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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Kitces Blasts FPA for Electing TD's Skip Schweiss

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Popular blogger and financial advisor Michael Kitces is criticizing the Financial Planning Association for electing TD Ameritrade executive Skip Schweiss as its new president-elect.

Calling the FPA’s move a “bombshell announcement,” Kitces stated that, among other issues, Schweiss is not a certified financial planner and that TD Ameritrade lobbies against a uniform fiduciary standard — which the FPA supports.

Schweiss “will be the first-ever FPA Chair that doesn’t actually hold the CFP mark (even as FPA promotes itself as the principal membership association of CFP professionals),” Kitces wrote in a Thursday blog post titled “FPA Selects Largest Corporate Sponsor As First Ever Vendor Representative To Become National Board President.”

The FPA announced Wednesday, the first day of its national conference in Minneapolis, that Schweiss, president of TD Ameritrade Trust Co. who also is managing director of advisor advocacy and industry affairs for TD Ameritrade Institutional, has been named the group’s president-elect for 2020. He will become president in 2021.

Schweiss will serve a one-year term beginning Jan. 1, succeeding Martin Seay, who will replace Evelyn Zohlen as president.

A Friday tweet links to his blog, in which Kitces criticized Schweiss’ new role by stating: FPA Selects Largest Corporate Sponsor As First Ever Vendor Representative to Become National Board President.

Kitces’ blog states that Schweiss will be the “first-ever Chair who represents a vendor whose business is selling solutions to FPA members.”

“Even more concerning is the fact that TD Ameritrade itself has been the FPA’s leading top-tier sponsor nearly every year for more than a decade, which means that, with its current ‘Cornerstone Partner’ $200k annual sponsorship commitment, TD Ameritrade has cumulatively written upwards of $1 – 2 million in sponsorship checks over the past decade!” Kitces writes.

The FPA said in a statement reacting to Kitces’ blog that “Skip is an extraordinarily skilled leader with unquestionable character and integrity who has been an unwavering supporter and advocate of the financial planning profession, the CFP marks and an unambiguous fiduciary standard of care. He is an exceptional leadership choice for FPA.”

TD Ameritrade said that it stands with the FPA’s statement.

Beyond the sponsorship conflict of interest, Kitces also highlights TD Ameritrade’s “history of lobbying on regulatory issues in a manner that directly opposes the FPA’s own advocacy for a uniform fiduciary standard for all investment advisors and broker-dealers providing financial advice.”

Asked Kitces: “If the future CEO of TD Ameritrade someday calls Skip Schweiss and asks him to dissuade FPA from advocacy for a fiduciary standard that harms TD Ameritrade’s retail business interests, how exactly is Schweiss supposed to handle that conflict if his job is on the line?”

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