For many people, investing isn’t just about smart financial decisions. They also want to allocate their resources in a way that is consistent with their personal values or religious principles. Many may prefer financial advice from a professional who shares those values. For those of the Christian faith, connecting with a CKA, or Certified Kingdom Advisor, could help bring financial and spiritual values into alignment. If you’re looking for specific financial advice, SmartAsset’s free matching tool can help you find an advisor.
What Is a Certified Kingdom Advisor (CKA)?
The CKA is a certification designed for professionals serving clients in the Christian faith and who take a values-based approach to financial matters. It involves a course of study that integrates biblical principles with core financial advisory training. Essentially, CKA holders frame their financial expertise within a worldview consistent with Christian teachings.
Kingdom Advisors created and administers the CKA training and certification process. Founded in 1997 (under the original name of Christian Financial Professionals Network), this group provides advocacy, education and networking for financial professionals. Its mandate is to help its members offer ‘biblically wise’ advice to their clients and promote a strong, mutually reinforcing tie between religious teaching and finance.
A CKA holder may have a background in financial or insurance advisory services, accounting or law. Many will have advanced degrees or other certifications. Christian financial advisors are ideal candidates.
What Are CKA Certification Requirements?
The CKA certification requires professional bona fides not unlike many other financial certifications. Applicants must have certain approved degrees or certifications, such as JD, CPA, CFP, ChFC and CPA, or 10 years experience in their designated field.
The prerequisites vary depending on a candidate’s professional background. There are many professional certificates that qualify candidates for admission, particularly for financial advisors and investment experts. Legal professionals could have specializations in many areas, including estate planning, gift planning and corporate law. In general, the certification is not designed for people just beginning in their field.
Kingdom Advisors also asks for three letters of reference, one of which must come from a church leader. Candidates show commitment to biblical stewardship and Christian values, including charitable giving, by signing a statement of personal stewardship.
Combined, the professional standards and faith values reflect Kingdom Advisors’ efforts to bring legitimacy to financial planning based on Christian principles. The organization also wants to expand a network that benefits advisors and clients who see no separation between financial matters and their religious faith.
What Does the CKA Educational Program Cover?
Since working professionals are the target market for CKA certification, the course of study is accessible online and self-directed. Kingdom Advisors collaborated with another Christianity-based organization, the Ron Blue Institute, to build out and deliver the coursework. Indiana Wesleyan University administers the CKA education program and issues the certificate upon completion. Online enrollment is also available to candidates across the United States.
The course includes 95 short video lessons, 212 scripture verses on money, 19 cause study assignments and 20 practice quizzes. Video lessons come from Ron Blue and Kingdom Advisors’ faculty. Candidates usually invest around 60 hours of study and have six months to complete the coursework. They also can purchase an optional CKA Educational Program Resource Guide for $75. Once enrolled, candidates have access to an instructional mentor who provides feedback on the case studies on an as-needed basis.
The regular price for the CKA educational program is $999, however there are limited-time offers when the price is lower. If candidates do not have a CKA membership already, they can bundle the organization’s membership fee with the educational program for $1,159. Candidates who complete the educational program are eligible to sit for the CKA exam, which is proctored online. The exam fee is $199.
Once certified, CKA holders must maintain membership with Kingdom Advisors and take ten hours of continuing education annually.
What’s the Difference Between CKAs and Certified Financial Planners (CFPs)?
Kingdom Advisors launched the CKA certification in 2016. So it may be too early to compare the financial credentials of the CKA certificate with the better-established CFP. However, both certifications are evidence that an advisor has studied to learn the finer points of retirement planning, investing, estate planning, insurance and taxation. That said, the CFP does not reflect any particular value structure. The CKA, as noted, views the topics in accord with Christian principles.
The CFP also requires professional bona fides, including 6,000 hours of study in a financially related field. Candidates with advanced degrees or certifications may be eligible to skip the course of study and head straight to the qualifying exam. Like the CKA, this certification does not qualify holders to do anything different than advisors without a CFP. Instead it conveys stature in the industry and can telegraph expertise to potential clients. Both certifications come with standards for ethical conduct and continuing education requirements.
The fundamental difference between them is that CKA holders highlight their Christian worldview for potential clients. In addition to standard financial education, CKA coursework includes topics such as charitable giving, financial stewardship, passing on stewardship and developing wisdom. Ultimately, CKA holders must know the financial advisory profession while embracing their clients’ religious values.
Relatively new to the financial advisory space, the CKA certification can help likeminded advisors and clients connect. There is nothing stopping CKA holders from working with clients of any faith. But Kingdom Advisors created the certification with a specific purpose that is inextricably linked to a Christian value structure.
The organization sees Christian value-based investing as a robust and underserved market. By providing this certification, the organization has attempted to unite professionals and clients in a mutually beneficial way.
Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor
- If you’re looking for a financial advisor – Christian or otherwise – it’s important to look at multiple options. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Look into what type of services your advisor offers and if they have the expertise in the areas you care about. It’s also wise to research whether they’ve ever been subject to disciplinary or legal action. Always remember to be clear with yourself and potential advisors about your financial and retirement goals.
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