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High-flying Army vet becomes CFP Board chairman

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An Army veteran and former air traffic controller who recently was still piloting his own plane to work, Richard Salmen has become the CFP Board's new chairman.

With his choice, the board has returned a working financial planner to lead the nation's largest and most powerful planning nonprofit.

The board recently surpassed 80,000 licensed CFPs for the first time. It plays an increasingly significant role in Washington in advocating for planners by, for example, working with the Department of Labor on its influential fiduciary rule.

"We are in a period of a rapid change," Salmen said of the planning industry in 2016, when his choice as 2018 chair-elect was announced. "Literally the entire world we live in is evolving at a more rapid pace than it has in the past. It is important that the CFP Board be looking where the puck is going."

Salmen, who has 25 years of planning experience, brings a unique set of skills to that task.

He became president of the FPA shortly before the subprime lending meltdown. Years earlier while on active duty in the U.S. Army and serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, he helped build a new type of brigade focused on helping soldiers become more tactically trained for battle, according to a release.

Salmen has served as a CFP Board director since 2015. During his time at the FPA, he worked with leaders of the CFP Board and NAPFA to form the Financial Planning Coalition, which lobbies in Washington on behalf of the planning field.

On Jan. 1, Salmen joined Family Investment Center as president to expand financial planning services at the firm’s suburban office located outside of Kansas City, Missouri.

The year after Salmen retired from his position as an air traffic controller in 2013, BOK Financial bought an independent trust company he co-owned, Gtrust Financial Partners. Gtrust operated multiple offices in Kansas, including the one Salmen ran in Overland Park.

Deciding he didn't want to work for a large firm like BOK, which had 4,500 employees, Salmen chose instead to become interim CEO of Northern Financial Advisors in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he oversaw the firm's financial planning practice.

When it comes to the controversial subject of how to ensure that more clients are getting fiduciary advice, as opposed to being sold strategies motivated by commission sales for advisors, Salmen says the board is the forefront of advocating for a meaningful standard of client care.

He cited the board's ongoing work on code of ethics and standards of professional conduct, which expands fiduciary requirements for CFPs and is expected to be adopted in coming months.

"We will continue to look at methods of compensation that are better for the consumer than they were 20 to 30 years ago," he said in the 2016 interview.

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