Collin Chiew started out as a one-man show, turned his business into a company of 30 staff, and got acquired by international company Aon Hewitt.
Contributed By Bernie Guan
In 2007, Collin Chiew was the owner of an insurance broking firm, Conrad & Sons Risk Specialists. He was experiencing several waves of financial turbulence when a miracle turned his struggling firm around.
A multinational company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, called him to explore the possibility of acquiring his company. Chiew, who has “more than 20 years of experience consulting with companies in financial services, telecommunications, energy and technologies,” was surprised by the offer. Negotiations ensued between the two parties and the multi-million dollar acquisition was eventually sealed.
Aon Consulting (now Aon Hewitt), part of Aon Corporation, offered Chiew “the position of managing director of the firm and a well-compensated salary.”
Aon Hewitt is a leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital consulting. As an institution—which commissioned a unique study exploring the evolving role and impact of the human resource function—Aon Hewitt employs more than 59,000 employees worldwide, and delivers distinctive client value through innovative and effective risk management and workforce productivity solutions. Additionally, its industry-leading global resources and technical expertise are delivered locally through more than 500 offices in more than 120 countries around the globe.
Being part of Aon Hewitt, named the world’s best broker by Euromoney magazine’s Insurance Survey in 2008, 2009 and 2010, has been nothing short of amazing, attests Chiew. Apart from seeing his income increase manifold, he has successfully led his Aon Hewitt Singapore team through bumps in the financial services sector. His portfolio spans managing multi-national corporate sales, client servicing and overseeing the administrative structure and operational efficiency of his organization.
It has been four years since the acquisition, and Chiew has not looked back. It was that “deep sense of knowing, and peace that came upon me coupled with that faith” that kept him secure as he walked through the maze of corporate courtship.
While Chiew adapted to his new environment, he worked to leverage on Aon Hewitt’s strong brand and available expertise. He is required to adhere to the numerous layers of management controls that guide business processes in an MNC that has US$4.3 billion in combined revenue, but Chiew approaches it with the same discipline he used to build up his insurance broking firm “from a one-man setup to a fully-integrated company with 30 staff.”
Being part of Aon Corporation can be exciting. In 2009, Aon Hewitt partnered with Manchester United. “It brought about a brilliant outcome: a four-year Manchester United Jersey sponsorship unveiled in the recently concluded Barclays Premier League season 2010-2011,” says Chiew.
Last month, he hosted Aon Hewitt’s president and chief executive officer Greg Case. Their brief one-hour exchange left a deep impression in Chiew’s hearts and it left him wanting “to be an influence in the marketplace, touching more lives” as he navigates through the financial terrain.
PROSPERING IN ALL THINGS
Chiew, who holds an executive master of business administration degree from Helsinki School of Economics, declares that “God is also a provider of solutions to the issues of risk that people face today.” He sees that his staff are endowed with God’s wisdom and favor as they provide solutions to clients’ needs.
As leader, Chiew mentors and coaches his staff on “leadership, management, training and staff matters, undergirded by biblical principles and values.”
“We are to be a blessing to all concerned, be it our employees, clients, vendors, service providers or the marketplace,” he says.
Ultimately, Chiew believes it is “important to know the call of God upon your life.” As it is with Him that “you can fulfill the call no matter what you do, whether you’re a salaried worker, an employee or a business owner.”
In the same breath, he admits that “the call of God may require you to go through pain, and discomforts are inevitable.” It is a truth Chiew has lived out.
All through his life, Chiew always saw himself as an entrepreneur. In 1996, he and his then-girlfriend, Suzanne (now wife), enrolled in City Harvest Bible Training Centre (now School Of Theology). They married in 1997 after completing Bible school.
Chiew, who had been an insurance agent since 1988, was the sole breadwinner of his family as Suzanne had quit teaching. At that time, the couple was saddled with debt due to the cost of poor investment decisions. In spite of the hardships, Chiew never gave up, even in moments when he felt inadequate being the sole provider. Instead, he persisted by applying biblical principles to every decision and challenge.
Soon, his insurance business began to grow exponentially. From a revenue base of S$50,000 in 1999, he diversified his business, and hit a turnover of S$2 million at the end of 2006. Chiew’s agency eventually obtained a license to operate as an insurance broking firm in 2004.
Chiew’s journey to financial freedom was not easy. In the early years, home was a “rented three-room HDB flat with minimal furnishings” for the couple and their first-born son. While the family put up with the initial lack of security, Chiew bit the bullet to beat the odds to emerge victorious after years of onslaught and stress. Now, the Chiews live comfortably with their four children, Isaac, 12, Isabelle, 10, Ivan, 8 and Ivette, 5, in a fully-owned private property.
Even though the tide has turned for the close-knit family, money is not wasted on extravagant living. The father of four enjoys the simple things in life, like listening to music, cooking, life coaching and mentoring, reading and gym workouts. He enjoys spending time with his family at the movies, at the pool, or at the beach during holidays. Chiew maintains that he teaches his children financial basics.
“We teach them that what we sow, we reap, so that they think about what they should be sowing into.” Chiew and his wife wish to “prepare our children and help them to learn to distinguish between their needs and wants.”
With that the Chiew kids learn to sow into savings and giving, either in the form of tithes, offerings or miscellaneous acts of charity. “We also teach them about budgeting so that they know how to spend their pocket money.”
Wisdom and knowledge is something this father is determined to pass on to his children. “If they want to buy a toy, it can come out of their savings; they have to consider their reasons for buying it.”