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Chairman-Elect Joe Votava Resigns From CFP Board of Directors

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The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards announced that veteran advisor Joe Votava resigned effective March 16, 2015, from his position as chair-elect and from the Board of Directors.

The notice in the CFP Board’s April 13 Update newsletter said Votava had resigned to “dedicate more time to his growing business and expanding family — including welcoming two new grandchildren.” The Board said that until it picks a new chairman-elect at its June meeting, that 2015 Chairman Rich Rojeck would fill Votava’s role, including leading the nomination for new Board members. Until June 10, the Board is accepting nominations for 2016 Board candidates, who will take office in January.

In its note, the Board noted Votava’s “decades of service to advance the financial planning profession.” That service included stints as chairman of the Board’s Public Policy Council, as chairman of the Financial Planning Assocation and chairman of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) Board of Trustees.

In response to emailed questions about Votava’s departure, CFP Board spokesman Dan Drummond wrote that that Votava’s resignation “was unexpected. That said, we fully understand Mr. Votava’s desire to devote more time to his growing business and expanding family and we respect his decision.” His resignation “doesn’t impact the nomination process for 2016 Board members. That process will continue as scheduled and will be led by Rich Rojeck, CFP, CFP Board’s Chair.”

Michael Kitces, writing in his Nerd’s Eye view blog on Tuesday, wondered “why would a veteran leader of the financial planning profession choose to capstone his volunteer career with an abrupt resignation as the chair-elect of the CFP Board, and was the CFP Board trying to bury the announcement by quietly revealing it in the second paragraph of its monthly update email?”

Kitces went on to speculate whether Votava’s decision was “really just triggered by a change of heart and a desire to spend more time with family, or is the reality that there is still trouble brewing with the Camarda case, and no one wants to be in the position of responsibility when the final verdict comes?”

The well-documented Camarda case concerns a suit filed against the CFP Board by Jeff and Kim Camarda over Board sanctions against their use of “fee only” to describe their Florida planning firm. 

But Drummond wrote that “there is nothing more to Mr. Votatva’s resignation. Mr. Votava resigned to dedicate more time to his growing business and expanding family.”

When his election as chairman was announced last August, then-Chairman Ray Ferrara said he expected Votava, 61, to “harness his extensive leadership experience to sustain CFP Board’s mission of benefiting the public by upholding the CFP certification as the recognized standard of excellence in personal financial planning.”

An attorney as well as a CFP and a CPA, Votava is partner/CEO of Seneca Financial Advisors LLC, an RIA firm based in Rochester, New York, and Washington, D.C., with $213 million in regulatory assets under management.

In an Investment Advisor cover story profile in July 2004, it’s clear that Votava was a pioneer in not only providing true comprehensive wealth management to clients (since the 1980s in fact, at the financial planning arm of big law firm Nixon Peabody), but also in using technology to become more efficient, in directing clients’ philanthropic efforts and in charging clients by annual retainer or an AUM or hourly fee.

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