Wibowo Santoso first arrived in Singapore more than 13 years ago after his university education in Japan whilst Vanessa came earlier in 1993 to further her Accountancy studies. IndoConnect asked this dynamic diaspora duo about their fresh start here and what led them to do what they are doing now – a flourishing regional medical risk management practice serving primarily inbound Indonesian high net-worth individuals.
Santoso hailed from Malang, whilst Vanessa was from Bandung. Their lives here mirror many Singaporeans’ – work on weekdays; church and chill outs on weekends. Orchard Road became not just a place for them to chill out, it is also a place of business significance where they provide both professional advice and private client medical concierge services. Their Indonesian clients, as part of their medical tourism routines, would throng Singapore’s famous shopping belt with medical appointments pre-booked by them at Mt Elizabeth/Gleneagles Hospital and interspersed with intense “shopping therapies”.
Many years back, as with life’s many unmerited blessings, they chanced upon this niche business when Singapore’s financial advisory industry was in its nascent stage. As providence has it, something led to this happening. Santoso shared: “Vanessa’s mum fell ill back then in Bandung. She was in and out the hospital. We finally bit the bullet and sent her to Singapore for treatment.” Santoso was then a Sales Executive in a Japanese company, whilst Vanessa was juggling her professional qualification studies and accounting work.
Recounting their morass past, Santoso alluded: “After Vanessa’s mum arrived in Singapore, we realized that she needed more treatments than expected. Vanessa quit her job to focus on care-giving. It was a tough decision. Notably, we were just married, financially impoverished and obligated to a new home mortgage. Worse still, her mum didn’t have a medical insurance plan; she was both cost conscious and totally lost faith in insurance due to bad prior experiences. The mounting medical bills soon depleted both our savings and morale. We realized belatedly that trying to nickel and dime on medical insurance premium was foolishness, and living without medical insurance was akin to financial suicide!”
“I’ve worked with Santoso and Vanessa for many years in managing patients with gynecological problems…Their singular focus is on getting the best possible care for their clients… It’s an honor for me to work with them.”
Prof Dr Tham Kok Fun, Sr Consultant
The turning point came when Vanessa was offered a position in a leading financial advisory firm in Singapore. Being shaped by the manifestly ill-perception of the industry back then, she declined the initial offer. However, after much needed clarification, she soon decided resolutely on her life-changing journey. Time flew by. This year, Vanessa will celebrate her tenth anniversary in the practice – one that has blessed her beyond financial success! As for Santoso, he hopped on to the bandwagon not long after Vanessa’s business flourished. “Our clients enjoy great client servicing deals from us – buy one advisor and get one free,” said Vanessa good-humoredly.
Santoso expressed in earnest: “Singapore is our second home. We used to say that Singapore’s cost of living was higher than in Indonesia. As years go by, both have equaled, and Indonesia’s treatment costs are now inflating phenomenally. We’ve seen seemingly rich people without medical insurances become bankrupt due to debilitating illnesses.” The logical approach – according to Mr Eko Syatia Negara, the couple’s long-time loyalist client who runs family businesses in Jakarta – is to “enjoy Singapore’s excellent medical services whilst containing cost outlays by owning a global medical insurance plan”. At Santoso’s good advice, Mr Eko owns AXA’s GlobalCare Health plans. They offer comprehensive inpatient hospital coverage and outpatient specialist care during their frequent Singapore visits. All these are hedged with an insurance premium at a mere token of the expenses he would otherwise pay. Mr Eko is the couple’s special evangelist and has referred almost his entire clan of relatives to them.
Vanessa added, “Medical insurance plans available in Singapore are more advanced, covering both inpatient and outpatient care. The latter doesn’t require overnight stays. For example, if one has a persistent stomach ache, he can seek specialist consultations and claim under his outpatient benefits. A wide range of medical insurance plans are available for foreigners who don’t need to live in Singapore”. Santoso offered this advice to Indonesians when selecting a country for treatment, “Do your necessary research. Ask for referrals from credible sources. Importantly, select doctors who don’t merely possess medical credentials but also excel in patients’ interests”.
The couple’s business services extend beyond their call of duty. Through the years, they have also established a network of reliable medical experts whom they recommend independently to their preferred clients, purely on the doctors’ professional merits. One of them, Professor Doctor Tham Kok Fun – a well-known Senior Consultant Gynecological Surgeon and Oncologist who operates out of Gleneagles Hospital – has this to say about this couple: “I’ve worked with Santoso and Vanessa for many years in managing patients with gynecological problems. They’re very personable people who do their best. Their singular focus is on getting the best possible care for their clients and they often go out of their way to achieve their goal. They’re able to provide professional assistance of the highest standard. It’s an honor for me to work with them.”
In ending, Santoso and Vanessa have this advice: “It’s expensive to fall sick, be it in Singapore, Indonesia or any part of the world. Buying insurance does not make a person bankrupt, but many people were made bankrupt because they don’t have insurance. It’s not about buying a product; it’s about making wise life decisions. Zig Ziglar said that ‘Every CHOICE you make has an end RESULT’. We have done our planning. Have you?”
The above pointers should not be construed as advice universally applicable as financial needs of individuals do differ. For a complimentary first financial advisory consultation, kindly contact them at WealthExperts4u@gmail.com.