Meeting with Dexter Tai: Relationship Banking

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The Introduction

During my search for my residency, I came across an organisation called A Good Space which provides a platform and venue for changemakers from different fields to champion social causes that they are passionate about. I contacted the organisation and was introduced to some of their changemakers whom are involved with ground-up initiatives pertaining to ageing and intergenerational bonding. The first one I met was Dexter Tai. He is 78 years old and retired but he is keeping himself busier than ever. 

Relationship Banking Vs Money Banking

Dexter is a strong advocate for “relationship banking”, a term coined by him. He mentioned that in life there are 2 banks: Money Bank and Relationship Bank. However, most people tend to neglect the latter one. Relationship banking is a life concept where one balances money-making and relationship-building for the happiness and productivity of oneself and the community. He feels that currently there is an overemphasis on money and the benefits money can bring. This leads to people nowadays becoming less empathetic and less caring as they do not spend time building meaningful relationships and they forgot about the important things in life. Dexter shared with me how he left a high paying job in his 50s as he did not support how the company shortchange its customers with inferior services. Dexter and his group of relationship banker believe that the key to true happiness is through helping others, seeing others’ needs before their own and spending quality time with people. Every Monday and Friday, the group organises a gathering where seniors and youths can come together to share tips, information, wisdom or just chat and have a good time with each other. The aim is to help people find an ethical meaning in life beyond materialism and push the boundaries of altruism. The ultimate goal is to create a village of like-minded people to live with health, confidence and hope.   

Our meeting at Lowercase at McNally Campus

"Money without service is work with no soul; relationships without work is life with no goal." 

Dexter Tai

After explaining to Dexter that I am doing my research during this semester break for my Masters project, he provided me a list of selected readings that he thought would be useful for me. It was very nice of him to always put others’ needs in front of his. I would definitely find the time to go through these readings. 


  • Susan Pinker’s “The Village Effect”: active social lide is needed for learning, happiness, resilience, and longevity.
  • Harvard Medical School’s 75-Year study on what makes people happy in the long term.
  • Eric Barker’s four sources of happiness: Purpose, Perspective, People and Play.
  • The Dalai Lama: “Ourprime purpose in this life is to help others.”
  • B.F Atherton: “Is the world better off with you in it, or without you?”
An article on Dexter's work with Boys' Brigade in 1997

Final Thoughts

After listening to Dexter share about his life story and his vision, he gave me a deeper understanding how important it is to invest in building relationships. Building relationships means making friends and strengthening family bonds, not for ulterior motives. Dexter showed me that building a relationship is not as difficult as it seems, but people are just afraid to take the first step. I wish Dexter and his team all the best in continuing to grow their team of relationship bankers and share their message to a greater audience.