Lay Leaders Applaud Marv Tuttle Long-time Director of FPA; Reflect On His Career As A Great Leader, Advocate for Standard of Care, and Thought Leader Hot

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Past lay leaders of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) are praising Marv Tuttle who this week announced that he will retire in October as head of one the nation’s largest professional associations for those who hold themselves out to be financial planners.

Tuttle, who has been the executive director of the FPA since its founding in 2000, announced earlier this year his plan to retire in 2014, but this week he unexpectedly moved up his retirement date by two years. (He will step down officially during the FPA’s annual general membership meeting in October.)

To be sure, there will be in the coming weeks and months plenty of advisors and association professionals who will praise Tuttle’s work as executive director and CEO of the FPA over the past 12 years. But we wanted to be among the first to capture their thoughts for – if nothing else – posterity.

Dan Moisand, CFP, the 2006 president of the FPA

Marv Tuttle is an excellent association executive and leader but he is an even better person. I was on the board when he took over for Janet McCallen (the former executive director of the IAFP). The post 9-11 economy was still affecting FPA’s finances, chapters had varying levels of autonomy and some were fighting among themselves and/or with national, some people wanted to unwind the merger between ICFP and IAFP, the staff was figuring out if it wanted to move to Denver, the CFP Board was on that run of awful CEOs and many wondered if FPA would, could, and should continue to support the marks.  To say there were challenges would be an understatement.  Today, FPA has gotten past those things, successfully protected the ’40 Act from being weakened through its suit over the broker dealer exemption, has a voice in Washington, is better able to tackle the challenges facing the planning profession, and is in such good shape that the board has, with great confidence, already tapped his replacement from within.  Overcoming adversity and challenges, making significant progress toward important goals, and assuring the organization can survive one’s departure are the marks of a great leader.

 Tom Potts, Ph.D., CFP, the 2010 president of the FPA

Marv has obviously had a long and successful career at FPA and ICFP. Several things stand out about his service and accomplishments.  One of Marv’s greatest attributes is his openness.  By this I mean he is open to new ideas, inquisitive and a great listener.  He is also very loyal to his staff, the board, FPA members and to the profession. The high points that I remember include the development of the FPA Standard of Care, the creation of Financial Planning Days and the reaffirmation of FPA’s support for the CFP.

Dave Yeske, Ph.D., CFP, the 2003 president of the FPA

Marv straddled so many important threads in this profession that it's hard to know where to begin. I look forward to many appreciations in the coming weeks and months, because so much of what Marv did was carried out quietly in the background.

For the moment, I'll focus on my personal experience of Marv and his role in the profession. To begin with, at some point 22 years ago, Marv was my first memorable experience of the ICFP, the human face of the organization, if you will.  I was just starting my practice and called the Institute with questions about what I should be doing with my marketing and client materials.  I'm not sure what Marv's official title was back then… but Marv was the one who called me back, spent time talking to me, and suggested I send him all my materials.  We later had a follow-up conversation in which he made a number of great suggestions that guided me for years to come. 

As I think you know, Marv spent time as editor then publisher of the Journal of Financial Planning and did much to expand its focus and audience. 

Although Marv has spent so much of his time operating quietly, out of the spotlight, his passion for the financial planning profession and the community of financial planning practitioners was boundless. He understood the importance of standards if we were to build a true profession and always brought the conversation back to that.  Marv was also an incredible advocate for FPA's staff. He understood how important an empowered and creative staff was to the success of the organization and the profession. When Janet McCallen departed FPA in January of 2004, we were in the middle of a board meeting (I was chair that year) and I remember reporting to the board that the executive committee was recommending that Marv be made acting executive director. The board's response was unanimous: Let's just give him the job (one board member said, "as far as I can see, he's running the organization already").  Marv's personal and professional connection to staff, whether they had started with the IAFP or ICFP, was so deep that it allowed us to make the leadership transition smoothly and with little staff disruption. In fact, we had previously decided to centralize the organization in Denver and most of the Atlanta staffers made the decision to relocate to the new headquarters.  I credit Marv for most of that.

Marv was an amazing connector.  He sustained and promoted connections between the ICFP/FPA and the academic community.  People like Tom Warschauer of San Diego State is not well known among practitioners, but has made great contributions to the profession, its academic underpinnings, and to FPA and I think Marv was no small part of maintaining that connection. Marv was first among FPA staff who understood the importance of the academic community and quietly established and maintained connections.

I'd summarize by pointing to Marv's long history as a servant-leader of the profession, during which he quietly influenced the thinking and direction of the profession in areas ranging from government relations and regulation, to building academic foundations under the profession through his support of research and publishing, to his tireless bridge-building to the academic community, to his commitment to a standards-based profession. Marv's skill at keeping veteran leaders and thinkers connected, of being, to a very significant degree, the institutional memory of FPA and the profession as a whole is unmatched by anyone I know of. It will be a terrible waste if we don't find ways to keep Marv deeply connected.

Share your recollections of Marv’s career with the ICFP and FPA below.

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