The notion of giving is integral to Christianity and it gains even greater prominence at this time of the year.
The Bible, according to Rob West, president of Kingdom Advisors in Atlanta, has more than 2,300 verses that deal with money, assets and net worth, but it also teaches the importance of the proper management of money.
Giving to the poor and the needy is central to the Christian faith, West says, but managing one’s resources in the right manner and within the overall context of contentment and enjoyment that are fundamental to Christian teaching is equally important. Achieving those goals requires “wise counsel so as not to be ill advised about the amount that one needs to set aside for the future.”
“As a Christian, you should be intentional about your money and the proper stewardship of your money, and ask yourself how much you really need,” West says. “Generosity is a key area of the Scriptures and it is something that breaks the power of money in our lives since, ultimately, fulfillment is not about the accumulation of wealth. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make wise financial decisions.”
Since the financial crisis of 2008, many people have been questioning their approach to their finances and are keen to have their money managed around deeply held values and priorities. Kingdom Advisors, founded in 2003, helps advisors who want to serve clients that hold to Christian values. The organization supports advisors who want to realize purpose and fulfillment in their own workplaces and who want to join with like-minded advisors for encouragement and best practices.
“We believe the financial services industry is heading toward greater specialization. This is an opportunity to move beyond products and services and connect with clients at a belief system level that is not only good for them, but also good for advisors and their business,” West says.
The base of clients who hold a Christian or Biblical worldview “is massive in size,” he says, “and there are advisors out there who want to serve their clients and provide services that are consistent with that.”
Kingdom Advisors provides RIAs, bank advisors and wirehouse reps with the opportunity to gain a designation–the Qualified Kingdom Advisor–that’s the “gold standard” for biblical-based financial advice, West says.
But he also said that gaining that designation isn’t for advisors who “just want to put a fish on their business card” in order to tap into a new client base. Rather, working with Kingdom Advisors requires both experience and commitment.
“As a starting point, we require a level of competency and one or another of the [larger] industry designations, since our training is an add-on for working advisors who want to serve clients who have a Christian worldview,” West says. “We also require a pastor reference, client references, and a statement of faith, because we are looking for advisors who really have demonstrated a desire and commitment to not just serve clients who pursue the principles of Christian living but are also living by them.”
Today, West believes, there is a growing desire for those who hold a Christian worldview to have their faith intersect with all aspects of their life, in particular their management of money. Advisors who wish to work with these people need to be equally committed in the same way, he says.
Kingdom Advisors now has 1900 members from across the country and works with many top financial services firms. Recently, several prominent Christian universities have agreed to include the company’s proprietary training program as part of their financial planning graduate degree curricula.
In February 2015, the organization will hold its annual conference in Orlando; West is expecting to have more than 900 attendees.