Portfolios In Paradise: How This Ameriprise Advisor In Hawaii Manages Wealth In The Most Expensive State

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Funling Tang manages money in Hawaii, a state with unique properties that create a challenge for clients and advisors to keep up in what is the most expensive state in the United States.

Tang says the biggest challenge to advising in the aloha state is the time difference that creates a very small window for trading. The market closes at either 10 or 11 a.m. local time depending on daylight savings. 

“It can be challenging when the market is moving and clients are nervous and the window is so small,” Tang says. “We are disadvantaged in terms of the time.”

Having a client base concentrated in Hawaii also means many more two job households than in other parts of the country because of the outsize living expenses, with a current typical home value of $689,945, according to Zillow Z .

A Hong Kong native, a large portion of Tang’s clients are also of Asian descent, “because of proximity lots of small business owners from Asia migrate to Hawaii to start a business and become very successful,” she says. “That’s really unique in Hawaii, we have a lot of Asian money.”

Tang was born in Hong Kong as one of eight children. While her parents were raised in mainland China, she was raised in Hong Kong when it was ruled by the British. The 66-year-old came to the U.S. to get an education, attending the University of Hawaii and never leaving. A job at a local bank eventually became a quarter century at Ameriprise Financial AMP , currently serving as a financial advisor and CEO of Anchor Wealth Advisors in Honolulu.

Her team consists of six advisors including herself. In the spirit of catering to the diversity of Hawaii, her team features advisors who speak Mandarin and Japanese and she is currently looking to add someone who speaks Korean to cater to a growing population as a result of changes in the visa policy.

“Because there is a diversified group of people living in Hawaii, that diversity creates tolerance and sense that it is okay to be different,” she says. “I never had the experience of feeling like I couldn’t make it because I am a minority and a woman.”

Over the last year, Covid has taken center stage in conversations with clients as well as colleagues, with her team switching to a virtual office in March of 2020. The experience has made her grateful for the exposure to digital tools that began before Covid forced it upon everyone. There has been a sense that the team and their clients had to learn this new normal simultaneously.

“It is not as challenging as I thought it would be, clients are very accepting that we are going through this together,” she says. “Wellbeing and health is more important to me than anything else so clients understand. Everybody is learning the same way.”

While the last 12 months brought along immense challenges, Tang is optimistic about the future, expecting strong GDP growth in 2021. “With everything opening up due to the vaccine and stimulus checks helping the liquidity in the market, we are going to be fine. The market is looking favorable in 2021.”

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