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Ex-CFP Board Chief Goldfarb: ‘I’ll Be Cleared of Any Wrongdoing’

The newly resigned chairman of the CFP Board insists he “did not commit any violation” but says he stepped aside because it is his “responsibility to put the interests of the organization ahead of my own.”

Alan Goldfarb, whose resignation was announced Friday by the board, told Financial Planning in an exclusive interview that “I did not commit any violation and I expect I will be cleared of any wrongdoing after I go through the appropriate disciplinary process that, ironically, I helped develop.

“I can’t discuss much since the process is confidential,” he added in an email, “but I can say that the alleged violation concerns representing my compensation as ‘salary,’ which it is,” he wrote, “as opposed to ‘fee and commission,’ since I am also the principal of an M&A-based broker-dealer."

The CEO of the CFP Board, Kevin Keller, said Goldfarb had mischaracterized the allegation. “Alan Goldfarb’s description of the alleged violation that is being referred for further proceedings under our disciplinary rules and procedures is not correct,” Keller said. He would not elaborate.

Goldfarb and two unnamed members of the board’s disciplinary and ethics commission resigned amid allegations that they may have violated provisions of the board’s standards of professional conduct, the organization announced Friday.

“Even though the allegations are unfounded,” Goldfarb said in his email, “I believed it best for the organization if I step down during the investigation.”

In his resignation letter to Keller, Goldfarb underscored his knowledge of compliance and ethics rules: “As a co-author of the standards and disciplinary rules, as a five-year member and chair of the board of professional review, as a four-year member and chair of the appeals committee, and as a CFP practitioner with almost 35 years without any disciplinary history, I am well aware of my duties and responsibilities, and believe that I am in full compliance with those standards. I am certain that this was a misunderstanding, and I welcome the opportunity to engage in good faith the CFP Board’s enforcement process consistent with its disciplinary rules and procedures.”

Goldfarb, who is director of wealth management at Weaver Wealth Management in Dallas, concluded his letter to Keller saying, “For many years, I have dedicated my life to ensuring the public has access to ethical and competent financial planning services offered by CFP professionals. I will continue to work toward those goals and support [the] CFP Board, the CFP designation, and the financial planning profession.”

Goldfarb has been a leading voice in the industry on the importance of mentoring young planners, and was chosen as an Influencer Award winner last year by Financial Planning for that work.

The stunning developments come just weeks after Goldfarb and Keller made joint presentations at the annual FPA national conference in San Antonio and talked about the organization’s future plans, and two months after Ron Rhoades, the chairman-elect of NAPFA, stepped aside following a compliance violation at this firm. (Rhoades, who received a letter of noncompliance from Florida regulators, was not fined and won approval to continue working as an investment advisor.)

The CFP Board said chairwoman-elect Nancy Kistner, a CFP who is a wealth planning director at US Trust, was elected by the board to fill the remainder of Goldfarb’s term and will continue to chair the board through Dec. 31, 2013.

Kistner, who is a managing director in the Wealth Planning Solutions department at U.S. Trust, which is part of the Bank of America Private Wealth Management in New York, previously served as director and head of financial planning at Citi Private Bank, and as head of financial planning training at MetLife Financial Services.

Without disclosing the circumstances, the CFP Board said it “became aware of broad allegations” involving Goldfarb and the two others and created a special committee made up of public board members who have no ties to the financial services industry.” It added that the special committee retained outside counsel to investigate and reported its findings directly to the committee.

In an email earlier Friday, Keller told Financial Planning: “To be sure, no final determination has been made; if a public sanction is warranted, it will be made public once the process is complete.”

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