What we learnt from our 'date' with one of Singapore’s oldest matchmaking agencies

GoodLuck Friends Centre founder Horatio Li. (PHOTO: Wan Ting Koh /  Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

While love, trust and passion may be important for a lasting relationship, Singaporeans still look at a person’s payslip before saying “I do”.

Businessman Horatio Li can attest to this. After all, he’s been running a matchmaking agency in Singapore for nearly 40 years. GoodLuck Friends Centre was formed in 1979 and, in its early years, Li found it difficult to arrange successful matches for male clients who belonged to the low-income group.

“At the time, most of them had poor education, income not so good and jobs not so good,” said the 70-year-old, during a recent interview with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore at his office in Parklane Mall.

Li initially ran his business from home before renting an office at Rochor Centre. He moved GoodLuck to its current location in 1990. In 1989, the business gained exposure through more advertising and began to receive more clients with bigger pay cheques. Li was also able to find more successful matches. It was also during this time that Li decided to set a number of requirements for his clients, some of which could potentially raise a few eyebrows.

For instance, Li no longer accepts male clients who earn less than $3,000 a month. He also ensures that these men have social status and are well-educated. While these requirements may seem materialistic, Li sees them as “realistic”. 

“They say, ‘Mr Li, you don’t take those with income $3,000 and below? I pity them’,” said Li, recounting his experience receiving feedback from some female clients. “‘Those people I rejected, I’ll give you free, you want or not?'” said Li, “They will say, ‘No’. In their heart, they are kind. But when it comes to actual action, they don’t want.”

About 70 per cent of the male clients he currently has earn an average monthly income of around $5,000. One of them even earns $10,000 a month, added Li.

Horatio Li’s wall of fame shows news articles collected over the years. (Photo by Wan Ting Koh/ Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

“These people are very busy men, once they reach the stage where they are financially stable, they come to me,” he said.

When it comes to women, however, Li is not as particular about their level of education or salary. What is most important to him is their appearance – specifically, someone who is “pleasant-looking”, with a  “slim figure” and “long hair”. Li set these criteria for his women clients based on what he refers to as the “demands of society”.

Today, GoodLuck Friends Centre has 946 male clients waiting to be matched, most of whom desire female partners with characteristics reflected in Li’s requirements. The agency also has 875 female clients awaiting matches, most of whom look for men with financial power. To date, the agency has clocked a total of 18,721 clients, according to Li.

While some of his requirements may seem superficial, age is not an important factor for the clients he accepts. The men registered under the agency are aged between 25 and 73 years while the women are between 19 and 66. Most of the men are in their 40s while the majority of women are in their 30s. 

Finding love at GoodLuck Friends Centre comes with a price: Li’s fee for his matchmaking services. While he refused to reveal figures, he mentioned that his fees are lower than many other matchmaking agencies in Singapore. That said, Li said he does receive hefty tips from clients who have achieved successful matches.

He cited a mother who gave him $2,000 after his daughter found a match. Another divorced woman gave him $5,000 along with these words, “Mr Li you take me from hell to heaven. Last time my husband scold me, beat me up. Now this husband loves me so much.”

“When I see this, it’s not a money concern, they’re very happy. That’s why I say I do it for job satisfaction,” he said.

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