why I said, as long as your supporters are looking going, Wow, they’re doing the right tests or the right experiments, then they should be in some level.

Cherie Wang 46:25
Yeah. But it’s, it’s also challenging, because you have investors and advisors to write are not in the industry. So they may not be able to help. Sometimes we wish we had more people to talk to about these experiments, if they’re the right ones. Yeah. But people as much as they want to help. They may not be an industry expert. Right. And if they are, they’re not the tech expert. And having a person that has both. It’s hard. It’s hard.

Michael Waitze 46:54
It’s super hard to find. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So

Cherie Wang 46:57
it’s, it’s an experiment.

Michael Waitze 47:00
The whole thing. I want to ask you one more topic before I let you go. Reality is I don’t want to let you go. But we’ve been at it for a while. Yeah, I know, you didn’t realize how long it was, yeah, that just shows how good you are at this. I don’t know if it’s me. One of the things that’s changing right is the way you engage with your clients, right? So when you were sitting on a sales desk at some big financial services firm, you would kind of only talk to people when you needed to and rely on the firm itself to do all of this engagement. But in smaller companies, I think engaging with your clients on a day to day basis, particularly in a place where our products are complex, is important. Do you see that changing for you? And just for the industry as a whole, to just be more engaged with their clients and partners, so that you’re top of mind? Right? So one of the guys, his name is Greg Krasnoff said to me, you know, banks interact with people on a day to day basis. So it’s top of mind, like, I know the name of my bank. And I may know what my bank can do for me. But insurance in particular, is not something that we engage with on a day to day basis doesn’t need to change, not like getting a phone call from your agent. But just just touch points. Yeah,

Cherie Wang 48:16
I think it’s important. Because it’s an a product that you don’t realize needs for very immediately. So people don’t think about it and think about it when they are claiming or when they’re paying, right. That’s what I always say. So insurance need to be able to be top of mind, because essentially, it’s quite a similar product that each company is trying to differentiate, but essentially, they’re all apples. Right? Right. You’re like selling different types of apples. So if you don’t differentiate yourself, and the easiest way or the best way actually is improved service. Yeah, for example, like if you do a claim now, for travel claim, it could be as quick as a day. Yeah. Grab, but on a on the challenging basis, it could take six months, for various reasons. case, it’s horrible for everybody in the situation. Go ahead. Yeah. But I had a GREP car that was like a fraudulent kind of transaction. Okay, and I was refunded in an hour.

Michael Waitze 49:21
Yeah, that’s the bit to me. That’s the way it should be. Yeah,

Cherie Wang 49:24
yeah. Yeah. And it can be done. If it’s automated.

Michael Waitze 49:28
Well, the parametric part of insurance. We haven’t touched upon it. All right, with real time data, real time information, real time policies. Again, your car crashes, it has a sensor in it. Your insurance company knows about it right away. You just get a message on your phone $7,000 Go get your car fixed kind of thing.

Cherie Wang 49:44
Yeah, I’m sure it’s not that simple. It’s not but look for fraud and stuff like that. But it can be simplified and a lot more efficient for the insurance standpoint. Yeah. If there was more investment in from from that, and I think they’re trying to it’s just less so. Munch to change, they have to prioritize, and they usually prioritize the sales process first. Okay, we’re seeing now advisors have a lot more tools that they could use now, okay, it helps with their jobs. But I think the laggard is in the processing now, then, you know, it’s in line with efficiency with, with fewer underwriters being available, you can increase the number of policies that can process if you just automate more of

Michael Waitze 50:28
it. Is it also fair to say, and I’ll let you go after this, right. But is it also fair to say that part of the prioritization is that if you change the processing, you’re not just changing necessarily all your future policies, but all of your previous and historic policies and that there’s risk there. And again, I’m thinking about a trading application that we had at Goldman Sachs. And if we change the way it interacted with the back office, like here are all the trades, we did send it to the back office. If that’s wrong, the problems are just exponentially larger than if a sales call goes wrong.

Cherie Wang 51:04
Yeah. Yeah. Right. And it’s a lot more investment because there’s so many database to

Michael Waitze 51:11
Yeah, it’s just so much more complicated, right? Yeah. But it’s a tech problem.

Cherie Wang 51:15
solved with like business.

Unknown Speaker 51:18
We did it. Yeah, we did it. It was scary.

Cherie Wang 51:21
Yeah, I can imagine. And I think it’s the same thing for insurance because there’s so many systems that they have to merge. Right. And that’s the risk, but it has to be done. And risk mitigation is the CTOs problem.

Michael Waitze 51:35
Isn’t that the whole point? Yeah. Okay, I’m gonna let you go. Cherie Wang, a founder, a co founder at Planner Bee That was brilliant.

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Episode 242