Growing wealth for the long term and retiring comfortably is the premier financial goal for many Americans. To do that effectively, you may want to work with a financial advisor who has similar values to yours. Christian financial advisors incorporate biblical principles and teachings into their investment strategies and practices. There’s also a specific certification called certified kingdom advisor (CKA) that Christian financial advisors can earn. To find a financial advisor, Christian or otherwise, in your area, try using SmartAsset’s free matching tool.
Benefits of Hiring a Christian Financial Advisor
When working with a financial advisor, you want to choose someone who understands you. This includes grasping your current financial situation, your goals for the future and, oftentimes, your values. A Christian financial advisor can offer all of the same services as any financial advisor. However, they’re also able to connect with clients on another level because of a shared faith background.
David Sandhu, a Christian financial advisor at Wise Wealth in Fort Worth, Texas, says that can make it easier to facilitate financial conversations within a faith-based context. “Integrating faith and finance in our conversations — particularly when we discuss items such as stewardship, debt, retirement planning and how it relates to my clients’ ‘calling’ — are extremely important to people of faith,” Sandhu said. “Biblical financial guidance is rooted in wisdom from the Bible and scripture is the guiding principle behind the advice we give.”
Working with a Christian financial advisor can allow you to shape your strategy in a way that fits your values, rather than focusing solely on financial results. For example, one of your values may be charitable giving. A Christian financial advisor could help you create a financial plan that incorporates charitable giving within a biblical framework.
You also may feel more comfortable working with an advisor when you know they’re applying the same principles they use to advise you to their own financial lives. For instance, they may be able to share relatable examples of situations or scenarios in which they’ve used biblical principles to guide their path in building wealth.
What to Look for in a Christian Financial Advisor
There are a few things to consider when looking for a Christian financial advisor. The first is understanding the advisor’s investment strategy and style.
“I would look for a Christian financial advisor that understands biblically responsible investing (BRI),” Sandhu says. “Many investors want to honor God through their investments and BRI is the solution, especially for socially and/or biblically aware individuals, which allows Christians the opportunity to align their faith with their investments.”
Biblically responsible investing is similar to socially responsible investing (SRI), in the sense that values drive investment decisions. While SRI focuses on sustainability, corporate governance or social justice, BRI uses moral and social principles to guide investment choices.
For example, an advisor who follows a BRI strategy might direct investors away from companies that profit from the sale of alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. In turn, they may encourage investments in companies that promote giving back to the community or that engage in practices that yield a tangible environmental or social benefit.
Beyond Christian values, make sure the advisor’s other investing characteristics and financial planning services align with your needs. For example, a financial advisor that prefers short-term investing might not work for you if your primary goal is to save for your impending retirement. In addition, if you want to set up a college fund for your children, focus on advisors that offer college planning.
Christian Financial Advisor Certifications
There are numerous certifications that a financial advisor can pursue. Christian financial advisors can opt to earn the certified kingdom advisor (CKA) through Kingdom Advisors. To get this certification, advisors must:
- Hold an industry-approved designation, including CFP, CPA, ChFC, EA, CFA, CIMA, AAMS, CLU, or have at least 10 years of experience in a specific CKA discipline, such as insurance, investments, financial planning, law or accounting.
- Complete the university-based CKA Educational Program and pass its associated exam.
- Offer one pastoral reference and at least two non-family client references, and have served clients within the last two years.
- Complete 10 hours of continuing education training each year to maintain the certification.
In terms of the training required, advisors must complete a number of modules. These span a range of topics, including stewardship, leadership, discipleship, investing and life planning. It’s an intensive training that takes approximately 60 hours to complete online.
Keep in mind that a financial advisor can still use faith-based values to shape their investment style without this certification. Not every Christian financial advisor may choose to obtain a CKA designation. The process can be time-intensive and completing the coursework and exam can cost well over $1,000.
How to Find a Christian Financial Advisor
To find a Christian financial advisor, there are a number of online resources you can turn to. One option is the Kingdom Advisors’ Professional Directory Search tool. Another is Inspire Investing, which connects investors with Christian financial advisors who use a BRI approach. If neither of those work, the National Association of Christian Financial Consultants (NACFC) can help you find a suitable Christian advisor.
You may also be able to connect with a Christian financial advisor by asking for referrals from your pastor or other leadership at your church. Also consider asking fellow church members, coworkers, friends and relatives.
When getting referrals, take time to ask the person about their individual experiences in working with the advisor. Ask what they like or don’t like about them, or whether they’ve ever had any issues in working with them. Getting the perspective of someone you know can help you decide whether they’re someone you may be willing to trust your money with.
If you’re open to financial advisors who don’t only abide by Christian values, consider trying SmartAsset’s free online matching tool. By using this, you’ll be paired with up to three financial advisors in your area, with the final choice of who to work with being completely up to you.
All in all, finding a Christian financial advisor that fits your needs is the same as searching for any advisor. Always keep your ultimate needs and values at the core of your search, as they will guide you to a good client-advisor match. Stay open-minded as you look around, and don’t be afraid to interview multiple advisor candidates. Beyond that, be sure to ask each financial advisor many questions so you can make an informed decision.
Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor
- It can be tough to know where to start when you’re looking for a financial advisor, Christian or otherwise. Luckily, SmartAsset’s free matching tool can pair you with up to three financial advisors in your area. Get started now.
- When choosing an advisor, it’s important to vet them properly to ensure they’re a good fit. Key things to consider include whether the advisor is fee-based or fee-only and what type of specialties they have. It’s also important to know whether they’ve ever been subject to any disciplinary or legal action.
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