Pressed to fill its CEO position more quickly than it expected, the Financial Planning Association looked internally and went with Chief Operating Officer Lauren M. Schadle, a move that the board president says will allow the group to continue with its current strategic plan.

Schadle will succeed Chief Executive Marvin Tuttle Jr. on Oct. 3. Tuttle had planned to retire in 2014, but health problems with a family member pushed the move up, board President Paul Auslander said.

The board had formed a search committee earlier this year but the consultant it hired for the undertaking, Spencer Stuart, said it would take four to six months to find the right candidate, Auslander said. The board was prepared to look outside the financial advisory industry to do so, he had told Rep. two months ago, but things changed.

“Always in the back of my mind was the possibility that we might have to move quickly,” Auslander says. “Lauren would have been in that search and Lauren would have been a finalist, frankly. Whether she would have gotten it, I don’t know.”

Schadle, 45, has been COO for six years, reporting to Tuttle. She joined its predecessor organization, the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, in 1996. She has been active in the member-facing portions of the organization, including relations with its 94 chapters, its educational programs, and its outreach to corporate membership.

The Denver-based organization has more than 23,000 members and a staff of about 60. Auslander said Schadle’s appointment is not an interim one.

“I think that sends the wrong message to the staff,” he said. “I think she’s very capable and very confident. I just thought the best thing we could do, and the board happened to agree with me unanimously, is that Lauren is ready for this job. And we’ll review it in a year and if she isn’t, we’ll make our changes.”

In addition to providing management continuity, Schadle has strong support with the FPA’s staff, Auslander added. An “operational wizard,” Schadle will be working on streamlining the organization in the months to come, and doing “more of what we have been doing for the past six months, not to be cryptic about that,” he said.

Schadle said one of the tasks she will be overseeing is the recruiting for a new position, a managing director of practitioner services, who will oversee FPA programming and report to Schadle. In the midst of a membership decline--current membership is down 13.5 percent from 2004--the organization is trying to focus on the programming it offers its members, particularly the 16,000 who hold certified financial planner designations.

“We know we’re going to have to ask ourselves some tough questions in terms of staying focused on the things we need to accomplish. I believe the board and I are in alignment on those elements,” Schadle said. “The first question should always be, is everything bringing value to members, especially CFP members.”

A native of Madison, N.J., Schadle earned a B.S. degree in communications from Rutgers in 1989, and a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Colorado--Denver. She holds a certified association executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives.