CKW Financial Group founders (from left) Carl Choy, Lynne Kinney and Ronald "Buzz" Wo CKW FINANCIAL GROUP PHOTO

CKW Financial Group founders (from left) Carl Choy, Lynne Kinney and Ronald “Buzz” Wo CKW FINANCIAL GROUP PHOTO

For the second year in a row, downtown Honolulu-based in vestment firm CKW Financial Group has been named one of this year’s Financial Times‘ 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers — making it the only one in the state to earn a spot on the list.

The annual list evaluates firms based on requirements that include growth rate, compliance records and online accessibility — and recognizes the top performers. CKW Financial Group, which was founded in 2009 by Carl Choy, Lynne Kinney and Ronald “Buzz” Wo, provides wealth advisory and investment consulting to individuals as well as institutions.

As Choy puts it, “Money is supposed to go to work so you don’t have to work so hard.”

But for novice investors, getting your money to work for you can be overwhelming. Here, CKW Financial Group shares some basic investment tips for beginners.

Start investing as soon as you receive your first paycheck

Other than allowing your money to grow over a period of years, there is another advantage to start socking away your money as early as possible: According to CKW advisers, it’s the easiest time to start doing so.

“The reason they should do that as soon as they get a paycheck is because they have never been used to this paycheck,” Choy says. “So all of the money is new — it’s not like they’ve built a habit of being accustomed to this money when they first get this paycheck; they were getting nothing before.”

The first step, Choy recommends, is to open a retirement fund. From there, invest in stocks.

For first-time stock investors, they recommend purchasing something called ACWI (more on that soon).

Maintain a balanced portfolio

CKW focuses on establishing balanced portfolios for their clients — ones that are filled with both stocks and bonds.

“For longer-term investors … a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds has fewer downside risks than buying all bonds,” Choy explains.

It’s also important to keep a diversified set of stocks — meaning that you should aim to own a broad set of assets rather than buying individual stocks. This should include a collection of varied U.S. stocks, as well as diversification across stocks from international and emerging markets.

“People can lose their money if they are not participating in the total market,” Kinney explains. “So unless you really know what you’re doing, buying individual stock has a lot of risk to it.”

This is where ACWI comes in.

“(ACWI) is a basket of stocks, instead of trying to pick the one stock that you are going to hang your hat on,” Kinney explains. “And (ACWI) is diversified throughout the world, so you own U.S. Stocks, developed international stocks and emerging market stocks … It’s just the easiest way to be diversified.”

Stay the course

There will inevitably be times when the stock market has its ups and downs. But even during those down times, that doesn’t mean it’s the right time to sell your stock.

Kinney says that the minimum amount of time you should expect to have your money in stocks is two to three years — but ideally, it should about seven years or more. That’s because, the advisers explain, any seven-year period with a balanced portfolio won’t yield a negative return. That even was true for seven-year periods that include 2008 and 2009.

“I think there seems to be some sentiment that the younger generation is a little leery of the stock market because they have lived through ‘08,” Wo says. “It is important to know that even these rolling (seven-year) periods that include ‘08 have not had a negative return.”

“You have got to really look at it for the long term,” Choy adds.

Leave emotions out of it

People might buy into certain stocks because they like to use those products or wear that brand of clothing, or even just because it’s something that they’re familiar with. CKW advisers explain that this isn’t the best way to make investment decisions.

“You might own Hawaiian Electric or Matson (stock) because it’s in your home town,” Kinney explains. “You have that bias toward your country, too — you feel comfortable owning U.S. stock, so even if international (stock) is going to outperform, you are less likely to allocate toward international.”

Having a balanced, diversified portfolio will help investors avoid those pitfalls.

Don’t rely on past performance

In describing how people should approach investing, Wo likes to reference a quote by Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

“If you skate to where it is now,” Wo says, “it’s going to be gone by the time you get to it. So you have to skate to where you think it is going to be. And that is what (Gretzky) attributed to his success.”

They explain that in finance, past trends are not going to influence future ones. Instead, pay attention to consumer habits — what’s popular, what’s not, what technologies may be on their way out — and try to predict trends.

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