Treyton DeVore & Adam Blumberg
January 4, 2022
There are countless designations and certifications in the financial services industry, yet they all have one thing in common:
Centralized board authority
An appointed board of directors is responsible for the direction, future, and qualifications for the designation that they created.
As an advisor, I might get a designation because I want clients and prospects to know I’ve gone through more intense training - but then I need to count on the board, or the creators of the designation, to market and continue increasing the value of my knowledge. As the industry, technology, and needs of the clients change, I need the designation to keep up.
There’s never been a solution needed for a designation to truly “keep up” because there hasn’t been a big enough catalyst yet to force change.
With the digital shift underway, the Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA) certification was birthed in 2020.
Originally created by Interaxis co-founders - Adam Blumberg, CFP® and Ron Dixon, FMVA® - the CDAA started out centralized just like all the other designations. They knew the designation and certification would have to be managed by an independent group, like a Board of Directors.
Coincidentally, in May 2021, Steve Larsen had the idea for PlannerDAO, and the decision to move the management and governance of the CDAA to a DAO made too much sense. Having a decentralized organization own the designation also goes along with the core beliefs of the economic system being taught in the courses.
So the key decision was made in June 2021 to decentralize it, staying true to the core vision of the asset class.
Adam and Ron saw the statement that could be made—and the opportunities that could be created for the industry—by handing the designation over to a group for management and governance.
And they did.
The CDAA is now owned by PlannerDAO, the first decentralized organization to exist in the financial services industry.
This is important because it goes along with the ethos of crypto and DeFi - we decentralize as much as we can.
But what does "decentralization" in this context mean?
In the case of the CDAA and PlannerDAO, it means anyone in financial services can become a member of the organization, then join the Education Working Group and help manage the designation.
When have you ever had the chance to have an impact on your new certification almost immediately?
It also means the designation is more malleable than most. Having an engaged group interested in the value and impact on the industry, and on clients, allows us to meet regularly, and act quickly when we realize we need to make changes. We have already added Knowledge and Proof Standards. The finance and crypto environment change quickly, so we need to be able to address the changes to technology, regulation, and demand.
And because of the decentralized nature, we don’t have to worry that large, established players are going to push the certification toward their own interests.
The CDAA can remain relevant because it is managed by the very financial services professionals that are using it most.
Most importantly, those of us that are members of PlannerDAO all have an interest, and incentive, to make the CDAA valuable. Beyond just wanting our own clients and prospects to see the value of our knowledge, we all benefit when any part of the DAO become more valuable, and this benefit is reflected in the PLAN token.
To summarize the importance...as an advisor, I can take a CDAA course and pass the exam. I can then join PlannerDAO, join the Education Working Group, and in the next week I can already be making a positive impact on direction of the designation, which has a positive impact on my clients and my own value.
The path we're going down hasn't been taken before. We see the direction the industry is heading and the problems that already exist and we're doing what we believe to be the right thing in decentralizing the designation, allowing it to be governed by the advisors using the designation, facilitating value to those advisors through the PLAN token, and growing through external education partners.
So now that the designation is decentralized, what's next? We've got a few things in motion.
Any education partner can create their own content around these topics, get it approved by the CDAA Education Working Group, and then offer it to financial professionals for a fee. Students then take a cumulative final exam, written by members of the Education Working Group, to get their certification.
What’s a rebrand without a new website?
The CertifiedDigital.org site is more than just a static, outdated designation site.
It’s a portal into the financial services digital world.
A few key features we built are:
CDAA Graduate Profiles: Every advisor who takes the Certified Digital Asset Advisor coursework and passes the comprehensive exam has a chance to submit their information to be featured on our consumer-facing CDAA directory. This will provide backlinks to advisor sites and gives investors a place to view (and work with) crypto-educated fiduciary financial advisors. While the education and exam has a cost, we aim to drive value back to advisors through our Find-A-CDAA search.
Media: One way the designation will drive value back to CDAA graduates is through our media arm. There are few advisors in the industry with extensive knowledge around digital assets and we've already received media requests without a proper process in place, so we created a Media page. This highlights articles and content that CDAA graduates have been featured in and allows publications to submit media requests that will be distributed to CDAA graduates for quotes.
Crypto in Your Life: Our new blog, Crypto in Your Life, is a consumer-facing blog that aims to become a trusted voice in retail investor education around digital assets.
Unlock token integration: One of the first additions to the new site will be an integration with Unlock Protocol, transforming the site into a Web 3.0 experience. While we're still ironing out all the details, early plans are to gate continuing education resources and exclusive content on site, to be unlocked by connecting your wallet and holding the CDAA NFT
CDAA exam onsite: Once we have some time to breathe, we'll be adding the CDAA exam to the CertifiedDigital.org site for a uniform, scalable exam process.
The takeaway here is that something special is being built. A multi-century old industry, ripe for disruption, is being disrupted.
An industry known for centralization and gatekeeping can't continue on its same path in the direction the world is going.
Whether digital assets reach mass adoption or not, there are problems that exist in the industry that can be solved through community and unified voice.
And that voice can be aligned and amplified within PlannerDAO. Being the first decentralized community of financial professionals, we have an opportunity.
An opportunity to make a difference.
And it starts with you.
A movement begins with one person with a chip on their shoulder, a community to represent, or a vision to fulfill.
And as an advisor, we know that the industry doesn't provide the equality and equity that it should. That's why we're rebuilding it, in a decentralized manner, day by day - starting with education.
Education is an unlock for opportunities and when we exist in an industry fueled by education, we believe it has to be provided in a way that benefits the advisors doing the work the most. We shouldn't have the future of our hard-earned designations controlled by a board who doesn't know what it's like to be a practicing advisor in today's world.
The CDAA is being built with intention. We believe this is how certifications and designations should operate, and we believe this is how they will operate in the future.
We're building the framework so other designations—from all industries—can follow suit and create designations that are in the graduate's best interests.
And the best part of it all? There's no gatekeeper stopping you from being apart of what we're building.
Become a CDAA, join PlannerDAO, and become an integral part in the future direction of the industry.
Enroll in the next CDAA cohort starting January 10th - and learn how to compliantly integrate crypto in your practice & help educate your clients on the digital shift taking place (or someone else will).