A PricewaterhouseCoopers advisor with more than 20 years' experience in the financial planning field has been named 2005 chair-elect of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Barton Francis, 44, of Vienna, Va., will take the position January 1, when current chair-elect Glenn Pape will assume the role of CFP board of governors chairman.
Francis currently is director of the Personal Financial Services Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers in McLean, Va. During his career, Francis has managed to spend time in the worlds of both independent financial planning firms and the Big Few accounting firms.
Before joining Pricewaterhouse Coopers, he was president of Evensky, Brown & Katz in Coral Gables, Fla., and a partner with Ernst & Young. Given the breadth of his background, Francis may be able to build bridges with allied professionals, particularly accountants.
Speaking of the issues facing the organization in 2005, Francis says he expects activity in the areas of public education, revision of the CFP Board ethics code and a review of the organization's strategic goals. The appointment of a permanent CEO also is likely to be on the board's agenda. The board has been searching for a new chief executive since the abrupt resignation of Louis Garday in the spring.
Several observers, Francis among them, expect a CEO to be named by year-end. "I think at this point the board has been very deliberate and careful and wants to make sure we have a long-term" replacement, says Francis, who is not a member of the search committee. "However, I think there will be good news by the end of the year."
Francis adds that the organization has not been slowed in the interim, as acting chief executive Gary Diffendaffer has been moving the organization forward. "Gary has been doing a tremendous job, and I think the standard has been higher than business as usual," he says. "There are a number of long-term, important projects that should be coming to intermediate fruition within the next several months, and a lot of that has to do with Gary's stewardship."
Among the projects, he says, is an expansion of the organization's public education services. That education effort would apparently be aimed at clarifying the meaning of a CFP certification for consumers, who often are confronted with an alphabet soup of certificant marks among financial advisors. "I do believe the public doesn't understand what the significance is of various certifications, and even the distinction between industry terms such as investment advisor and broker," says Francis, whose certificates include CFP, CPA and CIMA. "Another thrust is to take a look at helping underserved members of the public."
Another important issue next year, he says, will be the board's consideration of code of ethics revisions. "The revision to the code is important because of some of the issues we faced in the late 90s and early 2000," he says. "We have to make sure CFP certificants represent the highest standards in ethical behavior."
The revisions, he says, should be going out for public comment within the next several months. Francis was elected to the board of governors in 2003. He also has served on the Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.