Nick Nicolette is a principal with Sterling Financial Planning, Inc., which manages $275 million for roughly 300 clients. He’s also the new president of the Financial Planning Association. Registered Rep. chatted with Nicolette.

Registered Rep.: What will be your role as the president of the FPA? And do you have an agenda?
Nick Nicolette: The FPA is an interactive board, so the president does not set a sole agenda. My biggest role will be to make sure that we stay involved in important national dialogs on subjects such as the fiduciary responsibility of planners and how the financial-planning profession fits into the larger financial-services industry. Obviously, the potential resolution of the FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC and its implications will be a big issue in my term.

RR: Establishing financial planning as a profession, and making sure it is a constant subject of debate: What is this going to take?
NN: I think most people intend to act like professionals and in a professional manner. But in terms of making financial planning a profession, building a focused body of knowledge is a priority. We also must have clear and uniform professional and ethical standards. And we’ll need to be able to enforce all that.

RR: Is the growing popularity of the CFP designation with brokerage firms a worrisome or a positive sign?
NN: The FPA welcomes anyone who has the passion to serve the public and build the financial planning profession. Whether you’re a CFP holder working in a brokerage environment or somewhere else, our only concern is that the designation never be viewed by the public or used by a practitioner simply as a marketing tool. As for its popularity, the large firms have tremendous resources to educate, train and employ qualified financial planners, but also to educate and to get the message out to the public. With over 75 million baby boomers coming in to retirement, the need for firms committed to the financial planning process is huge.