CFP Board taps high-flying planner as chair-elect

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Richard Salmen, the CFP Board's newly announced chairman for 2018, is an Army veteran, a pilot, a past FPA president and no stranger to multitasking.

After leaving the military with the rank of captain, Salmen juggled two full-time jobs for 20 years: During the week he was a financial planner; on long weekends he was an air traffic controller.

"Neither one of those was like working. Both of them I was passionate about," Salmen said. He attributes much of his success as a juggler to learning how to sleep at any time during his military service. "I never had any trouble sleeping.”


The board's choice of Salmen will return a working CFP to one of the board's top spots. The nonprofit's incoming chairman Blaine Aiken, slated to serve in 2017, has not worked as a planner for years. Current chairman, Mike Greene, is a senior vice president of financial planning at Ameriprise.

"We are very fortunate to have Richard" on tap for 2018, Greene said in a statement. "He brings to the position a great amount of knowledge, wisdom, and passion for the financial planning profession.”

Salmen also served a term as president of the FPA, beginning in 2007. He joined the CFP Board in January 2015 as a director.

In 2013, Salmen retired from his position as an air traffic controller. The following year, BOK Financial bought the independent trust company, Gtrust Financial Partners, which Salmen co-owned. 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 has 4,500 employees, Salmen chose instead to take the top spot at Northern Financial Advisors in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which has eight employees. "They needed leadership. They wanted somebody like me," he says.

He intends to continue to live in Kansas City and commute to Northern Financial's Michigan headquarters in the pressurized twin Cessna he pilots.

Salmen says the average net worth of his clients has ranged from about $500,000 to $1 million, with his top tier clients at the $5 million to $7 million level. All regard themselves as middle class.

"It's the classic millionaire next door," Salmen says. "It's just not visible.”

In keeping with his multitasking history, Salmen officially joined Northern Financial the day before the board announced he would become chairman. He wants to see the organization keep "skating to where the puck will go," to borrow a line from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.


"At the board, we have a lot of conversations about where that puck is headed," he said. "That, to me, is what we really need to be thinking about."

Although controversy persists among some CFPs and board critics over the board's claim that its CFPs act as fiduciaries, and about what constitutes the right disclosure practices for advisers, Salmen says he sees these controversies as a necessary part of the profession's ongoing transformation.

The organization's goal is to see financial planning evolve into a profession where standards are nationalized.

"Are we exactly where we would like to be?" Salmen said. "Probably not, but I believe those standards are evolving."

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