Professional Designations

What is a Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA)?

By  Mike Zaccardi

Disclaimer: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

The Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA) designation is for financial professionals focused on helping individuals manage digital assets including cryptocurrencies and tokens like NFTs. This asset class has emerged as a hot area for investment among younger investors and is increasingly seeing mainstream adoption. In fact, the total cryptocurrency market cap surpassed $2 trillion in 2021 and many analysts believe it will only grow as new money is allocated to this space.

Read on to learn more about the CDAA designation, what it takes to earn it, and if hiring a CDAA credentialed financial professional may be right for you.

What is a Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA)?

A financial professional who has earned the CDAA designation understands blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that are built on the blockchain. They know several valuation methods and theories around Bitcoin and digital assets. And they can help clients make more informed and educated decisions when deciding which cryptocurrencies to invest in, when to buy and sell, and the considerable risks of investing in this emerging asset class.

As crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and related investment offerings come to market, a CDAA can help their clients understand how these products work. Finally, a CDAA advisor can perform due diligence on digital assets and investment opportunities with a keen eye and technical knowledge not commonly found today among financial advisors.

First created in 2020 by Interaxis, a research organization and consultancy focused on digital asset education, oversight for the Certified Digital Asset Advisor program was transferred in 2021 to PlannerDAO, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization established to promote fiduciary financial planning globally. A goal of PlannerDAO is for the CDAA to become the leading provider of digital asset education for financial advisors in the U.S.

From a practical perspective, an advisor who has earned this designation can have intelligent and actionable conversations with clients about portfolio allocations to digital assets. They can also execute transactions to provide their clients with exposure to crypto. From a risk management perspective, a CDAA knows the technical and fundamental risks of this asset class and knows how to evaluate them from a portfolio viewpoint. It is also important for advisors to understand digital asset investments versus speculation. A CDAA can source cryptocurrency providers and systems for clients. Finally, a CDAA helps craft estate plans for those holding digital currencies.

An advisor holding the CDAA credential helps individuals make decisions about owning cryptocurrency and other digital assets. With Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other coins talked about non-stop in today’s financial media, investors want advisors to have a firm grasp on how these assets work. Crypto is likely not going away, but advisors who refuse to attempt to understand this marketplace could miss out on a growing niche of the investor community.

Should You Hire a Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA)?

You should consider hiring an advisor who has the CDAA designation if you already own or are interested in owning significant digital assets like cryptocurrency. Advisors who have earned this credential can explain digital assets, crypto, blockchain, stablecoins, and decentralized finance (DeFi).

Beyond the CDAA designation, you may also want to consider working with a financial advisor who has earned their Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets (CBDA). Financial advisors who have earned either their CDAA designation or CBDA certificate demonstrate their commitment to understanding digital assets to help you invest wisely in cryptocurrencies and related products.

What Does it Take to Earn and Maintain the CDAA Designation?

According to certifieddigital.org, the CDAA curriculum is developed and presented by Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), university finance faculty, and financial planners with years of digital asset experience. The instructors have created hundreds of video lessons over several years, explaining crypto, digital assets, and blockchain technology.

The course spans six weeks. It includes the following:

  • 2 hours per week of on-demand video content. Candidates consume detailed and technical content on their schedule.
  • 2 hours live discussion where instructors answer questions based on the technical content first. The course then dives into real-life situations and active client planning scenarios.
  • Candidates must complete homework each week. They are given a small task to better understand how Bitcoin and digital assets work.

The course begins with the basics of Bitcoin. Discussions are then conducted on cryptography and the technology that developed the first cryptocurrency. Candidates learn how Bitcoin mining works, and some of the key characteristics of public blockchains.

The curriculum then describes how to transact crypto along with the teachings on how digital wallets and private and public keys work.

From there, valuation instruction is presented along with portfolio allocation thoughts and strategies for advisors. An understanding of why an individual investor would put money to work in digital assets is given.

The back half of the course includes lessons on how crypto funds and separately managed accounts (SMAs) work. Drawbacks of Bitcoin are brought up in week 5 along with an investigation into the rise of Ethereum and other smart contract-based blockchains and consensus algorithms like proof of stake.

The coursework wraps up with a look at the future of digital assets—DeFi is explained. Security tokens, finding additional yield (and its associated risks), and future alternative assets are presented.

How To Find A Financial Advisor Who Has Earned their Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA) Designation

In the coming months, you’ll find a growing number of financial advisors featured on Wealthtender who have earned their Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA) designation.

You can also browse the directory of CDAA designation holders on the Certified Digital Asset Advisor website.

And you may also want to consider researching financial advisors in the Wealthtender community who indicate cryptocurrency as an area of specialization and advisors who hold their Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets (CBDA).

If you have an interest in adding digital assets to your portfolio, consider these tips and questions to ask a financial advisor to learn if they understand the opportunities and risks of investing in cryptocurrencies to help you make more informed decisions with your money.

Featured CDAA Designation Holders on Wealthtender


ASK THE EXPERT

Q: If a client approaches you to ask if they should allocate a portion of their 401k savings into Bitcoin, how do you respond?

We asked Alexis and Tim Woodward, co-founders of Blend Wealth and CDAA designation holders to answer this question. Here’s what they said.

Alexis Woodward, CFP®, CDAA Wealth planning for blended families.

When deciding to invest in anything new, we strongly feel that process should begin with education. If you are crypto curious about investing in Bitcoin, we would start the conversation with an introduction to Bitcoin, it’s history and it’s use cases. We would also discuss it’s return and risk profile, paying particular attention to its volatility.

Show more

Alexis Woodward, CFP®, CDAA | Blend Wealth

Tim Woodward, CFP®, CDAA, MBA Blending money & marriage for families

If you are comfortable with these attributes of Bitcoin in theory, we’d recommend you start with a small initial investment and monitor the position over time to reconfirm your investment decision. If this initial holding period is comfortable for you, then we would discuss increasing your allocation of Bitcoin up to a range of ~1-5% of your total portfolio, while taking into consideration your unique goals, risk score and net worth until we get to the appropriate target allocation that is best for you. We feel this allocation range would be adequate enough to provide meaningful exposure and diversification to your portfolio.

Show more

Tim Woodward, CFP®, CDAA, MBA | Blend Wealth

FAQs

How Can I Confirm the Financial Professional I’m Working with Holds the CDAA?

You can contact CertifiedDigital.org using the website’s contact page. You can also browse the directory of CDAA designation holders on the Certified Digital Asset Advisor website.

What if I Have a Complaint About the CDAA Designation Holder I’m Working With?

You can fill out this complaint form which will be submitted to the CDAA Ethics Council, a Working Group within PlannerDAO. A member of the council will address the concern within 7-10 business days and will contact you if needed and if you have chosen to give your contact information.

I’m a financial advisor with a Certified Digital Asset Advisor (CDAA) Designation interested in joining Wealthtender. How should I get started?

Thanks for your interest in joining Wealthtender. We’re excited to help financial advisors with a passion for blockchain and digital assets connect with investors interested in this growing alternative asset space. You can learn more about Wealthtender by visiting this page: Modern Advisor Marketing ™ with Wealthtender

Where can I learn more about other professional designations held by financial advisors and coaches?

Refer to this list of popular financial certifications prepared by Wealthtender to help you learn more about each designation. You’ll find a brief description of each certification, plus links to in-depth articles if you want to learn more about a particular designation.


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Mike Zaccardi CFA

About the Author

Mike Zaccardi, CFA®

Mike is a freelance writer for financial advisors and investment firms. He’s a CFA® charterholder and Chartered Market Technician®, and has passed the coursework for the Certified Financial Planner program. 

Disclaimer: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.