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How a fresh start turned this fresh graduate’s life around

They say the world is full of opportunities once you graduate from college, that when you set foot in the real world, many doors will start opening as a new chapter of your life unfolds. However, this is not quite the reality that most fresh graduates face today. More often than not, they encounter issues of underemployment and limited employment opportunities. And with the pandemic still underfoot causing the highest unemployment rate in years, many are left wondering about their chances in the job market amidst the new normal.

Ermel Abonales, a recent Public Administration graduate from Davao City, didn’t allow these hurdles to stop him from going after his dreams. The 22-year-old took matters into his own hands and began a new journey to a promising future by becoming an insurance entrepreneur as a financial advisor of AIA Philam Life, which gave him the opportunity to have a better life for his family. 

However, the path to success wasn’t easy. “My family is from the Bagobo tribe and I have nine siblings. My grandfather didn’t want me to continue my schooling because he needed me to help till our rice field,” he recalls. “But because of my desire to finish college, I got multiple jobs to pay for my education. I even became a houseboy and a call center agent at some point.” Through sheer hard work and determination, he landed a scholarship which supported his college education, while at the same time taking on leadership roles in university. “It wasn’t easy but I learned how to manage my time. There were many instances I was on the verge of losing hope but it was too early for me to give up,” he added. 

Ermel dreamt of serving people and initially wanted to go into public service as soon as he finished college, but things didn't go his way. This decision to become a financial advisor came at a turning point in his life when his grandfather died from a long-term illness. Coming from a poor family, they didn’t have much except for a rice field which they had to mortgage to buy medicine and pay their debts. The episode frustrated Ermel, and driven by his helplessness, he resolved to be part of a financial institution so he can do his share in addressing financial illiteracy among Filipinos, somehow still aligned with his dream of serving people.

 

The Road to Success

 

After his graduation from college, Ermel attended a business opportunity program hosted by AIA Philam Life. “I realized being in the insurance industry is a noble profession which can make a big impact on a person’s life, where one truly feels they can make a remarkable difference,” he said. “As a Financial Advisor of AIA Philam Life, I was able to embark on a meaningful entrepreneurial journey,” Ermel shares.

As a fresh graduate without the benefit of a strong network, he relied on an ambush approach to build his clientele. “For example, I will go to the public market then buy something from a business owner. I ask how business is doing and lead to inquiring about how they will protect their business from life's uncertainties. That's the time I pull up my income protection concept which shows how protecting yourself also protects your business.” This drove him to be one of the top rookies of AIA Philam Life. 

But more than hitting his business targets, Ermel sees this as an opportunity to advocate protection and save lives. “By being insured, you have the ability to prepare for anything that may happen in the future—be it illness, hospitalization, retirement, or even death. You can think of it as fool-proof protection for you and your loved ones, much like how a body armor protects a soldier during the most threatening situations. It can also help support housing payments and current living expenses and help fund the college education of your children or grandchildren. Life insurance provides cash when it's needed the most.”

 

A Rewarding Business

 

In less than a year, Ermel was able to build a house for his family and own his first car. And with the entrepreneurial spirit cultivated by his role as a Financial Advisor, he was encouraged to open a chicken restaurant with his family from his earnings. He continues to be inspired by AIA Philam Life’s mission to race against risk and protect every Filipino family. He hopes to become a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), the internationally recognized standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services business, and one of the top agency leaders in the country, managing his own team of insurance entrepreneurs. “I am confident in the direction that the brand is taking. And guided by our purpose and mission, I know that it will help me achieve my dreams and goals in life.”

He is grateful he found a business which is both financially rewarding and emotionally fulfilling, driven by a sense of purpose, all while making his dreams come true. “I once aspired to become a barangay captain because I really wanted to help people with passion and firm governance, but this career has allowed me to serve others through our company’s mission to save lives.”

Ermel encourages fresh graduates like him to build a fulfilling business with AIA Philam Life and educate more Filipinos in protecting themselves, managing their finances, and in the end, helping them live healthier, longer, and better lives. “They need someone to talk to who can make them understand the importance of getting insured. I think it’s time to educate people and promote understanding about protecting themselves from life’s many uncertainties. What will happen in the future is unpredictable. An insurance entrepreneur may make a positive difference in a client's life without noticing he is also changing and improving his standard of living while achieving his personal goals and desires. Take it from me.”

AIA Philam Life welcomes aspiring insurance entrepreneurs to be part of their purpose-driven business that will give them the power to change their lives and the lives of others. With AIA Philam Life’s solid franchise business model, future financial advisors can leverage on their strong brand, world-class training, and state-of-the-art digital platforms that allow them to provide seamless service to their clients so they can live healthier, longer, and better lives.

Click here to know more about becoming an AIA Philam Life insurance entrepreneur and join the Business Opportunity Program. For more information on AIA Philam Life, check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AIAPhilamLife/, email philamlife@aia.com or call (02)8528-2000.

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