Tittsworth to step down as Investment Adviser Association head in 2015

Oversaw growth of investment adviser lobby to 550 firms managing $11T, from 200 firms managing $1T

Feb 4, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association for the past 18 years, said Tuesday that he intends to resign next year.

He is resigning for health reasons.

"Beyond that, I want to explore personal goals and interests," Mr. Tittsworth, 60, said.

He said that he decided to announce his resignation so far in advance — he intends to step down on Feb. 6, 2015 — so that the IAA board would have ample time to find a successor.

“You're going to have to deal with me for another year,” he said. “There's a lot of work to do in the next 12 months.”

Mr. Tittsworth has presided over the IAA during a period of growth.

When he took the helm, the group had 200 member firms managing $1 trillion in assets. Today, it has 550 firms managing $11 trillion in assets.

“This has been a terrific position for me,” Mr. Tittsworth said in an interview.

Mr. Tittsworth came to the IAA from Capitol Hill, where he served as counsel to the Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 1992-96. He also was a staffer on the House budget and transportation committees from 1987-91.

In his role as a congressional aide, Mr. Tittsworth would sit behind members of Congress at hearings. When he testified at a 2012 hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, he was at the witness table.

The panel was considering legislation introduced by then-chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., that would establish a self-regulatory organization for investment advisers. Financial advisers adamantly opposed the bill, fearing that it would bring them under the aegis of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., already the regulator for broker-dealers.

Mr. Tittsworth became the star of the nearly three-hour hearing. He fielded about 70% of lawmakers' questions, including many from Mr. Bachus, as he made the case for why advisers should remain under the supervision of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“June 6, 2012, is a date that will be forever etched in my memory,” Mr. Tittsworth said. “It's very different being on that side of the fence.”

The following day, the IAA held a Capitol Hill Day in which 50 of its members lobbied lawmakers to push an alternative bill to Mr. Bachus' legislation. Their proposal would have allowed the SEC to charge user fees to fund adviser examinations.

The group also sent more than 1,000 e-mails to legislators.

Although he was chairman of the committee, Mr. Bachus never brought his bill up for a vote. It died at the end of 2012. The hearing and the IAA's grass-roots effort helped turn the tide.

“Those two factors made a difference in his decision not to move the legislation,” Mr. Tittsworth said.

Adviser oversight continues to be debated this year, as the SEC searches for ways to increase the percentage of the 11,000 advisers that it examines annually — currently 8%. In addition, the SEC is considering a rule that would raise investment advice standards for brokers to the level met by investment advisers, another issue in which the IAA is deeply involved.

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