For 15 years or more, I’ve been trying to figure out what is wrong with CFP Board; why every few years they seem to come out of left field with some decision or initiative, why the CEO office has a revolving door, why competent, reasonable, intelligent industry leaders seem to get lobotomized when they go on the Board and why they don’t seem to get the whole let’s-create-a-profession thing. After toying with a number of theories including lead in the drinking water in Denver (which by the way would explain a lot of other industry mysteries as well) and under-the-table payoffs by the ICI, I’d finally concluded the Board was simply insular, out of touch, secretive, and had its own agenda, of which the rest of financial planning only occasionally caught a glimpse.
But no, it turns out the problem was really a fifth choice–none of the above– and was in fact so blatantly obvious as to shame those of us who purport to reflect on the state of the planning profession. The real trouble with the CFP Board is (drum roll…wait for it): That it’s been located in Denver. I know, it just makes you want to slap yourself in the forehead and mutter the immortal words of Roberto De Vicenzo after he was informed that he signed an incorrect scorecard to lose the 1968 Masters by one shot (“What a stupid I am”).
Now It Makes sense
What’s more, after finally recognizing the root cause of so many missteps, those poignant protectors of planning literally leapt into action, announcing on April 11, their intention to move to that incubator of clear thinking: Washington, D.C. The Board’s release went on to leave little room to doubt the wisdom of its move: “After careful study, the Board recently concluded that the future success of the organization was dependent upon its close proximity to regulators, policymakers, and other industry and credentialing organizations that influence debates within the industry.” The release went on to disclose that the details of the relocation would be handled by the deckchair rearranging department of the SS Titanic Moving Co., LLC.
One can only speculate on the connection between the relocation solution and the announcement of the hiring of Kevin Keller, as the new CEO, made only seven days later. Perhaps merely the notion of moving out of Denver cleared the Board’s synapses sufficiently to realize the folly of hiring Denver-based CEO Lou Garday to save on relocation expenses, and instead saved those costs by moving the organization to Keller in Washington.
On paper anyway, Keller appears to be the best of recent CEO choices. Of course, following a domineering autocrat, a REIT salesman, and a loony isn’t that hard an act to follow. Keller’s resume includes 16 years at the Association of Financial Professionals, the last seven of which as senior VP and COO. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the AFP, it’s an organization that provides professional certification, standards CE, and lobbying to 16,000 CFOs, treasurers, financial analysts, and cash managers at the country’s largest companies. Who better to head an organization of 50,000 financial planners whose job it is to protect their clients from the CFOs, treasurers, and financial analysts (among others) at some of the nation’s largest companies? At least he’ll know where some of the bodies are buried. I wonder if Jeffery Skilling was an AFP member?
I became a Kevin Keller fan when I read Board chair Karen Schaeffer’s explanation of why they hired him: “Kevin has a unique set of skills that will help keep CFP Board relevant and ensure the standards of the CFP marks.” Even though she failed to elaborate on just what those skills might be, I’m guessing X-ray vision, faster than a speeding locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And I’m sure it’s purely a coincidence that the CEO of the AFP (and Keller’s former boss) sits on the CFP Board.
Now You really Sold me