One of 2014's Top Performers Needs a Distributor
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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

One of 2014's Top Performers Needs a Distributor

Consider this a textbook case on the importance of distribution.

Upright Financial Corp. has had a good year so far. As of 10:39 a.m. today on the Morningstar fund screener for U.S. equities performance, its Upright Growth fund was ranked number 2 for year-to-date performance, garnering 16.01% returns. Its five-year performance was 23.01%.

In fact, the PM of the 15-year-old fund, and president of the East Hanover, N.J.-based firm, David Chiueh, was profiled in Reuters as "one of the best stock-pickers in America for the month of January" and as "the only large-cap growth manager among the 1,781 tracked by Morningstar to post a positive return for the year through February 5."

Did we mention that he achieved all of this performance while still strictly keeping 20 to 25 percent of his assets in cash?

The irony is that although Chiueh is kicking the pants of virtually everyone else in the U.S. equities game, all this attention is generating at best a mild pop in assets.

Why, you may ask? Upright has very little right now in the form of distribution. It is not on any platforms. Currently, the fund is sold through his firm, which was originally as a financial planning business, primarily via client referrals.

Here are some of Chiueh's thoughts on the subject:

Lots of people don't know where they can buy the mutual fund. We'd love to get onto a platform, currently it's very inconvenient for the investor.

Some funds do lousy in performance, but through marketing, they still do well. They are still selling a lot of shares. Clients don't seem to pay any attention. We do need to put some effort on this issue right now.

More on Chieuh. A 56-year-old immigrant from Taiwan, he completed his MBA from Rutgers in 1987 and received his CFP designation in 1991. He joined the financial industry in 1986, and then founded in 1990 Upright Financial Corp., an RIA registered company focused on both comprehensive financial planning and money management. In 1999, he established the Upright Growth Fund. Currently, he serves as president of both the corporation and the fund.

Chieuh says that a pillar to his performance success is his willingness to shift between a variety of investing styles. "I'm, not limited by any style, not linked to any of them. I basically respond, a lot, to what the market is doing. Sometimes I do value, and when the market changes, I may add some growth-style stock if I feel comfortable in that environment," he said.

He thinks the market still has some upside growth, and considers average P/E ratios to still be on the low side. He does monitor the market for any possible signs of correction trends, but he likes the fundamentals of many U.S. firms.

"If earnings can continue to grow this strongly, the environment will continue to be good for investors. As for me, I've been a bit lucky and have learned a bit from some of my mistakes," he said.

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