Can You Recommend a Christian Financial Counselor Near Me, and What Should I Look for in an Advisor?
Randy Alcorn recommends Ron Blue’s Kingdom Advisors, which assists Christian financial advisors in taking an active role in counseling their clients toward investing more in God’s Kingdom (www.kingdomadvisors.org). You can search for a financial advisor in your area on their site.
Here is a portion from Randy’s book Money, Possessions, and Eternity about seeking wise counsel:
David says, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me” (Psalm 16:7). “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:24). Ultimately, we can get the best financial counsel from God’s Word. If we do, we’ll often find it gives us perspectives dramatically different from those of human counselors—secular and Christian. The many scriptural principles dealt with in this book are far more important than independent counsel from me or others, regardless of their financial experience. Still, there’s a great deal to be gained from seeking wise counsel:
- Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 8:11)
- The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
- Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)
- Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. (Proverbs 19:20)
- The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. (Ecclesiastes 9:17)
These passages make it clear that we should seek a number of counselors, not just one, when we’re making important decisions. The point isn’t just quantity, but quality—they must be truly wise. Because wisdom begins with fearing God (Proverbs 9:10), usually these counselors should be Christians who are walking with God and living by his principles. The counsel of the ungodly must not be our standard (Psalm 1:1). Having weighed the Scriptures and the counsel of others, we should ask God for wisdom. He promises to give it to those who seek it (James 1:5).
It’s much easier to find a Christian financial counselor than a biblical financial counselor. Financial advisors should be evaluated not only by their professed faith but also by their knowledge of Scripture, grasp of finances, track record, character, and skills.
It’s usually best to receive investment advice from fee-based financial counselors, rather than salespeople paid by commission. It’s extremely difficult for financial counselors to give objective advice when they have specific products to sell. For them to recommend alternatives that would be better for you but earn them less money—or no money—is more than you can reasonably expect. Usually they won’t try to cheat you, but they will naturally narrow the options to the alternatives that earn them money. (After all, selling particular investment opportunities is what they do for a living.) They have a vested interest in persuading you to make a decision to their advantage, which may not be to yours. That’s another reason why wise counsel should be sought from more than one person (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).
Studies demonstrate that many “no load” mutual funds (those with no sales commission) perform as well as “load” funds, which may charge a front-end fee of 5 percent or a back-end fee of 3 percent that goes to the sales representative. With a 5 percent front-load fund, your investment must increase by 5 percent just to break even. Only then can you begin to earn money. Look at it this way: If two runners are racing 100 meters and one is given a five-meter start, which one is more likely to win? A no-load fund, on the other hand, doesn’t put you behind from the start. That’s great for you, but not for your advisor, who will receive no commission. In a fee-based arrangement, you will more likely get good advice not tied to any particular product, you will pay for guidance only as you receive it, and the fee will typically be much less than a commission.
It’s also important to seek spiritual counsel from people who can advise you where to put your money to work in God’s kingdom. Once again, however, you must be aware of vested interests. Two wealthy women approached me and asked if I would advise them periodically about which Christian ministries to support. They told me about bad experiences they’d had with ministries that had obtained their names as “wealthy donor prospects” and pressured them to give. The only way I could advise these women with integrity was to make sure I had nothing to gain from them. I established a simple ground rule: I would be glad to advise them, but they weren’t to do anything for my material benefit, not even buy lunch for me. Only when we eliminated the possibility of any vested interest on my part did I feel they could trust me—and I could trust myself.
Once you have received counsel, the decision is yours. If you doubt the wisdom or rightness of investing in something, you shouldn’t proceed, because “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).