Elms, to step down on October 10, will be replaced by IFAP marketing director Karen Barrett.
IFAP non-executive chairman David Graham says: “We are very sad to see David leave and it is with even greater sadness that he leaves due to serious health issues.
“Our thoughts and support are with him at this time.”
Graham described Elms as “a tower of strength in the industry”.
He adds: “He has worked tirelessly to promote the benefits and accessibility of independent financial advice to consumers, businesses and the media.
“Personally I will miss David’s boundless drive and determination to see through his aim of promoting true, independent financial advice to the public.
“Since I became chairman in 2003, he has involved me very closely in the business, which I have found challenging, interesting and very enjoyable but never boring. His commitment to and enthusiasm for the best interests of the whole personal finance industry will be greatly missed.”