New FPA boss Schadle walking into fiduciary feud

Unifying membership amid division over business model a big obstacle

Aug 22, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

By Darla Mercado

The Financial Planning Association's new chief executive, Lauren M. Schadle, doesn't start her new job for more than a month, but she already has a full load of headaches

Currently chief operating officer at the organization, Ms. Schadle will take over her new post Oct. 3. Her predecessor, Marvin W. Tuttle announced yesterday that he will step down Oct. 2 due to a significant health issue in his family. He was originally slated to retire in 2014.

His replacement faces some pressing challenges. The FPA wants to be the primary organization for planners, but members are split into two sometimes-opposing camps. Some are fee-only fiduciary advisers. Others are commission-based brokers.

Unifying the two sides already is a priority for Ms. Schadle. “We're putting together action plans that speak to the FPA's being the professional resource and advocate for CFP professionals,” she said. “We believe that one profession and one designation is the best way to build the financial planning profession.”

“The challenge is connecting to those individuals who are practicing in different environments to see that the FPA is welcoming,” said Nicholas A. Nicolette, principal of Sterling Financial Planning Inc. and 2007 FPA president. “FPA is about being in a larger community.”

Other hurdles exist, as well. Ms. Schadle must demonstrate that the FPA is providing real benefits to its members. Noting that practice management will be an area of focus, Ms. Schadle said: “We look forward to working on value that's going to help our members be more successful in their practices.”

She also must come up with new ways to expand the ranks of the association, advisers said. Such a goal will require the group to rethink how it interacts with advisers, particularly the next generation, said Richard Salmen, senior vice president at GTrust Financial Partners and 2009 FPA president.

“If the FPA can be the catalyst for helping college programs and getting people connected with the association, it'll be a huge win for all of us,” he said.

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