Susan M. John, the president of Financial Focus, a fee-only personal financial planning firm in Wolfeboro, N.H., was elected chair of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

John, who runs a $130 million practice, said small firms cover the landscape of the financial planning profession and deserve a seat at the table of all discussions concerning client relations, practice management, and investment management, often because they have to take the brunt of legislation or any other decision that affects the industry.

Larger firms “make the rules for the too big to fail, but it affects the ‘too small to matter,’” she said in a telephone interview.

John cannot be ignored. Her energy, confidence and dedication are palpable.

If you wonder what it’s like to be in the same room with her, ask Warren Mackensen, president of Mackensen & Co., a fee-only planning firm in Hampton, N.H., who has known John for 20 years, beginning at Ballentine, Finn and Co.

It was there that Mackensen reported to John as a junior planner. She would review the plans he created for clients, offering feedback and insight. John encouraged Mackensen to run for a spot on the NAPFA national board, which he did successfully, and they both serve on New Hampshire’s NAPFA study group.

He said John has clear resolve and passion that will benefit the NAPFA membership. “I know her practice,” he said. “It is a collegial, cohesive practice where everyone works together as a team and that means she is a very good leader.”

John has also been a fixture as an industry volunteer since 1990, when she first joined NAPFA. She is chair of the industry issues committee on the national board.

John said she is excited about her new role with NAPFA, especially because of the rigorous preparation it gives planners in working with their clients. Among her top priorities for her term are to keep advocating for the fiduciary standard for all advisors, and collaborating more with organizations outside the profession, like the AARP, and the Consumer Federation of America.

And in the interest of keeping the smaller firms in the loop, John wants to encourage greater participation from the membership in the organization’s programming.

* * *

Also on the move this week:

Bessemer Trust, based in New York City, named David Rossmiller head of fixed income. He will also be a member of its investment policy and strategy committee. Rossmiller was global head of fixed income for Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.

BNY Wealth Management [BK] hired Peter Moertl as head of its international wealth management group, dividing his time between the United States and Europe. He was chief executive of Zurich Wealth Management Group, an acquisition and consolidation platform for European independent asset managers.

Great-West Retirement Services, based in Greenwood Village, Col., named Gary Plourde regional director of national accounts for its southeast market. He will be based near Orlando. Plourde was a senior vice president of sales and distribution for Daily Access Corp., a retirement and employee benefits service provider based in Mobile, Ala.

Laird Norton Tyee, based in Seattle, hired Wendy Phillips as a business development officer. She was a vice president and business development officer at Wells Fargo [WFC], based in San Francisco.

Raymond James Financial [RJF] promoted Nicole Spinelli to director of it Raymond James Network for Women Advisors. Spinelli, who joined Raymond James in 2001 as a recruiting liaison for the private client group, oversees the company’s  Women’s Resource Center, an intranet site with business-building tools.


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