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The Hawaii Business 20 for the Next 20

(page 3 of 21)

    Photo: David Croxford

James “Jimmy” Bennett, age 33

Certified Financial Planner, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

When he was in ninth grade, Jimmy Bennett’s parents, both schoolteachers, had him compile a personal budget, balance a checkbook and work at the student bookstore to discover the value of money.

The lessons stuck. Bennett already has a track record of managing portfolios for wealthy clients in New York and San Francisco. He’s also giving back to the community: As a volunteer teaching financial skills to public school sixth graders, he gives them an inkling of real-life economics, value and what it takes to put an iPod in their hands.

“What we’re trying to get across is an awareness or an understanding that what they have just doesn’t get there for no reason,” he says.

Previously, Bennett and a colleague mentored an inner-city youth in New York in a program similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

He also reaches out to families, offering seminars on how to save for college, a subject close to his heart. The father of a 21-month-old son, with a second child on the way, he’s already investing monthly for their education. He encourages families to start while their children are young, because, in 18 years, a university like Yale, which he attended, is projected to cost more than half a million dollars for a four-year undergraduate degree.

As an honor roll graduate of Punahou, and a three-sport star (football, basketball and baseball), Bennett sets his sights high. After 12 years on the Mainland, he returned to Hawaii in 2008 to give back in his community. A year later he was ranked No. 1 in assets and revenue nationwide in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Reach for Excellence class.

“In today’s world, we need more than just individuals seeking to increase the bottom line,” says John Leong, who has known Bennett since kindergarten. Bennett now handles financial planning for one of Leong’s companies.

“We need individuals who seek to use their skills and abilities to improve the world around them,” says Leong.

“Mr. Bennett is one of those individuals.”


1. Randy Baldemor
2. James Bennett
3. Kalei Cadinha-Puaa
4. Kainoa Daines
5. Matthew Delaney
6. Mark Duda
7. Charles Hew-Len
8. Michael Kaleikini
9. Daniel Leuck
10. Jennifer Li Dotson
11. Bryan Luke
12. Wesley Machida
13. Makani Maeva
14. Cameron Nekota
15. Robert Piper
16. Carol Reimann
17. Claire Sullivan
18. Michael Tresler
19. Raymond Vara, Jr.
20. Aulani Wilhelm

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