Doug Chin’s full-time job is project management supervisor with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, where he oversees capital-improvement projects and supervises project managers. But something he does as a volunteer is what we wanted to learn more about.
A longtime Mercer Island resident, Chin is president of the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII), a nonprofit education group that provides the tools, resources, and know-how investors need to successfully build and manage investment wealth. The local chapter has more than 3,000 members.
Those members receive a monthly journal; model portfolios; unbiased research; weekly stock investment ideas; a top mutual fund guide; comprehensive investment education available on AAII’s website; an annual tax-planning guide; and more, Chin said.
Chin discovered AAII when he was taking an investing course and read one of the organization’s articles. He doesn’t remember the topic, but it prompted him to look into the organization, and he joined in 2006. He became chapter president in May 2019 and said AAII has made him a confident investor.
Following is more about Chin’s association, plus a little more about the chapter president himself.
AAII has been around for 42 years and says it has assisted more than 2 million people in advancing their investing knowledge, but how widely known is it?
AAII has existed since 1978. We are most well-known for our weekly Sentiment Survey, which is occasionally used by news outlets to gauge the mood of individual investors. Beyond that, AAII relies on the word of mouth of its members and chapter leader volunteers to spread its message of education in investing. We are always looking to make ourselves more widely known. Our financial analysts are sometimes quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal and have appeared previously on CNBC.
Roughly how many members does your chapter have, and what’s their age range?
The Puget Sound Chapter currently has 3,179 AAII members. The average age range of AAII members is 45-65.
Are they mostly retired, or working, or a mix?
According to the last 2020 member survey we held, 80 percent of AAII members are retired.
Why did you join?
I liked that there was a monthly journal, information on computerized investing, and local chapter meetings. I felt the membership fees were really reasonable for all these features. In general, I liked the ability to access different tools and resources to help me learn about investing options and wealth management. I’ve been a member since.
What have you gotten out of being a member?
I’ve gained confidence in investing on my own and having more control of my investments. I’ve learned to be able to select investment vehicles that will move me to my investment goals and allow me to sleep at night. A balance of return versus risk.
Some people view investing as complicated, intimidating, and time-consuming, preferring to leave their investing to full-time professionals. What are the advantages of going it alone with guidance from AAII?
If you have no interest in learning about investments, then you should leave that job to full-time professionals. Advantages of going it alone: You control what your money is invested in. You determine what best meets your needs through your own research using investment tools and resources. Generally, AAII speakers will answer specific questions you may have about a topic they present on. Also, AAII chapter meetings allow you to network with like-minded investors, although less so now because we don’t have in-person meetings at this time.
AAII doesn’t provide investment advice, instead offering investment education, correct? So to whom do AAII members turn if they have questions or concerns about their portfolio, or if they need some advice?
Yes; AAII provides investment education, but it also allows you to analyze and compare investment options and different investment methods. Other sources for investment research would be reputable online resources or your fellow investors.
What’s your main message or goal for chapter members?
My main goal is to provide a range of investment tools and resources to members to help them manage their wealth and investments. We all have varying situations and different comfort levels on how much risk we are willing to take. Having tools and resources can help you find the balance between risk and reward so that you can sleep at night.
You’ve been holding chapter meetings virtually during COVID-19. What do chapter meetings entail, and how often do they occur?
Yes; since COVID-19 we’ve been holding webinars on the odd-numbered months. This is the same schedule we had when we were holding in-person meetings. The meetings feature a speaker making a presentation on a topic we feel that the membership will be interested in and help them achieve their financial goals.
What would you tell people about AAII who aren’t members, but might be interested in becoming one?
I would invite them to attend a virtual chapter meeting. You can get more info on upcoming events by going to aaiips.org. You don’t have to be an AAII member to attend the virtual chapter meeting. We ask that you make a donation of any amount to register for the event. I would also recommend they try a one-month trial membership to see the tools and resources that are offered. For a more intimate discussion on investing, our chapter also has an Eastside Special Interest Group that meets monthly, except in July and August.
Someone has to join AAII to receive its information, correct?
Yes. (But) AAII is offering some special trial-membership packages. After the trial memberships end, the annual dues are $49 for the basic package and $198 for the plus package (for digital and print combined).
Explain how AAII’s Model Portfolio works. It seems to be a high-performing feature.
In short, the Model Shadow Stock Portfolio is a real-money portfolio that AAII manages, currently with 29 stocks in it. Our founder, James Cloonan, wanted to show that it was possible to manage a portfolio of stocks, following precise procedures, with a minimum time commitment. In the case of the Shadow Stock Portfolio, this time amounts to only about four to six hours per quarter. Portfolio reviews, and any necessary adjustments to portfolio holdings, are made once a quarter, after companies report their quarterly financial results. Importantly, this Model Portfolio is intended to be an educational model for investors, and any profits are reinvested into the portfolio’s holdings.
Is there anything else about AAII or its Puget Sound chapter that you would like to share?
I would say that even if you don’t intend to manage your own investments, you should educate yourself about investing so that you can better understand your monthly brokerage statements and have meaningful discussions with your adviser on expectations and what the path is to reach your investment goals. The Investor Guides and Article Index resources on the AAII website can help you plan for and establish an investment strategy. Consider trying a trial subscription to access these and other investment resources.
More about you personally: How long have you been project management supervisor with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP)?
Over seven years. Before my current job, I designed or managed the design and construction of water resources projects on rivers and streams. I did this over a span of approximately 32 years for DNRP. Now I manage the design and construction of industrial facilities for DNRP. I’ve been with the department for 39-plus years.
What do you like to do for fun, or what are some interests outside work?
I enjoy traveling to different parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. Closer to home, I enjoy hiking and visiting Washington and Oregon’s coastal beaches. Other spare time is spent reading.
Do you have a favorite Washington beach?
I enjoy Ruby Beach on the Washington coast, and I like the Cannon Beach/ Seaside areas in Oregon.
How about a favorite Washington hike?
I like Snow Lake, mostly because it’s nearby, and I like lakes.