In just four years, Bryan Nakamoto, a 36-year-old native of Honolulu, has risen to the top of his profession. Consider this short trajectory: In 2003, he became a full-time producer with Occidental Underwriters of Hawaii, offering clients life insurance and other financial-planning products. In 2004, he doubled his annual securities production and made MDRT. In 2005, he doubled his securities production yet again and made MDRT, yet again. In 2006, he reached Top of the Table status. That same year, he left Occidental and partnered with one of Hawaii’s top-selling life insurance producers, Adelia Chung, CLU, ChFC, and past president of MDRT, to form Spectrum Wealth Management. Along the way, Nakamoto, a husband and father of two, earned three key designations: CFP, CEA and CRPC. No other advisor in Hawaii holds all three designations.
Given this record, you might assume Nakamoto, a NAIFA-Honolulu member, had a detailed game plan from the start. Not so, he says. “Most people think that vision leads to action. I think of it the other way around—action leads to vision,” he says. “I figured ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.” As he kept moving, he maintained this belief: “I would find where I ultimately needed to be.”
Getting out there
When advisors are starting out, there’s a tendency to “take advantage” of the freedom, says Mark Shirakata, CFP, LUTCF, a NAIFA-Honolulu member who worked with Nakamoto at Occidental. “There’s no punch-in-the-clock,” he adds. “We could be on the road, in the office, at the shopping center, and we’d still be considered ‘working.’” From the start, though, Nakamoto kept a tight schedule. “In the evening, I’d look across the hall and his light would [still] be on,” says Shirakata. When Nakamoto wasn’t in the office, “I just went out there and started talking to people,” he says. Most of his lunches, for example, were out of the office with prospects who included old high-school friends. “A very soft sell,” adds Nakamoto. “I only gave my card if they asked for it.” On other occasions, he “kept [his] eyes open” at the gym, on the basketball court—anywhere that afforded the opportunity for personal exchange.
A great fit
Even before he joined Occidental, Nakamoto had solid people skills. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in economics, he became an independent contractor with a multinational company that sold wellness products. Meanwhile, his father, Ronald, a property and casualty agent with Occidental, encouraged him to join the industry. “I guess, ultimately, he wore me down,” says Nakamoto. In 2001, he got licensed to sell life insurance—“just part-time, to get a flavor of the industry,” he says. A securities license followed in 2002, as did the realization that the industry was a “great fit.” “I knew I could help other people,” he says, “and in doing so, I could help myself.” In 2003, he closed out his other business and gradually, through NAIFA and other industry and community events, caught the attention of industry veteran Adelia Chung. “Bryan’s vision, client-centered focus and professionalism made giving up my sole practice of 25 years easy,” she says. For example, Nakamoto takes a photo of each client, which then goes in an electronic file set up through the software program PaperPort. “Having my client’s picture pop up on the computer screen when I’m on the phone with them humanizes the process for me and for my staff,” he says.
As for the future and his vision of it, “It’s still expanding,” says Nakamoto, thanks largely, he adds, to his wife (and high-school sweetheart), Laurie. “I couldn’t do what I do without my wife’s support. She also understands the ‘big picture’ and allows me to work toward achieving the balance we both desire.”