Get to Know Chris Otto: Perspectives from the Dojo
Reading time: 6 minutes
February 10th, 2024
“Success in life doesn’t just happen overnight, that is why it’s absolutely important to develop a personal foundation built upon patience, perseverance, and discipline. Often times you can’t just walk away when the going gets tough, but you can uses these difficult periods in your life to strengthen your resolve and become stronger and smarter because of it.” – Chris Otto, Senior Vice President - Bankoh Investment Services
Having good money habits may seem like a skill that can only be attained by earning a degree in finance or working full-time as an accountant or banker. But the truth is that the qualities which can help a person be successful with managing their finances—patience, consistency, and dedication, among others—are often developed through lessons learned in day-to-day life.
Chris Otto understands this better than most. As a troubled teenager growing up in Kapahulu on Oahu, Otto found himself getting into fights with kids in neighborhood gangs. He was introduced to kempo karate in high school and saw it as an opportunity to learn how to fight back against bullies. “Basically, I was tired of getting my butt kicked. I wanted to study martial arts for the wrong reason, which was to learn how to beat someone else up for a change,” Otto says. “Instead, my instructor helped me to develop strong character traits such as respect, discipline, patience, and determination – all of which provided benefits beyond just my martial arts training.”
In addition to practicing the kata, or movement patterns, of karate, Otto learned the importance of showing up every day and focusing his attention during karate lessons. He began to understand the values of consistency and dedication—how the discipline of hard work teaches resiliency. “I learned that using martial arts for self-defense should be the last resort. The real takeaway was growing as an individual, learning compassion, and protecting people who can’t protect themselves.”
Having patience and a strong resolve would pay off for Otto as an adult, especially when he was diagnosed with early-stage IV cancer in 2012. His rare type of head and neck cancer required radiation treatments that were so intense, Otto had to live off a feeding tube for six months. All this, after only recently getting married, buying a house, and having a child that was less than one year old. “I decided, if by the grace of God I survive this, I will pay it forward and help people just as others have helped me during my time of need,” he says.
Today, after more than 10 years of being cancer-free, Otto pays it forward as the president of Bankoh Investment Services, a nonbank subsidiary of Bank of Hawaii and a member of FINRA/SIPC. He's committed to developing financial plans that help people achieve their dreams. “My experiences have taught me the benefits of having a real-world PhD—which is perseverance, hard work, and discipline,” Otto says. “Everything I’ve learned in life has helped me become a more purposeful adult, and a better human being overall.” The lessons he’s learned have also shaped his approach to finance:
“You’ve got to have patience for investments to develop and for financial plans to reach fruition,” says Otto. “A lot of people don’t have patience, so when the market is down, they’re thinking it’s the end of the world and they sell at the wrong time. If they would be patient, they'd see the market often recovers. There’s an old adage that says it’s not about timing the market, but time in the market.”
Financial markets go up and down on a daily basis. Making impulsive decisions about how to invest your money can be costly. It’s important to have patience with your investments and maintain a long-term perspective when it comes to money. By avoiding frequent trades or get-rich-quick schemes, investors can be in a better position to achieve their financial goals.
“Consistency is key in finance when it comes to compounding interest in savings accounts and putting systematic investment plans together. A 401(k) usually becomes a person’s biggest nest egg because money consistently goes into their accounts. That’s crucial to success,” Otto says.
Consistency means being steady and stable, which helps to build momentum and stay focused on goals, especially when it comes to finances. By being consistent with smart money habits—such as sticking to a budget, paying your bills on time, and saving regularly—you can help reduce your debt, improve your credit score, and build wealth over time.
“Discipline with your finances means everything from paying yourself first to controlling your debt. It’s preventing yourself from splurging on purchases you don’t necessarily need,” says Otto.
Having financial discipline can help you set specific financial goals, save money instead of spending it, avoid incurring new debt, and stay committed to your investment plan. Just like time management and taking care of your health, discipline means saying no to some things so you can say yes to other priorities.
Neither the information nor any opinions expressed herein should be construed as a solicitation or a recommendation by Bankoh Investment Services or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities, investments, or insurance products.
Investment products are offered and sold by Bankoh Investment Services, Inc., a nonbank subsidiary of Bank of Hawaii and a member of FINRA/SIPC. Investment and Insurance products are NOT FDIC INSURED, NOT BANK GUARANTEED, NOT A DEPOSIT, AND MAY LOSE VALUE, INCLUDING LOSS OF PRINCIPAL.
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