Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Singapore CEO Blog: Mr. Tan Kin Lian

In an earlier post, I asked if anyone knew of business blogs in Singapore. Thanks to Isaak, who referred me to the blog of NTUC Income CEO, Mr. Tan Kin Lian.

Then the librarian in me wondered if it was a spoof (i.e. fake) blog. So I emailed Mr. Tan to be sure. He replied almost immediately (it was around midnight) so I asked if I could ask him a few questions about the blog.

Here's the email interview (posted with permission, and unedited):
When did you start blogging?
March 2005

What made you blog?
I wanted to use this channel to communicate my views about insurance, finance and current affairs in Singapore.

What were your impressions of blogging before you started, and how have they changed?
It is a useful channel. I was quite surprised that it is easy to use.

Do you see Blogging changing the business that you are in?
I hope that many people will read my blog and get to know more about our insurance products,
how we deliver our service and will like to do business with us.

Do you see more insurance agents blogging?
I hope to see more insurance agents use the blog to communicate with their customers.

How do you see your blog developing?
I will continue to post my views. I hope that more people will read it and give their comments. If there is interest, I will continue to use the blog. It does not take much time from me, as I have posted similar views in my organisation's intranet forum.

Do you forsee an official NTUC blog (where customers and staff are exchanging comments and engaging in conversations on the blog)?
We already operate a forum in the Big Trumpet portal that allows people to exchange their views. It has been operating for more than one year. Our Forum platform is for multi-channel communication and is easier to use than the conventional blog
Mr. Tan's blog is the first Singapore business-related blog that I know of. Probably the first, and dare I say, the only one? I stand to be corrected.

If I'm hired as his Blog Consultant, this is what I'd say:
  1. The blog ought to have an 'About Me' section, to explain a bit more why he's blogging and purpose for the site (usually I look for the very first post, if there's no 'About Me' section). After all, not all may know who or what NTUC Income does, or like me, wonder if it's a spoof site. I mean anyone can create a blog and name it after a company.
  2. But I feel it's perfectly Ok to use blogger if there are enough references or information to assure that it's legit.
  3. The blog did not come across as advertising the company's products and services, and it should keep it that way.
  4. Also a excellent move to have the CEO himself blog. Tells a lot about the company.
  5. Perhaps each post could start with a introduction or something, rather than just a blogpost citing the published letter. I've come to expect blogs to "speak to me", i.e. to "hear" a human voice rather than read it like a corporate brochure. While the letters carries his voice, I'd prefer not to read what seems to be like a letter.
I've subscribed to his blog to see what he has to say. It's not everyday that we get to know how a business CEO thinks.

Actually, libraries and Insurance have much in common, but that's a thought for another blog post.

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  1. Anonymous2:24 am

    Great post... especially in the Singapore context. Most of the time, it is quite common for businesses or celebrities to enter the blogosphere and not have a proper grasp of the art of blogging (which goes beyond just posting stuff on your blog).

    You could expand on the critic review portion of your post... there's a lot to say. Heck, you could be a blog critic. :P

  2. Thanks for comments, guys.

    Kevin - I could say more, but there's such thing as overkill, eh?

    Calm one - you're spot on. Well I won't say "stiff" but rather the blog should go beyond just a notice-board. Otherwise, no difference between a blog and the notice board that LTA allows people to post adverts.

  3. had the same question - whether it was a spoof cuz it seemed rather legitimate. :P

    thx for doing the necessary research. tonight can sleep. heh

  4. Anonymous3:09 pm

    You can tell alot about a person's personality and what he is really like by the way one manages a blog. Tan Kin Lian appears to be very disapproving of alternative views. He has deleted many posts from various visitors whom he has deemed to have "spammed" his site. In one of the treads he did not delete , he was on the verge of accusing someone for being a "agent for another insurance company" because he was being asked "difficult" questions about his insurance products.

    I don't think Tan Kin Lian is ready for free discussion. He gives me the impression of someone who is not tolerant of others who don't think like him.

    I'd give a thumbs down for his blog which is just free advertisement space for himself and his insular thinking.

    Anyway, that's my view(which he probably doesn't like and I don't care if he doesn't like my views) and that's his blog(which he can do whatever he wants with). But don't give him too much credit for starting one - it's nothing new and nothing special.

  5. Anonymous3:19 pm

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Anonymous9:41 pm

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Dear "Veronica" & "Those Who Know",
    I've removed your comments for the following reasons:
    1) I'm uncomfortable with what has been implied in your comments. This post is about the blogging efforts of NTUC Income CEO. All discussions should be focused on that, rather than persons or personalities. Personal attacks are not in the spirit of genuine dialogue.

    2) The comments are also increasingly personal and toes the line of slander.

    3) While you have left a name or nickname, it is not linked to a blog or website. They are effectively anonymous. If anyone wishes to respond to you direct for clarifications, that would be impossible. Controversial and subjective views are OK but the commentor must have the courtesy to allow people to know who you are.

    4) Just so you know, while the comments are removed from this post, I still have a record of them. Should I receive any legitimate request for them or any other relevant information or data, I will not hesitate to do so.

    Thank you for dropping by, but this blog is to promote dialogue and intellectual discourse. Any personal views you might have about any person, I would suggest you start your own blog.

    Ivan Chew

  8. Anonymous9:05 pm

    Went to Tan Kin Lian's Blog and he has begun censoring views. Earlier there were visitors who were unhappy with his continued criticism of other financial institution and advisers. Many of these statements appear rather misleading to me because they do not have complete basis. As someone who has some knowledge about financial advisory services ( although I am NOT a financial adviser) , it is worrying that Tan Kin Lian is giving out "advice" and does not appear to be concerned if his advice will end up causing people to lose money. He has often posted in his blog about his predictions regarding how the stock markets will perform - often advising laymen to invest their hard-earned cash into his funds on his prediction that stock markets will rise. I am concerned because the public should be able to have some form of redress if they follow his advice and lose large amounts of their savings instead. I think he should stop asking people to invest based upon his "predictions". Will Tan Kin Lian bear responsibility for those who could be potentially harmed by his advice or will he shrug it off as something he posted "for fun" in his blog??

    I hope people like him can exercise more caution in his postings. I also advice all those who read his advice on his blog to be cautious.

  9. Anonymous9:36 pm

    I absolutely agree with K C Tan's views. I visited this Tan Kin Lian's blog and he has posted several times about the stock market and keeps trying to convince people to buy his funds. I hope he will bear responsibility for his advice when people lose money. I have a feeling that he is trying to profit his own company but this may be at the expense of many innocent people who may not know what they are purchasing and who follow his advice because he is a CEO of a large company. I hope the MAS can look into whether his advice given , if it results in losses by ordinary folk , whether there is any way to seek redress. Can we bring up such instances of poor financial advice to the consumer association of singapore so that they can take action against such irresponsible acts?

  10. Anonymous5:09 pm

    It's all over.

    Straits Times reported his "early" retirement. He had mentioned that he planned to retire at age 62 as per normal but I guess time and tide waits for no man.

    Many people contributed to the growth of NTUC Income - many of the Unions and past & present staff. Without them NTUC Income would not be where it is today. He was at the right place at the right time and he rode the tide well.That's about it.

    I'm sure it was a highly profitable 29 years for him at the company. Too bad he did not take the company to even greater heights as he shoudl have.

    His current attempts to say he was open in his approach in management could not be further from the truth. He hated alternative views -and he demonstrates this so well by his censorship of views in his blog that did not correspond with his.You can read how he put down those who expressed their views in his blog - now he completely censors alternative views and only allows posts which agree with him -why have a blog in this first place if proper discuss is disallowed?

    29 years is way too long anyway. No tears required.

  11. Anonymous9:53 pm

    Agreed. No tears required. He stays in one of the posh areas in seletar and I've seen him being driven around in his large mercedes.

    I am also very concerned about his continous call for people to buy his funds on the basis that they have the lowest charges. This is very inaccurate and misleading.

    Income has one of the lower fund charges BUT we can get funds at even lower front end load at fundsupermart , dollardex. They charge a front-end load of 2.25% and 2.20% for almost all their equity based funds. In fact some of their equity funds are very low cost and charge only 1% bid-offer spread. Of course for the management fees , there is a wide spectrum but I'm sure we can find a number of funds which have low manager fees amongst the many on offer. So what I do not understand is Tan Kin Lian's continued assertion to buy his funds because his funds have lower charges. There are actually many alternatives with even lower fees!

    Lesson: always do your own homework when investing and don't just listen to such so-called "experts"! Never trust them completely! I would like them to bear respnsibility for what they recommend when things go the opposite direction to their predictions. There must be accountability as they are advising people on their hard-earned savings!

  12. Anonymous10:45 pm

    Thanks for the advice - I have stopped visiting Tan Kin Lian's blog since I realised how one-sided his views are. I checked out his site meter the final time I visited and it's been falling very drastically. I think rational people will realised that if you keeping saying everyone else is "bad" and only you are "good" ,it can't always been true and chances are it isn't.

    Hopefully he stops all his baised views or maybe his blog will die a natural death. Unless he can be impartial , I think its good that fewer and fewer people are visiting his blog. That's good news.

  13. ***********************
    PLEASE READ THIS: Further comments in this blog post should be focused on the blogging aspects by Tan Kin Lian, rather than the policies or business practices of NTUC Income or criticisms of personalities. Also, I shall only accept comments from people who can be identified to blogs of their own. I'm concerned that the comments are increasingly personal in nature and veering away from the original context of this post (which is about a CEO blogging, not business practices). If you do not agree with my Comment Policy for this particular post, well you can always start your own blog or post in some other forums.

    I leave the last 5 comments as they are, so that you understand the context of why I'm being more stringent for this post. They could all be from the same person, for all I know :)


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