Investment Adviser Association names new head

Karen Barr, the group's general counsel, will take over for retiring David Tittsworth

Sep 24, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Karen Barr should be able to hit the ground running when she takes over as president and chief executive of the Investment Adviser Association on Nov. 3.

That's because for the past 17 years, she has served as IAA general counsel. The IAA board of directors announced her promotion Wednesday.

Ms. Barr will take over the group, which represents registered investment advisers, from David Tittsworth, who has been IAA executive director since 1996. The IAA board recently changed the title of the organization's head to president and CEO. Mr. Tittsworth, who announced his resignation for health reasons earlier this year, will stay on board as an adviser to Ms. Barr until February.

Under Mr. Tittsworth, the IAA membership has increased from 200 firms managing $1 trillion in assets to 550 firms managing $14 trillion in assets.

“What we are looking at here is evolution rather than revolution,” Ms. Barr, 55, said in an interview. “David has built a really strong organization. I hope to build on that foundation to further grow our membership and expand our reach.”

IAA members are investment advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a group that numbers about 11,400.

“Our growth potential is enormous,” Ms. Barr said.

In addition to expanding the organization, Ms. Barr wants to enhance opportunities for IAA members to network and share best practices.

Advocacy will remain a top issue for Ms. Barr. The IAA is currently promoting legislation that would allow the SEC to charge advisers a user fee to fund an expanded examination program.

“We remain optimistic that it is gaining bipartisan traction and will continue to do so in the next Congress,” Ms. Barr said.

She's not as hopeful there will be a breakthrough at the SEC anytime soon on the agency's consideration of a rule that would raise standards for brokers by establishing a uniform fiduciary duty for retail investment advice.

“I don't think it's likely the SEC will make significant progress on this issue by the end of the year,” Ms. Barr said. “It's complicated and controversial.”

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