Karen Barr will build on David Tittsworth's legacy at the Investment Adviser Association

Former general counsel sees room for organization to grow more

Jan 29, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

With David Tittsworth departing the Investment Adviser Association, its new leader, Karen Barr, will have to turn elsewhere for entertainment for the organization's annual meeting.

Over his 18 years as head of the IAA, Mr. Tittsworth, a pianist and singer, would give an after-dinner performance at the event. He would change the lyrics to popular songs to honor outgoing IAA board members.

“Regrettably for many, I can't sing,” Ms. Barr laughed. “I will be outsourcing our entertainment.”

(Related read: More on Karen Barr's appointment as new head of the IAA)

Ms. Barr assumed the IAA reins in November, when she took over from Mr. Tittsworth as president and chief executive. He has stayed on since then as a consultant to assist in the transition and will leave the organization on Feb. 6.

Ms. Barr takes over an organization with which she is intimately familiar, having served for 17 years as its general counsel. IAA has grown from 200 members with $1 trillion in assets under management to 580 members with $16 trillion in AUM.

“I was [Mr. Tittsworth's] third hire,” said Ms. Barr, 51. “I've had the opportunity to build this organization from the ground up with him, which has been tremendously exciting.”

She's not going to rest on prior accomplishments.

“We still have much more room for growth,” Ms. Barr said. “There are many SEC-registered advisers that should be members of the Investment Adviser Association. One of my jobs going forward is to continue to spread the word.”

(More: David Tittsworth's legacy of battling on behalf of advisers)

The IAA is going to try to reach the approximately 11,500 SEC-registered advisers by strengthening its communications efforts through traditional and social media. It also will sponsor more educational and peer-to-peer networking programs that focus on timely business topics.

“I think we have a lot of opportunities to partner with a lot of organizations,” Ms. Barr said. “I hadn't anticipated all the ideas. We have a lot to work with.”

Ms. Barr also will continue to put IAA at the forefront of the fight to keep investment-adviser regulation under the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC's position may be threatened by the Financial Stability Oversight Council's exploration of systemic risk among asset managers.

“The focus on the asset management industry will have a trickle-down effect on all investment advisers,” Ms. Barr said. “We're going to be actively engaged in advocacy on the issue to make sure the SEC remains the primary regulator of investment advisers.”

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