Five of the nine board members on the CFP Board's Discipline and Ethics Commission (DEC) resigned in protest early Saturday evening after they were informed of changes to longstanding DEC procedures that were undertaken without their prior knowledge or consent. Those resigning were Co-Chairs Harv Ames and Diana Simpson, Chair-Elect Barry Kohler, and James Williams and Grace Worley.

Some of the former members say that the CFP Board's decision to give CEO Kevin Keller oversight of the DEC could impact its mission to discipline CFP licensees.

In the past, cases brought before the DEC have been open hearings with a CFP Board staff member presenting the case against the respondent (a CFP licensee or a CFP applicant). The DEC panel-traditionally comprised of CFP licensees-deliberated the case in private before it rendered a verdict. DEC board hearings involve the nine board members and four other volunteers.

"The changes made by the CFP Board fundamentally compromise the peer review process," says Worley, who claims that Keller now has full control of the DEC. "The CEO can now select the members of the DEC and select the volunteers and select the Chair. His representative can now participate in the formerly-closed ratification process-the sessions that decide what, if any action should be taken against respondents".

Ames put it more dramatically. "The CEO of the CFP Board has given staff unfettered control of the DEC process," he says. "In doing so, he has done profound violence to the integrity of the whole disciplinary and ethics review process."

Disgruntled former DEC members voiced two main concerns about the changes. First, that non-CFP licensees might now serve on the DEC, and they might not be versed enough in the issues surrounding a case to make a sound judgment. Second, and perhaps more important, that allowing a CFP board staff person to participate in the deliberation process would be analogous to letting a prosecuting attorney sit in on jury deliberations. In short, they fear that the CFP staff person could overturn DEC decisions.

The DEC, like most positions at the CFP Board, are voluntary. Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, the CFP Board's chair-elect, says the organization gave Keller oversight of the DEC because being CEO is his full-time job. She doesn't expect that decision to disrupt the disciplinary process.

"The process will be fair, and the public will be well-served," she says.

-Joel Bruckentein