The Financial Planning Association has named Lauren Schadle to succeed Marv Tuttle as its CEO and executive director on October 3, immediately following its annual FPA Experience conference in San Antonio.

Tuttle had planned to retire in 2014, but cited family concerns for the change in timing. FPA's national board said the selection of Schadle was unanimous. The move comes at a moment for FPA that Tuttle himself described as "a very critical time in its history." In an interview, FPA president Paul Auslander said the association "requires a retooling" that is unrelated to the move.

Since FPA was formed in 2000 via the merger of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP) and the International Association For Financial Planning, it has seen its membership ranks decline from about 29,000 to 23,800 while other associations have enjoyed growth. In recent months, however, Auslander reports FPA has seen membership finally start to tick upwards.

Part of the attrition occurred in 2003 when FPA's board decided to ask its broker-dealer division to leave and form the Financial Services Institute (FSI). The move made strategic sense for both groups, but FSI, with more than 35,000 members today, has more members than FPA. Most FSI members receive subsidized dues from their broker-dealers, so the comparison involves some major differences, but the numbers still are striking.

Some believe that FPA's multi-faceted mission from its inception has caused a lack of focus. The association views itself as a professional group that promotes financial planning to the public, provides information and education for professional advancement to financial advisors and advocates on behalf of consumers and investors.

In contrast, the Investment Management Consultants Association sees its mission as administering the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation, while FSI focuses on advocacy issues affecting the brokerage community at the federal and state level.

Paul Auslander, president of FPA, acknowledges there is merit to this analysis. "Part of our strategic focus is to narrow" the mission and concentrate on a few core "missions instead of trying to save the world," he said.

One key challenge confronting FPA is its aging membership. Auslander noted that his successor as president-elect, Michael Branham, is 38, and a current candidate to succeed Branham is 36.

"The emphasis on Gen X and Y is huge. They do not look [at membership] as an obligation," he said. "They look at it as what have you done for me and what have you done lately?" It is up to the association to demonstrate it offers value for $385 a year.

With 17,000 of its 23,800 members CFP licenses, Auslander believes there should be room to increase membership among the 67,000 designation holders in the U.S. He estimates that 17,000 are academics and human resources professionals, but most of the rest are practicing advisors.

At the same time, many other associations are confronting similar challenges. Twenty-five years ago, 50% of all doctors belonged to the American Medical Association. Today that figure is 24%, Auslander noted, as many physicians have joined associations focused on specialties like ophthalmology or cardiology.

Having begun his career with the ICFP in 1983, Tuttle is popular and widely respected. When he became CEO of FPA in 2004, the association was already experiencing membership attrition in the wake of the merger and the 2000-2001 recession. Auslander praised him as "a true collaborative leader," whose influence extends far beyond FPA.

Schadle joined the ICFP in 1996 and was promoted to chief operating officer and associate executive director in 2006. "She has absolute loyalty from the staff and this provides continuity," he said.

-Evan Simonoff