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Banking on relationships

17 January 2017 / by / 2 comments

Banking on relationships

This senior is rich in his bank, not the money bank but the rela­tion­ship bank. Build­ing pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships is what he is pas­sion­ate about and hopes he can con­vince oth­ers too.

BY: Eleanor Yap

[cap­tion id=“attachment_8360” align=“alignleft” width=“332”] Dex­ter Tai, left, stand­ing beside R M Ger­ald, Carol Kuan (a mem­ber of the rela­tion­ship bank­ing com­mit­tee) and Koh Keow Chai.[/caption]

There is more to life than money. We should all know this, yet, we tend to for­get as we go through our day-​to-​day lives. A reminder would surely help and that is what Dex­ter Tai, 76, is bank­ing on. “Cur­rently, peo­ple are too focused on money and money-​related issues. I feel rela­tion­ships and money should go side-​by-​side, though I think rela­tion­ships are more important.

As much as you are suc­cess­ful in your money bank, you also need to be suc­cess­ful in your rela­tion­ship bank, or else you will fail in life. Rela­tion­ships is about want­ing to be one’s friend, not for ulte­rior motives but to make qual­ity friendships.”

He has coined a term called “rela­tion­ship bank­ing” to help encour­age every­one, includ­ing seniors, to prac­tise the impor­tance of build­ing pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships in their lives using the same prin­ci­ples of earn­ing money, such as time, effort and abil­ity. He shared: “I often meet peo­ple and hope they will poten­tially be my friends. In that, you can then enjoy their com­pany. Rela­tion­ship bank­ing is an instant ben­e­fit, rather than money bank­ing which is when you need to earn it, bank it and spend it.

I spend time with friends and strangers to get to know them so as to accu­mu­late in my rela­tion­ship bank. I use my effort to spend on social inter­ac­tion and with my abil­i­ties, I per­suade peo­ple to be my friends.”

The impe­tus

He didn’t feel this strongly about the impor­tance of rela­tion­ships when he was younger, but it was at the age 13 when his head­mas­ter posed him a piv­otal ques­tion – “is the world bet­ter with you or with­out you?” Dex­ter explained, “I inter­preted that ques­tion that if you want to help your­self, you need to help oth­ers. That was the seed that was planted on rela­tion­ship banking.”

And at the age 18, he went against his dom­i­neer­ing father who wanted to see Dex­ter strive in a pro­fes­sion such as an engi­neer or a doc­tor, pro­fes­sions that par­ents even today envi­sion their chil­dren in. “I didn’t want to go into such a pro­fes­sion and I wasn’t con­fi­dent, how­ever, I agreed to it as it was the only way that my father would finance my edu­ca­tion abroad.”

He went to a uni­ver­sity in Syd­ney to study med­i­cine in hopes of some­day becom­ing a doc­tor, but after a cou­ple of years, he failed. So, to please his father, he went on to yet another “profession” – architecture. How­ever, he quit after only study­ing one term and enrolled into night school to take a cer­tifi­cate course in busi­ness prin­ci­ples. “I felt that I wanted to gain my own stride and con­fi­dence, and that if I stud­ied what I wanted, I would pass.” He did that, achiev­ing this on his own, how­ever, with dire con­se­quences – “my father cut me off and I had to finance myself.”

Despite not hav­ing a degree but just a cer­tifi­cate, he still man­aged to get a job with Xerox as a sales­man when he returned to Sin­ga­pore. “I got that job with­out being a grad­u­ate and along the way, I con­vinced them that you didn’t need a degree to suc­ceed but what was more impor­tant was excelling in your rela­tion­ship bank to serve the cus­tomers and get along with colleagues.”

Be a rela­tion­ship banker

[cap­tion id=“attachment_8361” align=“alignright” width=“377”] A rela­tion­ship bank­ing gathering.[/caption]

Now in his Third Age and find­ing ful­fil­ment in his retire­ment, Dex­ter is more deter­mined than ever to spread the idea of rela­tion­ship bank­ing to oth­ers. “The pur­pose of money is to make use of it and enjoy it to get the ben­e­fit. Unless you get the ben­e­fit, it then becomes use­ful. Peo­ple die with their mil­lions – remem­ber the pop­u­lar say­ing – you can’t take your money with you when you die. Money is often used for mate­ri­al­is­tic purposes.”

He shared that he isn’t a money hater as one might believe and admits that when he was work­ing, he too enjoyed the rewards that money brought him. “I am not say­ing money is bad as you need money for one’s needs and wants. What I am say­ing is it is only half of one’s life; the other half should be about rela­tion­ships.” Hence, the equal por­tions of his term, rela­tion­ship banking.

Dex­ter fur­ther explained how he uses the con­cept of rela­tion­ship bank­ing in his life. He was recently intro­duced to an archi­tec­tural researcher from Ger­many, who was going to be in Sin­ga­pore. He not only wrote to her to ask her if he could pick her up from the air­port, he also invited her to have a meal, and know­ing she is doing research, he even offered to link her up with his archi­tec­tural con­tacts. “It is about giv­ing rela­tion­ships at least the same value as money and a way of life in fam­ily, busi­ness and com­mu­nity, and to live each day with pur­pose and mean­ing.” With soci­ety mov­ing towards a knowledge-​based econ­omy, human tal­ent is becom­ing ever more impor­tant, and that includes build­ing rela­tion­ships. Dexter’s idea of rela­tion­ship bank­ing couldn’t be more opportune.

He has even taken his idea one step fur­ther by start­ing an infor­mal group of rela­tion­ship bankers, mostly seniors, in Decem­ber 2013 that meets once a week at YMCA, where they enjoy each oth­ers’ com­pany and encour­age each other on active age­ing and life­long learn­ing. The response was so pos­i­tive that over the years, about 200 peo­ple have attended one or two meet­ings. And with his pas­sion­ate rela­tion­ship bankers, retirees R M Ger­ald, 76, and Koh Keow Chai, 65, at his side, together they have started a com­mit­tee of six (which this writer is a part of) which meets monthly to see how they can nudge the con­cept fur­ther. “I really want to share the ben­e­fits of rela­tion­ship bank­ing with oth­ers,” said Dex­ter. “It is a life con­cept, which makes no sense in keep­ing it to myself. It should be spread through­out the community.”

He added: “For seniors who have enough money, it is about not chas­ing after more money but focus­ing on the qual­i­ties of life includ­ing active age­ing and life­long learn­ing, and fill­ing up the rela­tion­ship bank. By adding these aspects and vol­un­teer­ing, you ben­e­fit by hav­ing a happy and long life with health, con­fi­dence and hope.” Last year, the group got together to vol­un­teer, bring­ing joy to the elderly at St Vincent’s Home.

If com­ing together, how­ever, isn’t your cup of tea, there is no excuse to incor­po­rat­ing the con­cept of rela­tion­ship bank­ing into your life. Dex­ter sug­gested: “You can agree to meet with one of your friends for cof­fee once a week at the same time and place so you don’t keep remind­ing each other. Invite your fam­ily and friends to drop in at the meet­ing so it would grow fur­ther. This should be more of a long-​term approach than short-​term.”

By build­ing pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships, it increases hap­pi­ness and improves the qual­ity of life of all par­ties, isn’t that an idea worth spread­ing? As Ger­ald put it suc­cinctly: “When­ever we are feel­ing down or cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess, it is the peo­ple around us that make a whole world of dif­fer­ence. Our hearts should be for peo­ple … and not for things.”

SIDE­BOX: My view

Kwek Li Lian, 63, is part of Dexter’s rela­tion­ship bank­ing group. She shared this:

“The way the rela­tion­ship bank­ing plat­form itself has con­tin­ued to take shape from being a mere thought inside someone’s head to mor­ph­ing into some­thing less abstract, becom­ing more tan­gi­ble, more relat­able, is worth celebrating.
Some of us have been ‘acci­den­tal’ prac­ti­tion­ers with­out even know­ing it. It was some­thing we felt needed to be done in the course of liv­ing our lives being a daugh­ter, a sis­ter, a wife and a mother. It seemed right. Call it fil­ial piety, moral oblig­a­tion, a sense of duty even. In each phase of our lives, we plod­ded along doing what was right. Never, or almost never expect­ing any returns. Now there’s a name for it. And it doesn’t sound half bad. Rela­tion­ship bank­ing. You can’t see it. But it’s real. And it’s here to stay. There’s a mes­sage to be told and told hon­ourably, with con­vic­tion. Let’s do it. Together.
Why is this even rel­e­vant in this day and age? This begs the ques­tion why is it not? It is rel­e­vant more so now as we nav­i­gate rela­tion­ships through cyber air­ways. We text instead of see­ing some­one face-​to-​face. We Skype, we What­sApp, we Twit­ter, Face­book­ing as we get through our daily lives, some­times telling com­plete strangers what we had for lunch with an unprece­dented sense of famil­iar­ity as if we have known them for years and they in turn ‘fol­low’ us in our daily blogs. And yet we have no real con­ver­sa­tions with those clos­est to us. Our fam­ily, our friends. Is it eas­ier when you don’t need to engage some­one eye-​to-​eye on a level which con­nects one’s soul to another? Because it is so super­fi­cial, there’s no account­abil­ity. There is no bank­ing. We for­sake that all impor­tant hand­shake, a hug, that gleam in the eye, that child­like bewil­der­ment, that all know­ing smile, that rap­tur­ous laugh­ter. This surely can­not be sub­sti­tuted with a silly emoti­con at the end of a What­sApp mes­sage. Come on. It doesn’t work that way. Real peo­ple need real inter­ac­tion on a daily basis. Rela­tion­ships need sus­te­nance and nur­tur­ing. You can­not do it by remote. No way. No how.”

** For those inter­ested in join­ing the rela­tion­ship bank­ing group, e-​mail Dex­ter at: dextertai07​@​gmail.​com.



This senior is rich in his bank, not the money bank but the relationship bank. Building positive relationships is what he is passionate about and hopes he can convince others too.

 

BY: Eleanor Yap

Dexter Tai, left, standing beside R M Gerald, Carol Kuan (a member of the relationship banking committee) and Koh Keow Chai.

There is more to life than money. We should all know this, yet, we tend to forget as we go through our day-to-day lives. A reminder would surely help and that is what Dexter Tai, 76, is banking on. “Currently, people are too focused on money and money-related issues. I feel relationships and money should go side-by-side, though I think relationships are more important.

“As much as you are successful in your money bank, you also need to be successful in your relationship bank, or else you will fail in life. Relationships is about wanting to be one’s friend, not for ulterior motives but to make quality friendships.”

He has coined a term called “relationship banking” to help encourage everyone, including seniors, to practise the importance of building positive relationships in their lives using the same principles of earning money, such as time, effort and ability. He shared: “I often meet people and hope they will potentially be my friends. In that, you can then enjoy their company. Relationship banking is an instant benefit, rather than money banking which is when you need to earn it, bank it and spend it.

“I spend time with friends and strangers to get to know them so as to accumulate in my relationship bank. I use my effort to spend on social interaction and with my abilities, I persuade people to be my friends.”

 

The impetus

He didn’t feel this strongly about the importance of relationships when he was younger, but it was at the age 13 when his headmaster posed him a pivotal question – “is the world better with you or without you?” Dexter explained, “I interpreted that question that if you want to help yourself, you need to help others. That was the seed that was planted on relationship banking.”

And at the age 18, he went against his domineering father who wanted to see Dexter strive in a profession such as an engineer or a doctor, professions that parents even today envision their children in. “I didn’t want to go into such a profession and I wasn’t confident, however, I agreed to it as it was the only way that my father would finance my education abroad.”

He went to a university in Sydney to study medicine in hopes of someday becoming a doctor, but after a couple of years, he failed. So, to please his father, he went on to yet another “profession” – architecture. However, he quit after only studying one term and enrolled into night school to take a certificate course in business principles. “I felt that I wanted to gain my own stride and confidence, and that if I studied what I wanted, I would pass.” He did that, achieving this on his own, however, with dire consequences – “my father cut me off and I had to finance myself.”

Despite not having a degree but just a certificate, he still managed to get a job with Xerox as a salesman when he returned to Singapore. “I got that job without being a graduate and along the way, I convinced them that you didn’t need a degree to succeed but what was more important was excelling in your relationship bank to serve the customers and get along with colleagues.”

 

Be a relationship banker

A relationship banking gathering.

Now in his Third Age and finding fulfilment in his retirement, Dexter is more determined than ever to spread the idea of relationship banking to others. “The purpose of money is to make use of it and enjoy it to get the benefit. Unless you get the benefit, it then becomes useful. People die with their millions – remember the popular saying – you can’t take your money with you when you die. Money is often used for materialistic purposes.”

He shared that he isn’t a money hater as one might believe and admits that when he was working, he too enjoyed the rewards that money brought him. “I am not saying money is bad as you need money for one’s needs and wants. What I am saying is it is only half of one’s life; the other half should be about relationships.” Hence, the equal portions of his term, relationship banking.

Dexter further explained how he uses the concept of relationship banking in his life. He was recently introduced to an architectural researcher from Germany, who was going to be in Singapore. He not only wrote to her to ask her if he could pick her up from the airport, he also invited her to have a meal, and knowing she is doing research, he even offered to link her up with his architectural contacts. “It is about giving relationships at least the same value as money and a way of life in family, business and community, and to live each day with purpose and meaning.” With society moving towards a knowledge-based economy, human talent is becoming ever more important, and that includes building relationships. Dexter’s idea of relationship banking couldn’t be more opportune.

He has even taken his idea one step further by starting an informal group of relationship bankers, mostly seniors, in December 2013 that meets once a week at YMCA, where they enjoy each others’ company and encourage each other on active ageing and lifelong learning. The response was so positive that over the years, about 200 people have attended one or two meetings. And with his passionate relationship bankers, retirees R M Gerald, 76, and Koh Keow Chai, 65, at his side, together they have started a committee of six (which this writer is a part of) which meets monthly to see how they can nudge the concept further. “I really want to share the benefits of relationship banking with others,” said Dexter. “It is a life concept, which makes no sense in keeping it to myself. It should be spread throughout the community.”

He added: “For seniors who have enough money, it is about not chasing after more money but focusing on the qualities of life including active ageing and lifelong learning, and filling up the relationship bank. By adding these aspects and volunteering, you benefit by having a happy and long life with health, confidence and hope.” Last year, the group got together to volunteer, bringing joy to the elderly at St Vincent’s Home.

If coming together, however, isn’t your cup of tea, there is no excuse to incorporating the concept of relationship banking into your life. Dexter suggested: “You can agree to meet with one of your friends for coffee once a week at the same time and place so you don’t keep reminding each other. Invite your family and friends to drop in at the meeting so it would grow further. This should be more of a long-term approach than short-term.”

By building positive relationships, it increases happiness and improves the quality of life of all parties, isn’t that an idea worth spreading? As Gerald put it succinctly: “Whenever we are feeling down or celebrating success, it is the people around us that make a whole world of difference. Our hearts should be for people … and not for things.”

 

SIDEBOX: My view

Kwek Li Lian, 63, is part of Dexter’s relationship banking group. She shared this:

“The way the relationship banking platform itself has continued to take shape from being a mere thought inside someone’s head to morphing into something less abstract, becoming more tangible, more relatable, is worth celebrating.
Some of us have been ‘accidental’ practitioners without even knowing it. It was something we felt needed to be done in the course of living our lives being a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. It seemed right. Call it filial piety, moral obligation, a sense of duty even. In each phase of our lives, we plodded along doing what was right. Never, or almost never expecting any returns. Now there’s a name for it. And it doesn’t sound half bad. Relationship banking. You can’t see it. But it’s real. And it’s here to stay. There’s a message to be told and told honourably, with conviction. Let’s do it. Together.
Why is this even relevant in this day and age? This begs the question why is it not? It is relevant more so now as we navigate relationships through cyber airways. We text instead of seeing someone face-to-face. We Skype, we WhatsApp, we Twitter, Facebooking as we get through our daily lives, sometimes telling complete strangers what we had for lunch with an unprecedented sense of familiarity as if we have known them for years and they in turn ‘follow’ us in our daily blogs. And yet we have no real conversations with those closest to us. Our family, our friends. Is it easier when you don’t need to engage someone eye-to-eye on a level which connects one’s soul to another? Because it is so superficial, there’s no accountability. There is no banking. We forsake that all important handshake, a hug, that gleam in the eye, that childlike bewilderment, that all knowing smile, that rapturous laughter. This surely cannot be substituted with a silly emoticon at the end of a WhatsApp message. Come on. It doesn’t work that way. Real people need real interaction on a daily basis. Relationships need sustenance and nurturing. You cannot do it by remote. No way. No how.”

 

** For those interested in joining the relationship banking group, e-mail Dexter at: dextertai07@gmail.com.

 


 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Koh Keow Chai says:

    Hi.

    When one makes lots of money, putting them into his Money Bank, one becomes a millionaire, a billionaire and even a zillionaire. Many rich and famous people, unfortunately and sadly, may not be happy in life because of poor levels of relationship with parents, spouse, children, friends, relatives, neighbours or colleagues…..

    When one works hard on his Relationship Bank, his RB account will similarly accumulate and becomes thick. He or she will become a Nillionaire.

    Nillionaire, from the word Nil (zero, nothing) with no physical money to count….but Nillionaires are happy, may have no money in his Money Bank, but have lots of friends.

    I proudly declare I have worked hard on my RB….today I am a Nillionaire !

    Nillion Koh

  2. Ramasamy Mahalingam says:

    RB is very much like a violin: after the sweet music is over, the strings are still attached – a union of souls; a union of hearts; a union of minds; and a union of thoughts. Those union dues are banked in RB.

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