Cadinha at Forty

It’s just hard to believe that we’ve been at this for 40 years. If you ask Harlan, it seems like yesterday that he first opened the doors at Cadinha & Company. We’ve come so far and learned so much – about who we are, about what we do and about how we do what we do.

So, we thought it might be fun to sit down and talk with some of the “old timers” and see what they’ve learned in 40 years and what wisdom they can share with those who are facing the next forty.

What makes Cadinha, well, Cadinha?

There’s no doubt that Cadinha has a different approach from most investment advisers. And a lot of that difference can be found in the way we think of and interact with our clients.

“We care,” says VP, Brad Totherow. “Not saying other people don’t care. But we truly, truly care about the clients and each other. We are a big firm now, still caring about clients first is one of the key traits. Not just caring when the markets go up and down. But caring about what fits them, not something that fills a set of boxes or rules set by someone else.”

Cadinha vice president, Preston Lentz agrees. “It’s about caring. Still listening to people. Helping them ID what their issues and problems are. Trying to find concrete ways to deal with changes. Because everything changes. It’s ongoing study. To me, that’s how we deal with our clients. That’s the connection. It reaffirms that care, that attention, that desire to be with people and help them; clients, each other. Attention that has never wavered.”

The personal relationships with clients are a huge part of the picture says client services VP, Robyn Macy, but don’t discount the expertise. “Number one is the investment expertise,” she says. “It’s at a level so much higher than you would find in the typical investment adviser.”

How does the spirit of “ohana,” or family, work at Cadinha?

A large part of our success over the years can be attributed to the way we put the spirit of “ohana” to work – in the way we treat our clients and in the way we treat one another. For some of us, it’s something we consciously think about and, for others, it’s just the way we live.

“I don’t really try,” says company founder, Harlan Cadinha. “I love these people and I do whatever I can for them and in the process, they realize that. I don’t care what their job is, if they have the right kind of human integrity and know how to be part of the team – they are family.”

“It’s all the little things everybody does,” says Cyd Kikuyama, “the kindnesses. People here are very generous and very kind.”

“When I talk to people I am truthful. Straightforward,” says Office Manager, Lei Yoshizu. “This is how I am with the employees. I let them know if I have a problem and don’t brood over it. I treat people like I want to be treated. With respect.”

Or maybe it’s the brownies.

“I make brownies every quarter,” says Robyn Macy, “I call them ‘billing brownies’. The quarterly billing of clients is a busy time. Longer hours. Early hours. I always bring in a treat.”

Forty years is a chunk of time. What’s been the biggest change for Cadinha?

Seems like it might have something to do with technology.

“Technology,” says Harlan.

“Technology,” says Brad.

“Technology,” says Preston.

“Technology,” says Robyn and she continues, “I remember carbon copy contracts – you could not make a mistake – created on typewriters. No email. No Google. We did everything by phone and mail. Or walked physically from office to office. It’s been a blessing and a hardship at times because everyone wants things quicker and there are security issues.” She laughs, “I remember when faxing was the technology!”

What have been the more notable challenges Cadinha and its clients have faced over the years?

In forty years, Cadinha has guided its clients through a lot of change and challenge – from the Reagan recession and recovery to the dot com boom and bust to the great recession of 2008 and the ten-year bull market that followed. Through it all, we have focused on nothing but preserving our clients’ wealth. It hasn’t always been easy.

“Coming through 2008,” says Brad. “Wow, we made it. Personally, and business-wise, that was a big, big economic impact on everyone’s lives. I remember jumping in my car, driving home and not knowing if the market would even open the next day due to liquidity issues. I kept thinking that the conservative nature of Cadinha helped me – it was so big, I knew there would be firms that wouldn’t be around the next week – I was just thankful I was at Cadinha. We got through it. And we got our clients through it as well.”

“Met this couple that was referred to us by an old friend in the biz,” Harlan remembers. “They had invested with one of their friends who was brand new to the business. This was just before the collapse of the banking industry. They flew to Honolulu to see the firm and meet. I didn’t hear from them for a couple months and thought, well, that was that. Then one day I get a phone call and they’re ready to move. They moved their account to Cadinha shortly before the market tanked. Just weeks before they would have lost at least 45% of their life’s savings. It would have changed everything for them.”

Looking forward to another forty.

In 40 years, Harlan Cadinha has built Cadinha and Company in to one of the largest and most successful firms of its kind in America. And, as he gets ready to pass the torch to the next generation who will take care of third and even fourth generation clients, we asked him how he felt about Cadinha’s future.

“I see tremendous opportunity for the company on the horizon,” he said.

Any regrets?

He sighs, “It just went too fast.”