The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has named Sarah Ball Teslik as its new chief executive officer. Teslik currently is executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Institutional Investors (CII), but could step into her new role as early as the end of this month.

In a recent interview, Teslik said she is resolving a few issues concerning her current position and will know shortly how quickly she will be able to start her new job. She has promised to be on board no later than January 1, but hopes to be at the CFP Board as early as the end of October, she said.

The Denver-based board has been without a CEO since Louis J. Garday unexpectedly resigned in July 2003 after two years on the job. Garday, a Denver CPA and former investment banker, came into the position without a background in financial planning.

The 51-year-old Teslik does not have a background in financial planning either, but she has other experience the board feels is very valuable.

"We wanted a person with Sarah's background and experience, including her ability to be heard in Washington, D.C. Her appointment gives CFP Board the ability to take itself to the next level, for the public, in terms of shaping the legislative and regulatory environment in which CFP certificants operate on behalf of their clients," says David Diesslin, CFP Board's Board of Governors Chair, in a prepared statement.

As the CII's executive director, Teslik, a lawyer, manages the organization's staff, operations, finances and legal activities. The organization's members include 250 pension funds and investment professionals responsible for more than $3 trillion in assets. CII only addresses investment issues that are important to its members, Teslik says, and that might be done by suing a company that has behaved badly on the part of shareholders, for example. It often supports issues that give more power to shareholders, such as reforming corporate governance policies.

Teslik, who has been working at CII for 16 years, says although she doesn't have a background in financial planning, she does have the experience to balance business and policy goals, something the CFP Board needs. "I'm fascinated by management and executive issues," she says. "My first love is trying effectively to work with a group of people to achieve common goals."

She notes the CFP Board understands its core function is holding the right standards for the CFP credential, something that takes constant work and oversight. "You have to set the exam, decide what's in it and what's not, what the pass rate will be, you have to provide monitoring. It's not something you coast on," she says.

The board also recognizes that part of the value of the CFP mark is how it fits into the policy world, and that's much trickier to accomplish, she adds. One issue is how quality financial planning can be provided to those who can't afford it, but you can't do that by saying advisors must become volunteers, she notes.

New means of delivering financial planning to reach new audiences must be considered to achieve that goal, Teslik says. For example, providing financial planning in a group setting might work in some instances, she adds.

Issues like this will become increasingly important as the baby boomers retire. "There are many solidly employed people who won't have enough to retire on, so suddenly it becomes important how to handle limited resources in retirement," she says.

Much of financial planning has been targeted to affluent individuals, but more needs to be done to reach individuals of more modest means and convince them they need financial planning, too. "It's expanding the potential markets significantly," Teslik says. "There are large numbers of Americans who can pay for some kind of financial planning, but the content has to be tailored to their needs and pocketbooks."