This article was written in collaboration with MoneyOwl. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
If you are someone who constantly keeps a close tab on what’s going on in Singapore’s personal finance landscape, you would have heard the news that a new player, MoneyOwl Pte Ltd (MoneyOwl), has entered the fray.
MoneyOwl is a joint venture between NTUC Enterprise Co-operative Ltd and Providend Holding Pte Ltd. Providend is the parent company of DIYInsurance, an insurance platform now subsumed under MoneyOwl. If you head to the DIYInsurance website today, you will be re-directed to the MoneyOwl website.
Naturally, there will be questions, both from existing DIYInsurance users and new users who have never used any online insurance platform before, on what to expect from MoneyOwl.
In this article, we have identified 5 key areas that you need to know before you start using MoneyOwl.
# 1 MoneyOwl May Be New, However The Team Operating It Is Not
From an entity standpoint, MoneyOwl may be new. However, it’s worth noting that the team (and the technology) behind MoneyOwl is not entirely new. So, this isn’t a start-up without valuable prior experience.
Both Christopher Tan (CEO of Providend) and Eddy Cheong (formerly Head of DIYInsurance), who were part of the DIYInsurance team, will continue to serve at MoneyOwl as Executive Director and Chief Advisory Officer respectively. What is new is that MoneyOwl now has a dedicated design and tech team that will continue to enhance the portal’s capability.
MoneyOwl has also taken over the existing DIYInsurance technology, capability and know-how. As such, the insurance planning solutions that DIYInsurance has built and offered its clients has been enhanced upon and now sits on the MoneyOwl website.
So, while you may think MoneyOwl is a new or untested platform, this isn’t true. The platform includes an improved technology which has been built on top of what DIYInsurance has done previously, as well as staff and capabilities that were previously owned by DIYInsurance.
According to Business Times, the company currently has 25 employees including six advisers. Based on what we know, the previous DIYInsurance team is also now at MoneyOwl so its setup is far from a new company.
# 2 A Bionic Approach Towards Financial Planning
The word ‘bionic” is used, in medical terms, to describe parts of the body that has been replaced, modified or enhanced through electromechanical means. This ‘bionic’ approach is what MoneyOwl hopes to achieve for financial planning in Singapore.
Presently, most people in Singapore simply schedule 1-on-1 meetings with their financial adviser(s) when they need to have their insurance questions answered or have new insurance needs to address. Their advisers, the good ones at least, listen to them and propose solutions to solve their needs.
Every step along this financial planning journey is manual and based almost entirely on the knowledge of the adviser. It’s not surprising, then, that individual experiences for consumers can differ significantly, depending on how experienced and principled, your agent is. There may also be conflicts-of-interest which may arise, such as when advisers try to push higher margin products that pay out a higher commission.
MoneyOwl’s approach towards financial planning is to integrate the use of technology with its human advisers. Its technology uses complex financial models to create a financial plan with ease and precision.
At the same time, because money, and specifically, insurance, is a very personal topic and very often, involves emotions, aspirations and life decisions, there are also dedicated client advisers to help ascertain if users are buying the right products that they need. Questions, and a second opinion, if required, can also be provided by a qualified financial adviser.
This bionic approach, where a human adviser leverages on technology to help clients better identify their needs, allows MoneyOwl to serve a much bigger pool of clientele, while concurrently ensuring that their advisers are able to value-add by focusing on key areas that technology may not always be able to address for individuals.
# 3 Choose Between Two Journeys – Guided Approach & Directly Comparing
There are broadly two main groups of users who will find MoneyOwl useful.
The First Group: Help Me Find Out What I Need
The first group are people who are looking to buy insurance, but are unsure about the types of insurance policies they may need, and/or how much insurance coverage they require.
These people will find the guided “Find Out What I Need” journey more suitable for them. This journey starts off with individuals choosing the profiles that best describe them.
Once a suitable profile is selected, individuals will be brought through a step-by-step guide where they will answer a series of questions. These questions will ultimately help them determine the type of insurance policies that they need, and the level of coverage required.
The Second Group: I Know What I Need
For those who already know the type of insurance they want to buy and the coverage amount required, they can make use of MoneyOwl’s comparison platform to help them compare plans offered by different insurers.
All that is needed is for the user to select the type of insurance they want and to fill in the required inputs. MoneyOwl will then provide a quote from the various insurers that offer plans which the user is looking for.
# 4 MoneyOwl Financial Advisers Are Salary-Based
In Singapore, most insurance advisers are remunerated through a commission-based structure. This means they are paid only when they sell a financial product to their clients. There is also a smaller group of advisers who are fee-based or fee-only. These are advisers who charge a flat fee for the time they spend in helping their clients plan for their insurance needs
Similar to its predecessorDIYInsurance, all financial advisers employed under MoneyOwl are salary-based employees. What this means is that similar to most of us, these advisers are remunerated on a fixed, monthly salary each month, and not based on how much they sell. To ensure that they only provide conflict-free advice, the advisers do not participate in any incentive scheme nor receive any commission.
The responsibility of MoneyOwl advisers are to follow up with the clients that have enquired through the platform, explain products to clients, provide advice and second opinion as required and to ensure that clients buy only what is suitable for them.
# 5 Similar Benefits To DIYInsurance
If you were a DIYInsurance client previously, you may be wondering what would happen to the key benefits that were offered by DIYInsurance, such as its 50% commission rebate and after-sales support.
The simple answer is…nothing has changed.
All previous benefits and services offered by DIYInsurance continues on with MoneyOwl. This means that at the very least, you should expect the same quality platform experience, prompt service and any other benefits that you were already enjoying with DIYInsurance.
Of course, MoneyOwl isn’t just intending to be a DIYInsurance clone. It also hopes to improve on the existing product that DIYInsurance has built. This, to some extent, has already been done with MoneyOwl introducing different profiles in its insurance module to help users better identify the types of insurance policies that they need based on their life stages.
It is also now able to provide multiple quotations in a single enquiry and will continue to employ the support of salary-based advisers to follow up with clients.
Expect More Future Developments From MoneyOwl
If you visit the MoneyOwl website today, you would see that the existing insurance module on the website is already functional. You can use it to help you get started on your insurance planning, figure out potential insurance gaps that you may have and even compare and start buying products. All these can be done on the website, from the comfort of your home.
However, you will also notice that the website is not yet complete. There are three more modules which are “Coming Soon”.
A trio of products are to be launched by MoneyOwl at a later date. They are 1) Wills, 2) Invest and 3) Comprehensive (integrated national schemes). All three products are not launched yet but it’s clear that MoneyOwl intends to go into these other verticals sooner rather than later.
According to MoneyOwl, there are currently four insurers – Aviva, Manulife, Tokio Marine and NTUC Income – whose products are being distributed on the website. A fifth insurer is likely to be added soon. This will expand the scope of products and solutions that MoneyOwl will be able to offer its clients.
MoneyOwl may be quick off the blocks, thanks to taking over the existing DIYInsurance platform and onboarding its team. However, it’s clear to us that they are just getting started in their mission to help people make wise financial decisions easily. More solutions are likely to be introduced in due time as this new joint venture aims to make its mark in Singapore. So, watch this space closely to see what else MoneyOwl has in store.
MoneyOwl is a financial adviser and fund management company licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). MoneyOwl is also a social enterprise. You can find out more about MoneyOwl on their website.