As the famous saying goes, “the road to success is never easy”. It is usually fraught with setbacks and curveballs that no one can truly prepare for. However, our response will determine whether success is still on the cards.
When it comes to overcoming challenges, few are better placed to give invaluable advice than Conrad Alvin Lim. The founder of Financial$cents had to overcome great adversity, having faced bankruptcy between 2000 and 2007. In spite of this crushing blow, he has recovered well and is now a renowned trader and financial mentor, having made appearances as a speaker for big names like UOB Kay Hian, OCBC Securities, RHB Securities and many more.
Our team at Redbrick caught up with him to get an inside scoop on his personal life, his journey in the trading industry and his thoughts on real estate.
Q: What are some of the milestones you have reached on a personal level?
Conrad: The biggest fear I faced in going independent and moving away from the seminar business is how to keep an education business sustainable without selling.
If there is a major benchmark that I take pride in, it is the reputation that my business had garnered over the past 15 years. Its reputation precedes itself and has led participants to refer their friends and family. A lot of clients that we get have come through word of mouth.
The stigma against financial workshops is typically due to the notion of them as scams. This is why I take great satisfaction from Financial$scents’ good reputation, a company with a lot of integrity and definitely a lot of content.
Q: What does success mean to you?
Conrad: It’s an ongoing journey with every step representing a higher achievement. To me, success is not a goal to be reached, it is an ongoing journey.
I’ve adopted a mantra that is fundamental to how I view success – The day I say I am successful is when I have actually failed, and the day I say I have arrived is when I’m truly lost.
Q: Do you consider yourself successful?
Conrad: No, I’m better off today than I was yesterday, which leads me to another mantra – What are you prepared to do today to make it better than yesterday? What are you prepared to do tomorrow to make it better than today?
If every day is better than today, you are on a path of achieving and doing more.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
Conrad: I like to swim because swimming is where it is a nice quiet time where I can focus on my thoughts and inner feelings.
The only thing you can do while swimming is to count the laps, which is very therapeutic as it clears the mind. I’m forced to have time by myself when I swim, as I cannot use my mobile phone or laptop, thus freeing me from other distractions.
Apart from that, I like to cook, which is another discipline.
I love the aspect of cooking because you can be experimental and creative about it. Having been in the creative industry many years ago, it is still part of me and I find creativity in cooking.
Q: What is one interesting fact about yourself that people don’t usually know?
Conrad: I read about Steve Job’s speech that he made at Stanford University.
Out of the entire speech, one thing stood out for me.
“…it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
This is something I can attest to.
One could say I wasted 20 years of my life in the film and media industry or accuse me of wasting my money and resources learning about creative software and crafts.
But those experiences back then stand me in good stead as an educator. Today, I am able to put these skillsets into good use when I animate my slides, articulate my thoughts into words and write, which is something the creative industry requires.
Upon looking back, all the dots have not been a waste of time, because they have led me to where I am today. All my failures in my past have been a learning lesson and I no longer fear failure.
I do believe there are more failures to come, and I look forward to them as I know every one of them is a learning lesson.
Q: What prompted you to start a company? And why Financial$cents?
Conrad: Having been in the teaching industry for 12-13 years, I decided that I had enough of the seminar business and I didn’t want to sell to make a living.
So I walked away from the parent company managing my events, to start Financial$cents, with a very different approach to educating the public on finance and economics.
Financial$cents is about breaking down financial ignorance and naivety to becoming more aware of the responsibilities and liabilities with regard to anything to do with your money.
Be it in the financial market when you deal with stocks, shares and commodities, the property market or even insurance.
It’s meant to empower and educate individuals on how to make their money work harder, safer and more efficiently.
Q: How do you maintain your appeal to your audience?
Conrad: By providing solid content. Every article and poster that I produce are very meaningful content. It is information and content that the reader or user can relate to in their everyday life.
To put it simply, I provide my readers with relevant essential tools.
Q: What are some of the important values that you pride your company with?
Conrad: Integrity, exceeding expectations and a no-nonsense approach.
Q: What kind of advice would you give to new homeowners and aspiring property investors?
Conrad: I’d advise them to buy what they need and not what they want.
Most people buy houses based on what they want. They don’t plan, they don’t do their research and many a times they are swayed by the sales person.
But this is not realistic. So often I’ve heard people lament after they move in- “If I knew, I would have done this differently”.
So I would advise people to contemplate long and hard to determine if the property is something they truly need, or if it’s just a dream of theirs. And please note that buying a property because you need to impress people is not a legitimate or necessary need.
Q: What do you look out for when searching for a property?
Conrad: First and foremost, it is the view. The view is very important for me and that’s why I bought my current apartment.
Being a writer, wide open spaces inspire me. It is not easy being a writer if you’re in a 3-room HDB flat that’s surrounded by walls.
So personally, the view is a priority and everything else is secondary.
One issue that I find with modern homes are that the kitchens are getting too small. And I think the COVID19 lockdown has made many realize that we need a larger kitchen space.
Designers have to realize that cooking is a regular occurrence for most households. Perhaps the designers are young people who have yet to start a family and they are designing the space based on what they feel is reasonable. So, I think adopting a forward-looking approach to design and considering the space required for a family of 3-4 is a way of improvement.
For more information about Conrad Alvin Lim’s financial seminars, check out his website at https://www.financialscents.com/