The CFP Board of Standards, which has had trouble keeping CEO's the past several years, is hoping a 20-year veteran of a financial services membership organization will be the stabilizing force the organization needs.

   The CFP Board announced that it has hired a new CEO with extensive financial association experience, after a seven-month search. Kevin R. Keller, currently a corporate finance association executive in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, will take over the reigns of the CFP Board, the group charged with regulating 55,000 certified planning professionals in the U.S., starting May 1. He is the third CEO the CFP Board has hired in six years.

   Keller is currently a senior vice president and COO of the Washington, DC-based Association for Financial Professionals, a membership association for corporate treasury and finance professionals. Karen Schaeffer, chairman of the board of the CFP Board, told FA News from Paris, that while the board had considered more than a dozen candidates for the job, "Kevin stood head and shoulders above the folks who made it on to the short list."

   Much of Keller's 20-year background at the AFP appears to parallel the CFP Board's own identity and goals. At the AFP, Keller was used to answering to a membership organization with thousands of members, as well as one charged with "raising the stature and visibility of the finance profession," a motto that appears to mirror what CFP executives are espousing these days.

   The AFP also sponsors the prestigious CTP (certified treasury professional) designation and is the creator of that profession's standards for treasury and corporate finance account analysis.

   As for the dangers Keller may face getting bogged down in "group think" or frustrated by the committee-driven nature of an organization such as the CFP Board, Schaeffer said that "one of Kevin's appeals is that he repeatedly expressed a real understanding of the differences between the board role here and the CEO's role. The board is charged with creating the vision and the CEO is charged with making it so. Kevin's been in a job where great collaboration with his board was a necessity," Schaeffer says.

   Keller, who currently works in a Washington, DC suburb, is also geographically desirable to the CFP Board, which announced late last week it was relocating to Washington, DC by the end of the year.

   Still he will be taking on a big job that has swallowed and spit out a number of professionals in the past decade. The last CEO, Sarah Teslik, departed in November after serving two years. During her time in office, she created a firestorm among CFPs with some of her remarks criticized as undermining the value of planning. Critics also complained of her "closed" approach to disseminating information pertinent to CFPs, the media and the public and her speedy termination of more than 80% of the Denver-based organization's 40 or so staffers.

   "Not everything has been negative. We've accomplished many things and have the benefit of all of this experience," says Schaeffer. Still, she maintains, under Keller's direction, the days "when board members step in and try to run the place or CFPs are afraid to loose their jobs are over."

   Schaeffer declined to specify Keller's salary, although it was disclosed late last year that Teslik had earned more than $400,000.

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