I don’t know Ron Rhoades but my heart goes out to him. He was forced to resign as NAPFA’s chairman-elect earlier this week because of a careless compliance mistake. He’s been publicly embarrassed and hurt financially because of a minor infraction, and Rhoades put himself through all this to spare NAPFA embarrassment.
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In a cruel twist of fate, Rhoades is paying for the sins of his predecessors, former NAPFA chairmen Mark Spangler and James Putman, who lost their moral compass are alleged by regulators to have defrauded clients. They are accused of serious crimes against clients.
Rhoades’ mistake — failing to file papers on a timely basis — is no crime. It’s a minor infraction. But the embarrassment that Spangler and Putman brought to NAPFA, which historically has been a beacon of light in the sometimes shadowy world of financial services, left Rhoades with little choice but to step down.
Rhoades could have refused to resign. But NAPFA’s effort to be above reproach would only have been further tarnished if another of its leaders were subject to regulatory scrutiny, no matter how minor the infraction. So Rhoades issued a statement taking full responsibility for his mistake and he stepped down.
Rhoades has spent his career building professional credentials. He has a law degree, a CFP designation, and he teaches financial planning at Alfred State College, serving as the curriculum coordinator for the program.
The sad irony is that If Rhoades had not been so active in the profession, he would have quietly addressed the issue. But because he’s stepped up and played a leadership role, he’s a magnet for criticism and bad publicity.
It’s a shame.