David Tittsworth, longtime leader of Investment Adviser Association, dies

At 2012 congressional hearing, he helped derail bill on Finra oversight of advisers

David Tittsworth, the longtime head of the Investment Adviser Association, died Wednesday.

In a note to its membership, IAA Chief Executive Karen Barr said Mr. Tittsworth, 66, had been in treatment for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.

“David will be remembered as a passionate, dedicated, articulate and effective advocate for the investment advisory community and for the importance of fiduciary advice,” Ms. Barr wrote. “Our organization — indeed, the entire investment advisory community — owes a debt of gratitude to David.”

One of the highlights of Mr. Tittsworth’s 18-year career as IAA chief executive occurred in June 2012, when he was one of the witnesses at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

The subject of the meeting was a bill introduced by the panel’s chairman at the time, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., that would have shifted regulation of investment advisers from the Securities and Exchange Commission to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., the broker-dealer self-regulator.

Investment advisers were adamantly opposed to Finra oversight, and Mr. Tittsworth became the central figure at the hearing, which lasted more  than two hours. He took the vast majority of the questions from lawmakers, consistently asserting that most advisory firms were small businesses that would be hurt by Mr. Bachus’ bill.

Mr. Tittsworth’s testimony seemed to raise concerns about the legislation among Republicans. The Republican-majority committee never voted on the bill introduced by its chairman, and the measure died.

Under Mr. Tittsworth’s leadership, the IAA moved its headquarters from New York to Washington. He took over in October 1996, when the organization had two employees and 200 member firms that collectively managed $1 trillion in assets. When he left the IAA in March 2014, it had more than 500 member firms with a total of $12 trillion in assets, according to Ms. Barr’s note. The organization now has 650 firms with $25 trillion in assets.

“Over the nearly two decades I worked with him, David became not just my colleague and mentor, but a valued and cherished friend,” Ms. Barr wrote.

For the last five years, Mr. Tittsworth was counsel at the law firm Ropes & Gray, representing asset management firms. Prior to joining the Investment Adviser Association, he was a longtime Capitol Hill aide and served as counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee when it was chaired by the late Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

Outside his professional life, Mr. Tittsworth was a skilled pianist, sometimes playing at IAA conferences. He also was an avid cyclist and a deeply loyal fan of the University of Kansas basketball team. Mr. Tittsworth earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from Kansas.

He is survived by his wife Christine.

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