Thriving in the Age of Disruption

Engaging Businesses To Go Beyond Profitability To Greater Value Creation: Mr. Paul Tan

April 27, 2022 Dr. Ramesh Ramachandra & Mr. Paul Tan Season 1 Episode 11
Engaging Businesses To Go Beyond Profitability To Greater Value Creation: Mr. Paul Tan
Thriving in the Age of Disruption
More Info
Thriving in the Age of Disruption
Engaging Businesses To Go Beyond Profitability To Greater Value Creation: Mr. Paul Tan
Apr 27, 2022 Season 1 Episode 11
Dr. Ramesh Ramachandra & Mr. Paul Tan

We believe in the power of business to make a positive impact on environment, society and governance, at all levels of scale.

Are you pushing beyond profitability, to be ahead of the sustainability curve in your mindset and business practices, to create greater value? Join Dr. Ramesh and Mr. Paul Tan, a professional services expert, as they explore Paul's personal story on how being people-oriented and god-fearing have empowered him to build loyal teams, serve long term clients and profitable businesses sustainably.

To learn more about Entrepreneurship with Dr. Ramesh, get your copy of The Big Jump into Entrepreneurship 2.0 on or

Host: Dr. Ramesh Ramachandra, Author, Podcast Host and Founder of Talent Leadership Crucible

Guest Speaker: Mr. Paul Tan, Co-Founder of Kreston ACA PAC

#Entrepreneurship #ProfessionalServices #SingaporeCharteredAccountants #management consultant #financialliteracy #ESG #EnvironmentSocietyGovernance #Sustainability #PaulTan #KrestonACA #Dr.RameshRamachandra #TheBigJumpintoEntrepreneurship2.0 #ISCA #ACCA #ICAEW #SID #ATA #MohamedSalleh #SecondChance

Show Notes Transcript

We believe in the power of business to make a positive impact on environment, society and governance, at all levels of scale.

Are you pushing beyond profitability, to be ahead of the sustainability curve in your mindset and business practices, to create greater value? Join Dr. Ramesh and Mr. Paul Tan, a professional services expert, as they explore Paul's personal story on how being people-oriented and god-fearing have empowered him to build loyal teams, serve long term clients and profitable businesses sustainably.

To learn more about Entrepreneurship with Dr. Ramesh, get your copy of The Big Jump into Entrepreneurship 2.0 on or

Host: Dr. Ramesh Ramachandra, Author, Podcast Host and Founder of Talent Leadership Crucible

Guest Speaker: Mr. Paul Tan, Co-Founder of Kreston ACA PAC

#Entrepreneurship #ProfessionalServices #SingaporeCharteredAccountants #management consultant #financialliteracy #ESG #EnvironmentSocietyGovernance #Sustainability #PaulTan #KrestonACA #Dr.RameshRamachandra #TheBigJumpintoEntrepreneurship2.0 #ISCA #ACCA #ICAEW #SID #ATA #MohamedSalleh #SecondChance

To learn more about Entrepreneurship with Dr. Ramesh, get your copy of The Big Jump into Entrepreneurship 2.0 on or

Host: Dr. Ramesh Ramachandra, Author, Podcast Host and Founder of Talent Leadership Crucible

Guest Speaker: Mr. Paul Tan, Co-Founder of Kreston ACA PAC

#Entrepreneurship #ProfessionalServices #SingaporeCharteredAccountants #management consultant #financialliteracy #ESG #EnvironmentSocietyGovernance #Sustainability #PaulTan #KrestonACA #Dr.RameshRamachandra #TheBigJumpintoEntrepreneurship2.0 #ISCA #ACCA #ICAEW #SID #ATA #MohamedSalleh #SecondChance

Lai Yun  00:04

Hello, and welcome to Thriving in the Age of Disruption with Dr. Ramesh Ramachandra. Today, Dr. Ramesh chats with Mr. Paul Tan, a professional services expert in assurance, taxation, and corporate advisory. Mr. Tan is the co-founder of professional services firm Kreston ACA and has more than 25 years’ experience in audit and assurance, tax advisory, corporate recovery, and mergers and acquisitions. He brings to the table his valuable insights from deep experience through the full business lifecycle of starting, acquiring, managing, growing, and finally selling and investing in multiple businesses.

Dr. Ramesh  00:49

It's my pleasure today to introduce Paul Tan, someone I've known for a very, very long time. I think we met some 20 years ago, on a Singapore Airlines flight to Mauritius. We were both attending an ACCA, which stands for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, global event. He and myself and maybe two others had made up the Singapore delegation. So, we spent about four to five days in Mauritius, got to know each other. He's funny, he says the most outrageous things with a straight face. And he is also a very good professional who has looked after my firms well under his care, because soon after that, I moved most of my business to him. The word that I have for Paul is that he's a visionary. In fact, he's ahead of his time. And he will, of course, refute this description because he's modest at times. What strikes me as being visionary is just the small details that I've known about him and how he has managed his own entrepreneurial journey. I'm excited that he's here. And he's going to share with us about his own journey. Thank you, Paul, for being with us. 

Paul Tan  02:14

I am very far from being a visionary. Many of the decisions, whether I turn left, go straight, turn right, maybe even take a few steps back. Most of the time is not through prior planning, through foresight or vision. Most of the time, if not all the time, it’s forced by circumstance. As in that situation calls for certain decision and I make that decision, I take that path.  

Dr. Ramesh  02:46

But that's an excellent attribute of someone who is entrepreneurial. They are in the thick of the game, whatever game they take on. And then circumstances forced them to adapt. And we may look back now 20 years and say, "Oh, you're a visionary, because of those choices that you made." But I'm sure at that point, it was a matter of almost life and death or like you said, 'circumstances'. “I just had to make that decision.” So, spot on. Really great that you highlight that. I'd like to start off, Paul, having our listeners get to know you. 

Paul Tan  03:23

I would like to describe myself as a people's person. I know it's very cliche, but seriously, I'm a professional, I run an accounting practice. And there is real risk. Many clients do not see that risk, but there's a real risk being a public accountant. How do I mitigate or minimise my risk? I find that the best way is to have very loyal people working with you. So, I identify the talent, I make them feel, I love them, and they love me. And everything else should fall in place. Whether I take a very complex, complicated, even high-risk job engagement sometimes. As long as I know, my people executing it have my interests at heart, have the firm's interests at heart, then at least I know that my risk is already mitigated. It's already minimised in that respect. So, I strongly believe in that. And I have actually lived that since I started my business at a very young age of 29, at least from a public accounting point of view. Not many other public accountants start their own practice on his own. You can find some of them joining as a partner. But no, I started my own practice at 29. That philosophy has served me well, which is choose the right talent, retain them. And everything else will fall in place. Your clients will be taken care of. Your risks will be taken care of.  

Dr. Ramesh  05:14

Wonderful. And then how about you at home?  

Paul Tan  05:19

I've got two sons, my wife, a working fellow professional. I play my part as a daddy to my two sons. They are young adults. And I'm so happy that they have grown up to be fairly fine.  

Dr. Ramesh  05:35

I can hear that you're actually proud of them.  

Paul Tan  05:37

I am. I lived my childhood in a one-room flat. And a one-room flat, for those who don't know, has got no room, basically. The hallway or the walkway is usually dingy, and it smells. But look at where I am now. I live in a semi-detached house. I've come a long way. It's from pure hard work and luck. So, I'm very conscious of my background, where I come from. Many people who know me, say "Hey, Paul! Which batch are you in?" I said, "What do you mean, which batch?" And they just assumed that I’m from RI (Raffles Institution). I said, "No, I'm not from RI." "Then you must be from SJI." I said, "No, I'm not from SJI as well. I’m from St. Gabriel's, have you heard of that school?" And they paused. And most of the time, they have not heard of the school, of which I'm very a proud alumnus. I give back almost every year within my means, if I can, I will help out. 

Dr. Ramesh  06:49

So Paul, I'm curious, how did you become an accountant? I mean, why accounting? 

Paul Tan  06:55

I became an accountant without knowing what bookkeeping is, or an accountant does. My grandfather said, "What do you want to be?" I said, "I don't know." "Do you want to consider being an accountant?" And in those days, he is in the naval base. He worked with Chartered Accountants from England and Wales, the ICAEW, the British. And he finds everybody was very respectful of them. And he just told me that, I should become an accountant. I became an accountant because of that. But I realised when I started my business, and when I had to deal with entrepreneurs, young, old entrepreneurs, bosses who are successful in their own right, but yet, have very little financial literacy. They don’t read. There's a lot of room where I can educate them and (they) become very appreciative. But it's rudimentary to me. I mean, it's quite basic to me.

Paul Tan  07:58

A good friend of mine, a very successful lawyer for many, many years. Until he shared with me, he never paid up his VISA bills, although he has the means in full. And I was flabbergasted. I was like, "Why do you do that? Do you what's the interest that you're paying for not paying up your full offsetting balance?" He said, "Oh, really? I thought the minimum payment is so much. I do see the interest and all that but I never knew that I was paying 20 percent of the outstanding balance." Now they tell me, “Yeah, I will start doing that. I will start paying up in full.” And this is just a simple example.  

Paul Tan  08:48

And if I were to give you another mantra of mine, I always tell all the young people, "Don't spend more than what you earn." I am surprised that many people spend more than what they can commit. That means their monthly instalments alone, their fixed commitment, is more than what they earn. And again, that takes me back and I said, "Huh, how can you live with the kind of lifestyle?" But they don't even think of the consequences. I say, a simple rule of thumb is, spend 80%. If you can spend less, yes, very good. But then only up to 80% of what you earn. And you will live a very stressless financial life. You will be more or less ready for any rainy day. And if you can't even make yourself do that and I'm one of those, frankly, I buy insurance. Even my own insurance agent, financial planner, they call themselves now, even had to sort of slow me down in buying insurance because that's my way of locking up my savings, of forcing myself to save.  

Paul Tan  10:14

So, financial literacy is very important. And I really wish that upon all the young people, at least get that knowledge. And then if you still choose to live a different lifestyle, you do it knowingly. The example I have given you, that lawyer who is in every sense of the word, very educated, very knowledgeable, didn't even know that he's paying so much interest for not paying up all that VISA bills. Many lay people do not even have basic financial literacy. All parents and all youngsters, go and get yourself educated, at least the basics of finance. And then once you get that knowledge, and you choose not to follow that. That's your call. I'm not forcing it down your throat. I say, "Go get yourself that knowledge, it's very important." 

Dr. Ramesh  11:17

How it shows up for me is that if we have financial literacy in today's world of disruption, it's actually a tool for enablement. Because we have no idea how our lives are going to get disrupted with our jobs are going to be impacted.  

Dr. Ramesh  11:33

Paul, there was a story that you have about how you got started at 29 years old in running your own practice. Can you share that with the listeners?  

Paul Tan  11:40

I started off, principally because I thought I was doing very well as an audit. Firstly, assistant supervisor and manager. My boss, my female boss, likes me. Well, at least I think she likes me. And whenever I delivered or completed engagement, after I've done my work, she even either praised or liked the feedback and the findings I've made. But what really irks me at that point in time, and I still can relate to it after 30 years, is that all these good findings, which she agrees with, most of it gets swept under the carpet. It gets not recognised or not implemented after meeting up with the client. So, I said, "If I am gonna live through this”, and I find that that irks me, that bugs me. And so I said, "I might as well then practise on my own and make my own decisions." If I find these new findings, and I choose to not include these findings, maybe because they're not that significant, whatever the case may be, my decisions, at least it is my own decision. And so, that's where I actually started. See, too many people, it is not as much brave as much as it is foolish. I'm only 29 and I do not have connections on my own. And I still take the plunge. Thinking back, I would not encourage myself, my younger self, nor anybody in the same position to say, "Hey, take the plunge." But I did. 

Dr. Ramesh  13:31

Are you serious, Paul, that you would not tell your younger self to take the plunge at 29? Looking back now. 

Paul Tan  13:39

In today's day and age, the answer is 'Yes'. The regulatory environment is very different. The competition is very different. I was quite technically sound. But now if you agree with me or my listeners would agree with me. Knowledge is not very valuable, at least compared to the past, because of what? Of the most people's best friend, Google. You can get more information just by Googling. Knowledge is not as valuable as when I first started out as a professional.  

Dr. Ramesh  14:17

That's a very interesting thought. You're still in the business. Actually, from having started a practice, you went on to be entrepreneurial because there was a wave of consolidation that happened with public accounting firms. And you were part of that whole thing, going from a small firm to a medium-sized firm, then aligning with international partners and then subsequently, selling out to investors. How did that all start? What were the circumstances that got you into that situation? 

Paul Tan  14:47

I started my firm with no clients, no staff. Got in a client and got in one staff. And I grew from that level to a firm of 20 professionals, of which I'm very proud. It took me 10 years or so. Along that journey, there were many offers from my fellow professionals, from richer individuals who says, "Hey, come join me." Or "Let me buy into your firm." I always insisted, “No”, because I was enjoying my little kingdom, calling all the shots. The first opportunity I had in acquiring the firm was, again, circumstantial, rather than seeking outward to grow. But I knew also then that size matters, because in a professional outfit, as much as I try to be an all-rounder to know everything myself, you need some specialisation. And with specialisation, you need to have a certain size.  

Paul Tan  15:55

The first opportunity came about from a good friend whose father is a public accountant and who has got his second stroke. Every time he needs to sign a check, the bank would have to call him to come to the bank. Luckily, the bank branch seems to be doing the same that the office was. When he was offered to me, because I know him from young, from school days. I said, "Uncle, I don't have resources, nor financial resources, nor inclination to want to buy your firm. But I've got friends who have always wanted to expand their business. Let me reach out to them." Then, Uncle Dan said, "Yes, yes, yes. Okay, thank you." So, I got two bids for him. Two of my friends put in the bid. He came back to me before even accepting or not accepting. He said, "Hey, Paul. Do you match any of the bids? I want to sell it to you." I said, "Uncle, I think if I wanted to, I will put in the bids myself." "But I want to sell it to you. I want you to take over. Okay, I tell you what, the lower bids, I give you 10% discount." I said, "Uncle, it's not about the price." "Okay, now you're telling me about the funding. I'll make it easy for you to pay me, the payment terms." Long story short, that was my first acquisition. Professional services, we all have our own style. We all have our own way of managing clients and even staff. When the culture shock came in, it was with a lot of pain, but I managed to stabilise it, with the help of Mandy. Mandy has always been my stalwart, my real right-hand woman. With that, we managed to clear one acquisition. They are quite happy.  

Paul Tan  17:38

And then the next one came about, again, by circumstance. I acquired three small practices, before I was approached to sell my non-assurance by a venture capitalist, by a VC firm. And when that came about, greedily, I said 'Yes' to that selling non-assurance, keeping on the audit practice. If there're any regrets in any of the business decision I made, I would have to say that comes as close to a regret as can be, simply because that team that I brought along, almost 20 of them, some four years ago, today there're only two left in that firm. The others couldn't agree with the culture. And that includes me. It's not a bad firm. But it's just a totally different culture. 

Dr. Ramesh  18:43

I have a similar experience where we did a merger with an organisation which was five times bigger. The culture shock and integrating the teams is the biggest issue. At the end, if you can’t keep the people and integrate them as part of this bigger outfit, you've paid top dollar for nothing.  

Dr. Ramesh  19:07

I have been a client of yours for now 20 years. There was one important piece that I valued, that you never talked down to me as a woman. You treated me and my business and what I was doing seriously, and you gave me very valuable advice. And I appreciated that. And even when you are not available, you always had your right-hand woman Mandy take care of me. I see you as a boss who has empowered women, especially in your firm. Would that be accurate? 

Paul Tan  19:41

I sincerely believe that men are from Mars. And women are from Venus. You can put a same problem in front of a man and a woman. The possible solutions and alternatives of how to solve this issue will be very different. And I enjoyed that diversity, those different views. Even at a board level, I'm a very big advocate of having diversity. And diversity is not just gender as in male, female. An ideal board does not just have different skill sets, different backgrounds, but the diversity should also come from gender and age as well.

Dr. Ramesh  20:28

What I want to talk about now is your experience as a board member, with this one company Second Chance. To share a little bit more about how you've been associated with them, including the work that you do now with their foundation and how that came about. 

Paul Tan  20:46

I have a very strong affinity to Second Chance, for several reasons. One, that was my first listed company, which came on board. And then rest, like in Singapore culture, once you've got some track record and the rest, the credibility factor, not many people will doubt you anymore. The first one is always the most difficult one then and subsequently, it becomes a lot easier. I've been in Second Chance all these years, possibly come into 20 years now. I look at the risk of the board of the company. And how you look at the risk? Is it the nature of business? Is it many other aspects? I look at the main controller, the big boss. If he is, in my opinion, a reasonable person. He does not live a lavish or decadent lifestyle, then naturally for me, the risk would actually be minimised. He's just an ordinary person. And his lifestyle is ordinary. That is the kind of board or listed company that not only would I be happy to be associated with, I'll be happy to invest in as well. So, that's something which I found in Second Chance. For those who don't know, it's Mohamed Salleh. He has just set up a foundation. It's the Mohamed Salleh Foundation. And I think it was very, very noble of him, to set aside a substantial, if not significant amount of his wealth, and bequeathed to the foundation. If you know about foundations and trust, whatever has been bequeathed, the beneficiaries are no longer him or his family. And that's real, not just theoretical.  

Dr. Ramesh  22:50

It's interesting that he actually took on making that significant donation. And how was the family about that? Were they supportive? I think it's great if the family had aligned eventually with discussion, to give up their share of the pie to a greater good.  

Paul Tan  23:10

The end result is, yes, I am very certain, it was not just an easy discussion or decision. It was a long-drawn process. But I'm very happy for his four children and him and his wife, that they decided to do this.  

Dr. Ramesh  23:31

We need more people like Mr. Mohamed Salleh, the founder of Second Chance to be able to set aside their own wealth, and not just looking at passing it on to their family as a key beneficiary. But to actually set it aside for the community so that they can do a bigger impact with the community. So, thank you, Paul, for highlighting this. I think it'll be a great example for other families, as well as corporates to follow.  

Dr. Ramesh  24:03

Paul, I want to also talk about the hat that you wear as an investor. So, can you share what's your new paradigm in terms of investment? 

Paul Tan  24:13

In my career journey, I have acquired and I've sold businesses, my latest and current sort of passion, in terms of my professional, or my business, is essentially M&A, mergers and acquisitions. I'm doing it for my clients, doing it for both acting as a buyer for my clients or acting as a seller for my clients. I find it very fulfilling. The journey to closing is very agonising. Nearly without exceptions, the journey to closure has got many twists and turns. For those who are in this space would just be nodding their heads and saying, "Yes, yes, you're right." I continue to want to do a bit more of an M&A. Not just for myself, but also for my clients, for both buyers and sellers. And the closing, they get a sense of relief, and they get a sense of fulfilment and so do I. So, that's the M&A.  

Paul Tan  25:24

In terms of investments, run-of-the-mill investment as an accountant and accountants don't make very good investors. Accountants don't make very good entrepreneurs. I say it, again, sincerely. 

Dr. Ramesh  25:42

Because you're risk averse? 

Paul Tan  25:44

Yes, yes, because we are trained, we are indoctrinated that, you always weigh your downside. You don't place too much weightage on the upside. You look at the downside and say that "Hey, if the downside is this, in the worst-case scenario, what happens?" And so, many good opportunities have passed by typical accountants. So, I don't make very good investments personally.  

Paul Tan  26:13

But there is a new world order for those who are not aware. And that is the Metaverse, the Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchains. They are all interlinked. They are here. It's still a nascent stage. In the last five years, there are not many governments, public acceptance, but it's gaining a lot of acceptance in the last few months. So, for those who have not looked into this space, I would encourage them to at least read up a little bit. Know it, judge for yourself. Come to a conclusion yourself. But my conclusion is this. Cryptocurrency has a role to play in modern society. Blockchain definitely is an important part of business, going forward. Cryptocurrency has a very big role to play. Whether Metaverse and depending on which aspect of Metaverse and some are saying that "Play to Earn." That's one of the aspects of Metaverse, which has a role to play. I think so too. But yet, I'm not recommending or encouraging people to go into that area because I can't imagine if even a small but yet significant society or aspect of our society, especially the young, those who are in their late teens and young adults, are just gaming away, yet earning. I mean what would this world become, if there are too many people making lifestyle and making a living off of the Metaverse? Which another way of putting it is - Virtual reality is not reality. 

Dr. Ramesh  28:22

I want to talk about another emerging aspect, which is impacting companies and I know that you are someone who, with your firm at least, you're in the forefront with sustainability and ESG compliances. Could you share a little bit with our listeners, the implication of that for companies?  

Paul Tan  28:41

Thank you very much for bringing this up, because this is another pet topic of mine, sustainability. In the past, and probably still, too many people, business entrepreneurs and businessmen. What to them sustainable or how to run or how to build a sustainable business, most of them and even today will say, "Be profitable." But the bigger picture is that being a profitable company need not necessarily lead to being a sustainable company. Profitability is not nicely or narrowly equal to sustainability. We had to break it up into the three acronyms, ESG, it stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. The Governance deals with the profitability part. You must put up enough controls. You must put up enough governance so that the company can actually be run profitably, be run properly with proper governance and with proper controls. So that it will be able to generate some level of respectable profits. So, this is just one aspect. What about the ‘E’ and ‘S’? ‘E’ especially, to many people, it is costs. If you want to take care of the environment, whilst from a company's point of view, it means cost. But you have to because it is sustainable. Without which, then you're just living for your generation, you're just living for today. You're not taking care of the bigger picture, the environment, the space that you are operating in. It's an uphill task.  

Paul Tan  30:38

When I got into this space, in especially the listed company in trying to convince bosses that they have to put in place, and they have to spend some money to take care of the environment, that the business is impacting. Really, it is costs, but it is necessary. You don't say, for example, "I want to start a business, must I buy a computer? Must I invest in a laptop?" That's cost, but that's necessary cost. So, I want entrepreneurs and bosses to see that these are necessary. Don't even talk about the cost benefit. The 'S' part? Again, many people say that "Yeah, when we do budgeting, we set aside 1%, or whatever percentage to give back to society, to give back to the community in terms of charitable costs." And that's obviously good. But the social factor of ESG, encompasses much, much wider than just giving back to society. It deals with diversity, in embracing diversity. Do you have an open policy of recruiting, if you like, LGBTQ, for example. Open policy. People of this inclination join you, you don't know, just straight away to check them. Actually, you'll be more than happy to engage them. And if they're suitable for the role, then, so be it. And don't even hide them in one corner. Announce it happily and proudly to the rest of the team members. I feel that's one of them. But I've also mentioned earlier that I strongly like diverse views or contradictory views. And that comes from the different gender, different age groups. I sincerely again, have been learning from the young, because their values and their outlooks are different. Some of them, I roll my eyes, I will tell you the truth, but I constantly take on board these views. And I have to constantly adjust my expectations and perspective also because of them. So, the word 'sustainable', just reflect on it. What's a sustainable company? What's a sustainable country? What's a sustainable world? It all comes into play nicely. It’s not just about profits. 

Dr. Ramesh  31:47

We've been working with family businesses and because of the work we're doing with a specific family business, who took on this whole agenda of sustainability and ESG. And what they did was that they came up with what they call as the 3 P's to measure their impact in society. The first one was about Planet Renewal, looking at their manufacturing to see where it is consistent with that whole planet renewal, whether they had to change processes, change whatever kind of supply chain that they had. Next, was to look at Prosperity Sharing. And this was interesting, I thought because instead of looking at it as a measure of them as a company just with profitability, but they're focusing on what is the bottom of the pyramid, the last 40%. How are they sharing in the prosperity? How are they moving upwards? And the last one was their commitment to People Development and that every human being, whether they are senior or junior, has an opportunity to develop themselve and to their highest potential.  

Dr. Ramesh  34:33

Paul, can you share with me about your own spiritual journey?  

Paul Tan  34:37

I find that perception of the spiritual side of things changes as you age and not necessarily, you get more religious as you grow older. Most people do, but not necessarily. And it depends on your different experience and different aspects of life that you encounter, in that sense. Just to answer your question, Ramesh, I'm a God-fearing man. That is my tagline in my WhatsApp. And I really, really believe that I fear God more than I love Him. And because I fear Him, I keep myself in check. I think there is a very strong correlation between a God or religion and ethics. And I'm a professional, I'm a public accountant, and I have got ethical codes. And it's aligned with my religion. And I think any with any major religion. That is to do the right thing, when no one is watching you. That's being ethical, that's being religious. And if you're not, let's say religious, or you got no spiritual inclination, then your focus, I feel, will be very different, You will just want the best for yourself. Not even just being selfish, but that's the right thing to do as a businessperson. You think that you have got an idea that your competitors, or your fellow practitioners do not know of. You do it without the consideration of is that good for the society? Is that good for the people? And that, again, goes back to what I hear just now from you, and I love it. This Vietnam company is giving back to society. It's a vicious cycle reversed. Vicious cycle is usually used in a negative way. But the more you want to do for your customers, your clients or the general public, the more business you get. But that's not very convincing. That's not easy to convince bosses. But it is true. You just have to try it. Set aside some time and resources and you'll realise the more you want to do for the community in society, it will bounce back a lot more to you. So, that's me.  

Dr. Ramesh  37:11

Yeah, I love that. I think it's really great that we can have a relationship with God where, in fearing Him, he provides for us that framework to operate within, with integrity and within that ethical framework. 

Paul Tan  37:26

Yeah, you're uncomfortable, right? 

Dr. Ramesh  37:31

Now, the question for you, is it possible to live a simple life? 

Paul Tan  37:34

It depends on the environment that you're living in. I would say that it's easier to live a simple life, not in a modern society. So, if I live in a village with very little access to the Metaverse or the internet. My neighbours are all happy fishing, singing under the coconut tree. That's a happy and simple life. If I'm surrounded by neighbours like that. Unfortunately, if my neighbours have got 82-inch television. And that's again, a real one. My neighbour has an 82-inch television, I'm now aspiring to get the 82-inch television. He drives a Ferrari and he makes it known to the surrounding neighbours, because every morning at least for a good two to three minutes, he will just be warming up his Ferrari and all of us know that he's going off to work because it's so loud. I don't aspire to own a Ferrari. But I would love it if Ramesh wants to present me a Bentley.  

Paul Tan  38:55

Anyway, my point is that, if you live among these people, and I'm a human, I'm not strong enough to say, "So, what? I don't care what my neighbours and my friends are having or aspiring to be. I chose to live a simple life." And even if I'm strong enough, and I’m not, what about my children? What about my spouse? What my immediate family? They would say that "Hey, why don't you want to do better for yourself? Why don't you want to do better for your immediate family members?" So, to answer your question, is it easy to live a simple life? I would say not so. In modern Singapore, it's not easy to live a simple life. I would love to live a simple life. I would love that I am less ambitious, or less greedy but I continue to be. I continue to move my goal posts. Many years ago, I said that if I made my first million, I'll be contented. And I will choose to retire. I've gone past that goal post a few times. So, this is where I am.  

Dr. Ramesh  40:11

So, how would you describe, 'Thriving'?  

Paul Tan  40:15

As you thrive, try to keep a balance. Try to continue to be happy, contented to as much an extent as possible, and then you can continue to thrive. But if you are thriving but you are stressed out, you're unhappy with a lot, your family's not intact. Then, however you want to define your own thriving, that's not thriving to me. 

Dr. Ramesh  40:47

Thank you very much, Paul, for being very generous and sharing with all of us your wisdom, your experience, and your journey. 

Lai Yun  41:03

Thank you, Dr. Ramesh and Mr. Paul Tan for the important reminder that 'Thriving', in all sense of the word includes our financial health. And as Mr. Tan has called out, starts with empowering ourselves with financial literacy. Next up, we have Ms. May Sim, who explores with Dr. Ramesh, “Thriving” from a completely different perspective. Ms. Sim is the region's premier psychological astrologer and is known for her practical and structured approach to applying astrology towards achieving personal purpose and fulfilment. Be sure to join us for our next episode.

Tan Lye Heng Paul 
MBA (University of Birmingham), FCA (Singapore), FCCA (ACCA), ACA (ICAEW), MSID, ATA (Income Tax and GST), PMC 

PAUL TAN holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. He is a practicing member of Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) since 1995. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) since 1996. In 2016, he was admitted as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. He is also a Member of the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), an Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA) for both Income and GST, a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner under Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018 and a Practicing Management Consultant (PMC). 

Paul is a practicing accountant of more than 20 years. He founded CA Trust PAC in 1995. In 2020, he co-founded Kreston ACA PAC (formerly known as Kreston Ardent CAtrust PAC) which is a merger of 2 established and award-winning Singapore public accounting practices namely, Ardent Associate LLP and CA Trust PAC. Kreston ACA, has more than 80 audit professionals and 9 partners who are practicing Singapore Chartered Accountants. Together with its partners and associate firms, Kreston ACA has more than 200 professionals providing a comprehensive suite of corporate services including Incorporation, Corporate Secretarial Services, Accounting, Tax Compliance and Advisory, Internal Audit, Enterprise Risk Management, Sustainability Reporting, Merger & Acquisition advisory, Recruitment, Insurance, Corporate Restructuring and Recovery services, Governance & Compliance matters, etc. 

He currently serves as an independent director on the Boards of SGX public listed companies, namely, Serial System Ltd, Second Chance Properties Ltd and Pollux Properties Ltd. His past directorship in listed companies comprised China Sunsine Chemical Holdings Ltd and Sin Ghee Huat Corporation Ltd. 

As a Practicing Management Consultant, he has led several successful Spring Singapore (now known as Enterprise Singapore) supported business consulting engagements since 2016. He is passionate about business advisory in particular M&A projects where he brings together his accounting, auditing, taxation and consulting experiences in advising on appropriate business valuation, assisting in the preparation of information memorandum, performing due diligence, highlighting potential pitfalls as well as assisting with post M&A activities. 

On the community service front, Paul had served in committees in SAC, ISCA and ACCA. Being a trained and accredited mediator of the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) mediation panel, he has successfully mediated numerous matters on behalf of CASE since 1999. Paul is happily married with 2 grown-up sons.