A New Beginning

The Financial Planning Association (FPA) is entering a new phase in its evolution.  Long-time FPA CEO Lauren Schadle has resigned, and the board is now looking for new leadership.

I became a vocal critic of Schadle’s predecessor, Marv Tuttle, who seemed to me to have been elevated to the CEO role on the basis of a lot of grandiose promises which, during his tenure in the early days of the FPA, he failed to live up to.  I was more than a bit dismayed when, after the FPA unexpectedly let Tuttle go, they forwent an outside search and immediately hired Schadle, who had been the number 2 person in what had become a highly-dysfunctional organization.  At the time, a former FPA executive reached out to me and asked me if I planned to criticize her the way I had criticized the way Tuttle was handling things, and my verbatim response was: “If she can’t turn around the FPA, then I’ll be the last of her worries.”

She didn’t.  Under Schadle’s leadership, the FPA membership declined further, and then there was the disastrous OneFPANetwork rollout, and continued decline of the magazine—and the bottom line here is that I have always wanted the FPA to succeed, and have been criticized for not being “supportive” of the staff leadership that I felt was consistently leading the organization in the wrong direction.

Regardless of who the FPA Board hires as its new CEO, I plan to renew my FPA membership and offer my help and support as the organization works to get back on its feet.  I feel a renewed hope that, after 20 years of decline and feckless floundering, the FPA has a chance to become what the IAFP and ICFP (predecessor organizations) had been: a vibrant community with the clear mission of building a new profession and supporting advisors in their routine efforts to support their clients.

To that end, I have a couple of suggestions for all of us to keep in mind as we contribute our time and energy.  The FPA needs, first and foremost, to build a sense of belonging and shared purpose, which means more interaction on the public forums, and a commitment to improving the quality of the Journal.  It means using the membership dues productively, to create services and information that its members will find useful in their business lives.  And it means using membership dues that have been flowing to headquarters to support the chapters, whose efforts and local programs have kept the FPA alive for the better part of two decades.

It means a willingness to rekindle a sense of purpose, what we once called a revolution against the self-interested brokerage model, to create a nationwide alliance of profesionals who put the interests of clients first, and who provide advice that builds security and wealth instead of commissions.

I hope you, like me, look forward to the long, difficult process of turning the dysfunctional organization we have today into a vibrant, strong Financial Planning Association that serves all of us as we work to serve its mission and purpose.

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