Paul Ho has put together an adolescent love of finance, a degree in Engineering and a period building software to create a mortgage platform for the digital age.
What’s your story?
An engineer by training, I started in the Telco and mobile networks. I led the team that designed the radio planning for the world’s second 3G network. I participated in the vertical of the Telco industry from Radio to RF Analytics to Operations and Support Systems, Charging as well as across functions from Engineering, Technical sale and proof of concept to Channel and Sales for Emerging Markets. But my first love is still Finance and investment (portfolio management) since my mum brought me to the stock market when I was only 14. Finance is in my blood.
What excites you most about your industry?
Financing is highly regulated and has not changed for many years. We are at the cusp of a seismic shift in financing with the introduction of digital banks. MAS and GovTech in Singapore have done a great job in nudging along the change towards digitisation. We are hopeful that channels such as iCompareLoan can play a big part in automating and enhancing customer engagement and experience. Automate home loan decision making and loan transactions should help financial institutions acquire customers more smoothly. In short, help customers save time by providing informed and automated reports and help FI save money.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Being an engineer by training, I loathe seeing repetitive tasks eating up people’s time. A lot of time is being spent by finding and comparing financing and working through complex MAS regulations. This is a drain on Singapore’s productivity. This also ensures that banks will need to have huge ranks of bankers to serve customers, providing a drag on profitability. Bankers are also saddled with low value repetitive administrative chores. I am not satisfied with the status quo. I believe bankers can do higher value-added work, banks can save costs and customers can get comprehensive info for decision making.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Engineering skills and problem solving are very important as they help me to quantify a problem and develop solutions to solve it. I also dabbled in RF Analytics and Business Intelligence when I helped to manage a .NET project. My previous work in a software company helped tremendously as I also dabbled in creating RF dashboards and XMLs. Coupled with this basic understanding, I went ahead to build software solutions that incorporated almost 300 pages of regulations into Home Loan Report, a mortgage platform that is used by thousands of agents and financial advisors for their clients.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
There isn’t a single best piece of advice, but what I learnt from a school mate is to make your business scalable. It is not always easy to do that in a small market like Singapore and other markets are also fragmented and non homogenous. But I always believe in, just get it out first, then tweak it as you go along. There is no perfect business plan.
Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs inspires me, it is the certainty of death that drives us to excel and cherish the time we have on earth. Never worry about being foolish because it is often foolish people who believe that succeed.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Someone did an analysis using some sort of an empirical model to conclude that many companies that succeed and made it big, often it is timing. The element of luck plays a huge part. We all know that Amazon lost money for more than 10 years and a few times it even almost went bust, but came back from the brink. Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy as they could not deliver the vehicles, but fast forward 1 year, cars began rolling off their China plant and Elon Musk is the richest man on earth.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I could redo it, I would focus on a more simplified strategy of Acquire at Low cost – Improve deal closure rate and better cash flow collection. Too much time is spent on building a vision and too much money is spent doing so. And more money to start off with and accelerating the plan much earlier. But again, hindsight is always 20/20.
How do you unwind?
I watch Toutiao and videos before I sleep. I drink the occasional wine or whisky. Else I drive out for a Kopi-O in the middle of the night at some 24 hours coffee shop. Another thing that I do is, I analyse other people’s websites for the fun of it.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I met a guy who went bankrupt and then bounced back with 2m a year income. This is the moment. Repetition is key. Do fewer things and do them right especially when it comes to revenue generating activities. But this is easier said than done.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Everyone should read Sun Tzu Art of War. It is very useful for business strategy and execution. Another book is Steve Job’s autobiography. You need to follow your heart and intuition, sometimes it is not just about building a perfect MBA style business plan, you need to live your dream and not bother about what others think of you. You need to be foolish.
Shameless plug for your business:
Property agents and Financial Advisors use Home Loan Report https://consultant.icompareloan.com to close deals faster and provide better service to their customers. Home Loan Report is Singapore’s MOST comprehensive Mortgage Platform incorporating 300 pages of regulation so that Agents and advisors do not have to remember the regulations. A Certified FinTech that solves 6 problem statement areas identified within MAS’ 100 problem statements.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?