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NAPFA Elects Lauren Locker to Replace Ron Rhoades as Chair

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The board of directors for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) announced Tuesday that it elected certified financial planner Lauren Locker as national chairwoman late last Friday to fill the position recently vacated by Ron Rhoades, who stepped down from the position after committing a compliance violation.

Lauren Locker, NAPFA's newly elected chairLocker (left), who founded Locker Financial Services in Little Falls, N.J., in 1992, assumed the role Sept. 1. She became a CFP in 1994 and joined NAPFA in 1998. Locker is the immediate past chairwoman of NAPFA’s Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Board and has served on NAPFA’s National Board for the past two years.

No other NAPFA members stepped forward as candidates for the top office, choosing instead to support Locker’s candidacy.

“I have a keen understanding of how NAPFA operates and what its members expect,” Locker said in a phone interview with AdvisorOne on Tuesday.  “I attend a lot of conferences, and  I really try to interact with a lot of folks and listen very carefully to what everybody wants. I think the key for NAPFA is our grand goal of becoming the recognized and unquestioned leader in supporting the professional growth and business development of extraordinary financial advisors.”

Asked if she was departing National Chairwoman Susan John’s protege, Locker chuckled and answered that John’s help and support were part of the reason why she even agreed to throw her hat in the ring.

“It’s so much easier for me to step in because of the work she has done. Susan hasn’t left any stone unturned,” Locker said. “She has also agreed to be available to me for any questions I need answered. She had a two-year run. So she served her time and more.”

Explaining the electoral process that led to her being tapped as chairwoman, Locker said that NAPFA was anxious to fill the vacancy that Rhoades left so suddenly on Aug. 20. Rhoades made the decision to step down voluntarily, without first notifying the NAPFA board, after learning that as chief compliance officer of his Alfred, N.Y.-based firm, ScholarFi, he had failed to file timely registration papers with the State of Florida Division of Securities.

Due to the short time frame available to any board member interested in stepping up, Locker responded quickly to the call, “and it seemed that others with interest in the position supported my candidacy based upon my prior board experience,” she explained in an e-mail.

“Normally, you give a position paper and the board gets to review it, and they’ll take a look at all the candidates,” Locker said in the phone interview. “In this instance, because of the short timeframe, I had a list of eight questions that the board contributed to. I answered those eight questions for them, and then we had a board meeting [in a conference phone call] in which they could ask additional questions, and then a vote was taken. The questions ranged from ‘What do you expect to do for NAPFA?’ to ‘How are you going to run the meetings?’ to ‘Are there any regulatory issues we should know about?’ That was a big ‘No.’”

One of Locker’s objectives as chairwoman is to help ensure that NAPFA’s fiduciary perspective is well-represented nationally. To be sure, Locker’s task of representing NAPFA’s position on the fiduciary standard comes as the group deals with the absence of Rhoades, who had made a very public name for himself in stating his views on the self-regulatory organization (SRO) debate and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Both Rhoades and NAPFA have opposed shifting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s examination of independent small advisors to FINRA.

Asked about the how it feels to be replacing Rhoades, Locker said: “Ron and his high standards and ethics are really what NAPFA members are about. I am, however, not Ron Rhoades, except we do both wear glasses. His passion for FINRA and the SRO debate—I think he is one in a million for that. Fortunately, he still is a member of NAPFA, and I think he’ll still be very vocal. The good news is I don’t have to be the sole spokesperson, as Ron was, but I can work very closely with our members and make certain that our voices are going to be heard in terms of where the profession is headed regarding the FINRA debate.”

Locker established her practice to work with middle-income individuals, especially women and nontraditional families, according to the announcement of her election. During her more than 20 years in the field, she has seen a growing demand for financial services that focus on the aging and elderly population. To better serve this group of clients, she completed the requirements to become a registered financial gerontologist (RFG) as well as a certified senior advisor. She also created a new division of her business, ElderLife, to work specifically with aging adults as they create a roadmap for she calls their “later-life” journey.