Protect yourself to protect your loved ones

  • Business
  • Saturday, 04 Dec 2010

MY son said to me while I was driving, Daddy, please drive properly. Use both your hands!

I had momentarily taken my left hand off the steering wheel and was placing it on the arm rest. I was pleasantly surprised by his sensible remark and promptly obeyed.

It seemed like only yesterday that he was born, and then in the blink of an eye, my son has grown up!

It was more than three years ago when I first came to Malaysia to work. At that time, my wife had just conceived our first child, a boy.

Today, besides being a chatty and active two-and-a-half year old boy, he is even giving me tips on safe driving! I wonder where he learnt such things, perhaps from his nursery school.

Engage any parents in a conversation regarding their children and you will hear the excitement in their voice and see the sparkle in their eyes. And what would parents do to protect their children? Just about everything and anything!

Such commitment is perfectly understandable.

Someone recently pointed out an in-flight safety procedure that seems to contradict the parental instinct.

In one segment of the standard flight safety video, passengers are informed that in the case of an emergency, oxygen masks will automatically drop from the overhead compartment of the cabin. Adults who are travelling with young children are instructed to attend to themselves first before helping the children.

One would think the adult should assist the child first. But this procedure is exactly what is needed to give children the best chance of surviving an emergency.

The adults have to remain conscious and alert to be able to help the children and ensure their safety.

So to help the kids, adults must first help themselves!

This concept illustrates an important concept of wealth management protecting ourselves in order to provide for our children.

When my children were born, I bought additional insurance policies. One would have thought that these were all child-specific policies. Well, yes and no.

Yes, I bought insurance covering health, critical illness, etc, for my children. And no, I did not just buy policies for them, but more importantly, I bought additional life insurance policies for my wife and I.

Why? It is based on the same principle as the oxygen mask safety procedure. In order to ensure that children will be provided for financially, it is vital that parents first protect their income streams, before they can hope to ensure their children's financial safety.

Some years back, a friend's parents were unfortunately involved in a fatal road accident.

Bearing the grief of losing loved ones was significant but at least she had no financial difficulties to worry about as her parents had the whole family and assets well insured.

For the more affluent parents of today, there is also a conscious effort to provide their children with an early head-start in life. This can take the form of funds for post-graduate studies, or for the down-payment for their child's first car or house.

Till today, my parents still say that they are saving the allowance I give them on my behalf!

I certainly would want to provide my children with the very best healthcare and education. And this means that I have to first take care of myself and my wife too.

So the next time you hear the safety flight instructions, remember that they are right. A conscious parent can do a lot more for his/her child than an unconscious one.

So whenever I drive now, I am reminded of my son's comment to drive safely by keeping both hands on the wheel. Ensuring my own safety is the first step in establishing the financial security for my family and loved ones.

> Tay is senior vice-president and senior head of UOB's personal financial services division.

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