Click below to listen to Episode 38 – Who Is Kingdom Advisors

38 – Who Is Kingdom Advisors

Learn about Kingdom Advisors from their president, Ron West.

You may have heard Bob and Mary Jo talk about Kingdom Advisors before. Joining them is special guest Rob West, the President of Kingdom Advisors, a professional association promoting the integration of a biblical worldview into financial practices. In this episode, you will learn about Kingdom Advisors, who they are, and what that can mean for you.

Rob serves as primary spokesperson for the organization along with giving leadership to organizational strategy and content. He has dedicated his professional career to work at the intersection of faith and finance, having led a successful faith-based financial services firm, serving as the host of several radio programs on a biblical approach to finance, and speaking frequently on matters of faith and finance.

GUESTS: Rob West, President of Kingdom Advisors
HOSTED BY: Bob Barber, CWS® and Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®

 

* Rob West and Kingdom Advisors are not affiliated with Christian Financial Advisors.

Mentioned In This Episode

Christian Financial Advisors
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Bob Barber, CWS®, CKA®
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Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®, CKA®
Rob West
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Kingdom Advisors
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Find A Certified Kingdom Advisor
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Moneywise Radio Show
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

[INTRODUCTION]

Bob: Welcome to Christian Financial Perspectives, a weekly podcast where we talk about ways to integrate your faith with your finances. This is Bob Barber.

Mary Jo: And I’m Mary Jo Lyons.

Bob: Are you ready to learn how to apply biblical wisdom to everyday financial decisions?

Mary Jo: Join us as we look at integrating your faith with your finances. If it’s your first time listening, welcome to our podcast, and if you’re a returning listener, welcome back.

[EPISODE]

Bob:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either one of them falls down, one can help the other up, but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? The one may be overpowered. Two can defend themselves.” A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Mary Jo:
In today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about Kingdom Advisors, who they are, and what they mean for you, our listeners. As Certified Kingdom Advisors, Bob and I both are uniquely positioned to integrate God’s plans into our advice and counsel in working with our clients. Joining us today is a special guest, Rob West, the president of Kingdom Advisors, a professional association promoting the integration of a biblical worldview into financial practices. Before we get started, I wanted to back up to the scripture. I just loved that last line, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. As we set the tone for our conversation about Kingdom Advisors, there’s three of us and maybe even four of us when you add God into the picture, but we’ve got you and I as advisors, our clients that we’re working with, the umbrella of Kingdom Advisors, and God’s word. And when we put all that together, that’s a pretty strong group.

Bob:
It is, Mary Jo. You were asking that this morning, when I said we were going to have Rob West as the guest on the program, immediately what came to my mind was this scripture because Kingdom Advisors comes along, steps along the side of the financial advisor that wants to integrate a biblical worldview into finance. So Rob West is our guest today. He serves as the primary spokesperson for the organization. He’s actually the president of Kingdom Advisors. Rob’s dedicated his professional career to working with what we call it, the intersection of faith and finance and having led a successful faith based financial services firm himself, serving as also the host of several radio programs on a biblical approach to finance and speaking frequently on matters of faith and finance. Rob and his wife, Julie, and their four children live in Roswell, Georgia. So Rob, welcome to Christian Financial Perspectives. We’re so excited to have you on our podcast.

Rob:
Well, Bob, Mary Jo, it’s a true delight to be with you today.

Mary Jo:
As president of Kingdom Advisors, can you tell us more about Kingdom Advisors and what the mission of the organization is? Kind of set the stage?

Rob:
Yeah, I’d be delighted to. This is something we’re so passionate about, and you all are such a great representation of this army of men and women around the country And now beyond the United States that are committed to serving clients around biblically wise, financial advice. Mary Jo, our mission is simple. It’s to benefit the public by providing what we call our four pillars – advocacy, training, community, and ultimately distinction to Christian financial professionals. And we grant the Certified Kingdom Advisor designation and uphold it as the standard of excellence for biblically wise, financial advice. The idea is that when you lay a biblical worldview on top of financial decision-making, there are clear planning differentiators, and an advisor who’s been trained and equipped to really be a specialist in that biblical advice, combined with real competency and experience and a commitment to character and integrity, really presents a financial advisor that’s a unique offering to a Christian who wants values alignment between the advice they’re receiving, of course, competent advice, but the advice they’re receiving from their advisor and the decisions they’re making to make sure they’re consistent. Because here’s the reality. We know that a biblical worldview of money is time-tested. It’s always right. It’s always relevant. It’s never going to change. And it’s often counter-cultural. So having an advisor who understands that and really can specialize in that advice is what we’re all about. And so our vision is that every Christian would have access to a Certified Kingdom Advisor. We’ve got 2,500 members today, but looking forward to the day that we have ultimately 30,000 CKAs around the country and beyond ready to serve Christians in their financial counsel.

Mary Jo:
That’s awesome.

Bob:
500 members of Kingdom Advisors, or is that actually 2,500 Certified Kingdom Advisors now, Rob?

Rob:
Yeah, that’s a good question. So actually I’ll give you more specific numbers. We’ve got 2,700 members of Kingdom Advisors today, and those would be folks that are a part of the association and in the community and participating in our training and those types of things. And then about 1500 of those have earned CKA today.

Mary Jo:
I love being part of an army. I always wanted to be in the armed forces. So now I feel like I’m in good company.

Bob:
We’re part of such an army of believers and financial advisors that believe that really God owns it all. And I know becoming a Certified Kingdom Advisor is not an easy task at all. It really requires a pretty major commitment. Rob, we both made that commitment. Can you explain more about this certification of becoming a Certified Kingdom Advisor, even from the part of how long they have to have been in business and having to get personal references and that process to receive those qualifications?

Rob:
Yeah. Well, Bob, this is something, as you might imagine, that’s very important to us because if we’re going to hold somebody out as being credentialed and meeting all of our requirements and carry the designation title Certified Kingdom Advisor, we want to make sure this is somebody who’s not just looking for a marketing ploy or looking for access to more clients, but somebody who’s really committed to upholding the standards that really go along with the CKA designation. And so, this person who’s earned this, like you and Mary Jo, is a committed Christian financial, legal, or accounting professional who’s met high standards in integrity, character, and competence, and then has specialized training. What does that mean? Well, let me break that down. It begins with the training that’s underneath the CKA designation. It’s a 60 hour university certificate program offered through, at least today, the two largest Christian universities in the country, Liberty University and Indiana Wesleyan University as an online certificate program with a national proctored exam. So we’re talking about a rigorous course of study with a university backing that would be the equivalent of a three credit hour course if you were on campus. And again followed by that national three hour proctored exam. In addition to that, somebody completing that program successfully, as you mentioned, Bob, there’s a significant experience requirement that includes 10 years experience, or one of the, what we call, big seed designations. You either have to have a CFA or CFP or CHFC or a CPA, one of those types of designations to evidence the initial base of competency. And then the CKA is really to add on to that base of competency with this specialization in a biblical worldview of money. Beyond that, we do require a Pastoral and client references. We have a code of ethics and a statement of faith that’s required. There’s of course annual continuing education requirements. There’s a public disciplinary process. So as we built the designation, we wanted to meet at a minimum, the industry requirements for any credential that’s recognized and credible, but then we wanted to up the standard even beyond that, because we know that it’s so important that we’re holding out people that really are genuinely desiring to bring competent, biblically based financial advice. And that’s what CK is all about.

Mary Jo:
Wow, Rob I’m impressed. Did I do all that? Oh, that’s awesome. So some of our listeners, they actually may know the name, Ron Blue, the founder of Kingdom Advisors, and for many years, he and Larry Burkett had another daily radio program that was heard across the nation. They know that Ron and Larry had a major impact, also, on Dave Ramsey, another well-known leader today on financial literacy from a Christian perspective. So as the founder of Kingdom Advisors, Ron Blue has an incredible story. Can you share some of those highlights with our listeners and maybe tell us what he’s up to these days?

Rob:
Yeah, I’d be delighted to. Ron is our founding director. Larry Burkett actually is the original founder of Kingdom Advisors, and their two worlds did intersect extensively over the years as they were really leading the charge toward a modern application to biblical principles and personal finance. And they really were the leaders along with Howard Dayton and just a few others. Really, it’s Ron’s vision that came after Larry Burkett’s death that is who Kingdom Advisors is today. And it begins with his personal mission statement, which was to help Christians plan and manage their finances to ultimately fund the great commission. His passion was that Christians, if they managed what God had entrusted to them well – lived within their means and set goals and had some margin in their lives and understood the dangers of debt and tried to limit that, that they could be incredibly generous. And that in that generosity, beyond the local church, they could actually fund the work of the great commission. And Ron did that in building Ronald Blue and Company, which is still today now known as Ronald Blue Trust, one of the largest Christian planning and investment companies and trust companies in the world, but also in building Kingdom Advisors, which after he left that company, he really became the head of Kingdom Advisors until just a few years ago. And really, his vision was this army that we talked about of men and women, like the two of you, who are committed to giving biblically wise, financial advice. Ron’s a prolific author. We in many ways think of him as the father of the Christian financial industry. And that’s a big idea, this idea of a Christian financial industry is something we didn’t really see until just around 2012 as we began to dream about really a true industry of Christian financial advice. And that includes not only advisors like you all who have earned CKAs, but it includes a growing number of services and products for Christians, including investment products. It includes all of the regulators and large firm leaders who are embracing this industry. It includes the Christians that are seeking advisors who can offer values alignment in their financial advice, and it even includes the universities. We have a growing number of Christian universities that are now bringing our training in to teach undergraduate students seeking a degree in financial planning. And they’re getting all this biblical worldview training on the front end. So as they enter the business, they have all the training that you all got years into your careers. And so, that’s a game changer as well, and you put all those pieces together and that’s what we call the Christian financial industry. And Ron really had the original vision for that.

Rob:
But today, he’s focused on something called the Ron Blue Institute, which is really that academic and university component of this industry as he’s traveling around the universities and meeting with presidents of Christian universities and helping them catch a vision for how they can bring this biblical worldview of money in for all of their students so they’re graduating with that understanding, but then also building these programs in the business schools to train the next generation of Kingdom Advisors.

New Speaker:
I want to tell you, from my own personal standpoint, I was listening to Ron Blue and Larry Burkett back in the late eighties. And they’re really two of the biggest mentors in my life for integrating Christian financial advice. So I must say that. Rob, I know that you have your own radio program now as well called “Money-wise”, which is actually Christian radio’s most popular financial program now, and it’s been on the air for a couple of years. The last I heard your program has over a million listeners on a weekly basis. So tell us about your daily radio program called Money-wise and how that’s going.

Rob:
Well, thanks for asking. It’s a real blessing. And actually, the program Money-wise is the legacy program of Larry Burkett. So Larry had a program called Money Matters, and then at Larry’s death, that was transitioned to the author and ministry leader, Howard Dayton, and Howard was the host of the program. It was renamed Money-wise at the time. And then Howard has just recently transitioned out of the role of host and I was named as the successor. And so this really is the legacy radio program of those two giants of the faith that have been so instrumental in my life. So it’s just an incredible honor to sit in that seat every day alongside Steve Moore, my co-host, who was Larry Burkett’s co host back in the early eighties and really just to bring biblical answers to financial questions through today’s media outlets. We bring an encouraging, hopeful message of biblical finance each day on the radio. We’re heard on 1500 radio stations with a program that has three different formats. So each day we have a 60 second Money-wise minute, we have the twenty-five minutes syndicated version of money-wise, and then the one hour live daily program called Money-wise live on the Moody Radio Network. And so when you combine all of that, it’s 1500 radio stations reaching over a million Christians each day, and it’s just so much fun. People invite us into their stories and into their lives through the questions they ask on the air and we get to encourage them. And again, bring them hope, point them back to God’s word, and then provide practical answers to their questions and issues. But I think really one of the distinctions of what we’re building at Money-wise, Mary Jo and Bob, is that we want to not only encourage people on the air as they listen to the program, but we ultimately want to connect them to somebody who can walk with them in their journey. And that’s really two different categories of people. We have our Money-wise coaches, and then we have our Certified Kingdom Advisors, like the two of you. So our Money-wise coaches are there to provide up to 12 weeks to walk with a listener who identifies themselves as wanting to engage in a coaching relationship at no cost and really just help them get on a spending plan, create a debt repayment plan, create a giving plan, learn some of these principles. And they do that free of charge, again, over the internet with video cameras and telephones and so forth. And it’s just a huge blessing to see the thousands of folks that are connecting with a Money-wise coach to get that kind of help on a one-on-one basis. And then of course, those who have been entrusted with more resources and need a professional, either financial planner or investment professional, CPA, or accountant, an estate planning attorney or an insurance professional, then that’s where our CKAs come in. And it makes me feel really good to know that we’re not just giving great advice on the radio and then saying, you go figure it out. We’re able to connect them to somebody who really cares about them, wants them to know God’s way of handling money, and can walk with them in their journey.

Mary Jo:
That’s amazing, that hope, providing the hope for listeners and good people that are maybe struggling a little bit with their financial future and putting them on the right course in a biblical way. It’s just a blessing to all of us to understand that. I want to change course just a little bit and talk a little bit about the national conference that Kingdom Advisors hosts every year. It’s an educational conference for advisors, and I have attended for the last two years. And I know Bob’s been many, many times and we always come away deeply inspired by the word of God. You give us great resources to share with our clients. I’ve been a financial advisor for many years in the corporate world, and I’ve been to a lot of national conferences, but never one like Kingdom Advisors and the praise and worship. I mean, it’s mind blowing.

Bob:
It is mind blowing. Thousands of financial advisors raising their hands in worship. That is pretty amazing.

Mary Jo:
Wow. It’s just incredible. So can you tell our listeners about the conference and why it’s so amazing and what you have planned for the future?

Rob:
Well, we love this event. I’ll tell you it’s something we look forward to every year and because of the size and scope of it, it’s become a year round planning effort. We’ve already had three creative team meetings for the 2020 conference. And it feels like we just finished the 2019 conference, but it is incredible. And like you said, it’s nothing like any financial conference that’s out there. And that’s why when people come to it, especially for the first time, they’re just blown away. First of all, to be in a room with that many financial advisors who are all there to grow in their own spiritual journey to worship, to be in community with one another, and to learn how to be better at bringing this biblical financial advice to their clients is just unlike any other gathering that exists. And then you add to it, the fact that it’s the gathering for this Christian financial industry. So there’s 60 exhibitors there, ministries, and organizations dedicated to serving the Christian advisor or the clients of the Christian advisor. It’s a totally unique event. Really the way we program it is from the main stage. It’s all about pouring into the advisor personally in their own spiritual journey. And so the main stage speakers are always Christian pastors and leaders, people like Rick Warren and Louie Giglio and Bob Goff and Alister Bag, and we could just name so many others, but just godly men and women who can just really pour into our attendees in their own journey because we say you can’t take a client where you haven’t been yourself. And so their own spiritual growth is so important. And then the worship and the testimonies that come to the main stage really are critical as well. The breakouts are how we really offer the technical side of delivering biblically wise financial advice.

Rob:
And so that’s all about the how tos. And then we throw in a lot of fun along the way. Usually, we’ll have a concert. Steven Curtis Chapman was there last year and Michael W. Smith the year before. We have an incredible concert planned for 2020. I can’t say yet who it is, but I can just tell you, you’re going to be really excited about it. Last year, we had fireworks for the first time. And so, I mean, you can imagine it is a wonderful three day event for 1500. It’s growing by 20% every year financial advisors, and we love putting it on.

Bob:
You can carry that with you, also, by the attendance a monthly Bible study that Kingdom Advisors does. We actually host one here in our office for advisors that want to learn more about integrating Christ in their practice. Rob, where do you see Kingdom Advisors going in the next 3, 5, and even 10 years? And then a question behind that is what are some of your favorite stories of advisors changing from a secular worldview of finance to a biblical one?

Rob:
Yeah, well, our vision, as I said, is 30,000 Christian financial advisors. And that’s really only about 10% of those who would say their faith is very important to them who hold to a Christian worldview in the financial services industry today. There’s about 300,000 of those that not only attend church regularly, but are also involved in either a small group Bible study or some sort of Sunday school or additional engagement at their local church, which evidences their commitment, but we’re looking for 30,000 really who are the best of the best and really want to focus their professional lives around delivering this Biblical financial advice, and then connected to that vision of 30,000 CKAs is really this growing demand among the Christian public for those advisors. And we look forward to the day that every Christian has access to and is aware of the fact that they can have a financial advisor who shares their values and has been specially trained to offer a biblical approach to finances. In terms of illustration of that, I mean, there are so many. One of the things that I most enjoy about the seat I sit in is I get to hear those testimonies of advisors who say, “Rob, this changes everything. I was tired of helping people build bigger barns. And I now have a different ‘why’ for going to work every day.” The story that comes to mind is an advisor actually in Canada who called me a little while back. And he said, Rob, I asked one question different today in a conversation with a client, and it’s because of Kingdom Advisors and it’s made all the difference. And I said, of course Brad. Tell me more. And he said, well, I had a client who was coming in and it was the conversation in our financial planning process where we deal with the estate and talk about where the money is going to go. And it’s just a normal part of our financial planning process that we do with every client. And so this client came in and said, we all agreed that after everything was settled, there was going to be about $2 million in the estate to pass on. And they had decided that they were going to give a million to each of their two boys. And the advisor said, Rob, because of my training at Kingdom Advisors, I felt like I should ask one additional question that I’ve never asked before. And so he said, what impact do you think that money will have on your boys? And he said, I felt like I was just supposed to be quiet and a minute passed, then 90 seconds, and tears started to come down the wife’s face. And the husband said, well, I can tell you that we’re pretty sure that at least one of them will use it for prostitution. That lead to another 45 minute conversation about the role of this money and what they could do to really help put this in the hands of the boys in a way that wouldn’t impact their spiritual journey and that could actually be a blessing. And so they reconstructed the entire plan over the next several weeks, and the boys are actually now involved in helping them give the majority of it away.

Bob:
Oh, that’s a beautiful story.

Rob:
It really is. And it really, I think, just illustrates the power of understanding that, as Ron Blue has taught us all, choosing the next steward and determining whether that steward is prepared is one of the critical and ultimately the last stewardship decision we will all make and recognizing that the legacy of a family, the spiritual legacy, is paramount and to the extent that the money could get in the way. And that’s not to say that it’s wrong to give money to your kids as an inheritance, the question is just, are they prepared for it? And what can we do to make sure they’re prepared for it? This perhaps is going to change the legacy of this family forever. I think it’s just a powerful illustration of what we’re talking about.

Bob:
I know that Mary Jo and I are always saying on our podcast, you’ve got to pass on wisdom first before you pass on money. If you pass money without passing wisdom, you’re setting your children up for failure.

Rob:
Yeah, that’s right.

Mary Jo:
So in your answer, Rob, you’ve given us so much about the benefits of working with the CKA, and I don’t mean to use lingo – Certified Kingdom Advisor. So what additional benefits come to mind as clients are seeking out advisors with this type of qualification? How can they find a Certified Kingdom Advisor in their area?

Rob:
Well, I think it really comes down to what we talked about earlier, and that is the key is values alignment and recognizing that it’s critical that you understand that the worldview and training of your advisor matters. And not that there’s anything better about a CKA versus a non CKA. It’s really about the differentiators, because there are clear planning differentiators, again, when you lay a biblical worldview on top of financial decision-making. I mean, there’s a completely different focus, first of all, on who owns the money, because we believe that according to Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” So therefore, God owns everything that puts us in a role of steward or caretaker or trustee. So then we should seek to be found faithful as a steward. We understand that we should hold money loosely because it’s not ours in the first place. And by being generous, that will ultimately break the power of money in our lives. We understand that even though the world tells us that our self-worth equals our net worth, that success is not just having a healthy bank account. We should be savers and diligence savers, and we should manage our money wisely, but ultimately our trust should be in God. Well, understanding all of these things is really a critical differentiator for a CKA. And then of course, those very specific areas that give rise to these planning differentiators, a focus on wise giving, a focus as we talked about just a moment ago on legacy planning, and the impact of money on the heirs. All of the differentiators about how we even approach retirement. And what does that look like biblically and what does the Bible say about debt? So I think these are just really important. And then lastly, I would just say the significant rigor associated with the training behind the designation, and then the oversight that we give at Kingdom Advisors. We have a public disciplinary process, which every legitimate designation does, that allows the public to submit complaints. If there ever is any reason they have concern about the advice they’re getting from an advisor or the way an advisor has acted and we have a review committee internally that oversees those. We ultimately have an external review committee of peers, if that’s necessary, and it can involve a revocation of the designation or a censure publicly if necessary. So we really are committed to making sure this is out there to protect the public and can really be positioned as the standard of excellence. So the way find a Certified Kingdom Advisor is you can either go to KingdomAdvisors.com or you can go to the brand new website of Moneywise radio, which is moneywise.org. Just click on find the Certified Kingdom Advisor. And you’ll be able to search by zip code for all of the CKAs in your area, and you’ll get them by proximity to your location.

Mary Jo:
Awesome.

Bob:
You’ve given us so much of your time today and answered so many questions that we had. I’ll tell you, when I came up with all these questions, Mary Jo and I, it took us about two minutes because we just had so many things we wanted to ask you. So one of my last questions is so much of what Kingdom Advisors inspires in both Christian advisors, as well as Christian clients, is in giving to kingdom causes. And is there anything new on the horizon that our listeners might be inspired by?

Rob:
Well, I would just be inspired by the work that God is doing all over the globe. I was just hearing the other day about the fact that the last unreached people group were expected to have a version of the Bible in their own native tongue, I believe it’s in 2035. So this generation will see the great commission fulfilled. And I believe that the Certified Kingdom Advisors we’ve been talking about today will be playing a critical role in the last part of the funding of that work. Not to mention all the other incredible work that’s being done around the globe to reach people in the name of Jesus and meet their needs both locally and abroad. So, I’m just so excited about the literally billions and billions of dollars that will flow into the work of the Lord and kingdom causes being done in the name of Christ to meet real needs and ultimately point people back to a Savior that they ultimately need. And so, I think that’s probably the most exciting thing about what’s happening at Kingdom Advisors today.

Mary Jo:
Rob, we want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy day, being a guest on Christian Financial Perspectives. And we want to thank our listeners for tuning in. We’re really excited as Certified Kingdom Advisors to bring this message out there. So any last thoughts you’d like to share?

Rob:
Well, let me just say how much I appreciate being invited today. I think the world of the two of you and you all have been such an important part of what we’ve been doing at Kingdom Advisors for a long time and just the work of this podcast and the people that you’re reaching on a monthly basis, not to mention the work you’re doing there in your practice. We’re just so thankful to be aligned with world-class advisors like the two of you. You’re just such a wonderful representation of everything that the Certified Kingdom Advisor designation and Kingdom Advisors as an organization stands for. Let me just say this as I wrap up. There’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, the late Larry Burkett used to say money is the clearest indicator into what’s going on in our lives spiritually. Think about that for a second, the way you spend your money, if you were to hand me your checkbook or print out your financial register from your online account, I can tell you what’s important to you because where we spend our money illustrates and highlights what’s most valuable to us.

Rob:
Jesus said that when he said where your treasure is there, your heart will be also. The thing I’ve been thinking about is is my spending an accurate picture of what’s really important to me, what matters most, or if not, do I want to make some changes? I think that’s something that could be a challenge to all of us is just to say, what do we really value? What’s most important to us and does the way we use this resource, this tool God has entrusted to us called money, really reflect accurately what’s most important to us. So I encourage you just to think about that today. And again, thank the two of you so much for the invitation and it’s really a privilege to be with you.

Bob:
You’re welcome, Rob. It’s been a privilege.

[DISCLOSURES]

Rob West and Kingdom Advisors are not affiliated with Christian investment advisors, Inc. Comments from today’s show are for informational purposes only and not to be considered investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any company that may have been mentioned or discussed. The opinions expressed are solely those of the hosts, Bob Barber and Mary Jo Lyons. Bob and Mary Jo do not provide tax advice and encourage you to seek guidance from a tax professional. Investment advisory services offered through Christian Investment Advisors Inc. DBA Christian Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor.