The CFP Board's former disciplinary chief Michael Shaw is switching sides.

Shaw could end up working for the kinds of advisors he once targeted for investigations at his new job with Oyster Consulting.

After nearly eight years as second-in-command to the board's CEO Kevin Keller, Shaw left the board in December amid turmoil over its fee only disciplinary process. He joined Oyster in the Washington D.C. area in late June.


"The focus" at the new job, Shaw says, "will be helping advisors stay out of trouble with regulators and standards setting organizations."

"I might hire a Michael Shaw," says Rick Kahler, a well-known planner in Rapid City, S.D., who Shaw investigated in a fee only case last year. Kahler, who threatened to sue the board over the case, is one of numerous prominent CFPs who were highly critical of Shaw's tenure. The board did not end up disciplining Kahler in that case.

Oyster Consulting, based in Glen Allen, Va., hopes others in the financial services world will share Kahler's potential interest in hiring Shaw, a former FINRA lawyer. In June when it hired Shaw, it also hired a former regulatory official with the New York Stock Exchange.

In potentially working with any former investigatory targets, Shaw says he would have to be careful to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.


Keller and Shaw oversaw the board's much-criticized handling of fee only cases including a costly lawsuit brought by married financial planners Jeffrey and Kimberly Camarda. After two years of pre-trial motions, the couples' lawsuit was thrown out by a federal judge last month. 

Though the board targeted the Camardas for calling their practice fee only despite having links to a commission insurance company, fee-only offenses by other advisors went unpunished.

At the time of Shaw's departure, some in the industry said the board had an opportunity to put its recent troubles behind it.

"Regardless of the reasons, Michael Shaw's departure provides the CFP Board with the opportunity to restore confidence in the CFP Board," Ron Rhoades, an assistant professor in Alfred State University's planning program, said in December.

"All the events of the last couple of years revolving around the [board's] enforcement of the disciplinary and ethics standards are disturbing," Dan Moisand, a former chairman of the board's volunteer disciplinary and ethics commission, also said that month.


But Shaw explains the timing of his departure as a personal decision. "It just felt like it was the right time. I'd been there for nearly eight years. I was ready to explore other opportunities. I was with them up to the point when I decided it's time to get a fresh perspective," he says.

"To use a baseball analogy," Shaw says, "joining a new team offers new perspectives, an ability to learn from new teammates and coaches and often results in reinvigorated performance. You see that in baseball all the time.

"At Oyster," he adds, "I can help advisors comply with regulations on a much larger scale."

His clients will include banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, brokers and investment advisors, he says.

"I consider it to be a continuation of the work I've been doing for the past 15 years for CFP Board and for FINRA," Shaw says.

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