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David Tittsworth Remembered for ‘Wit, Warmth and Wisdom’

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Attending a conference that had David Tittsworth as a speaker meant you were in for a pleasant one-two punch: You were going to be informed and entertained. Tittsworth combined Capitol Hill, industry and legal smarts with a charismatic and theatrical presence, making the often mundane financial services compliance and regulatory world lively.

The former longtime president and CEO of the Investment Adviser Association in Washington died Wednesday at age 66 after a long battle with multiple myeloma.

Industry officials and members of the advisory community were quick to weigh in with their condolences and fond memories of Tittsworth, who was also an accomplished pianist and vocalist and an avid cyclist.

“David will be remembered as a passionate, dedicated, articulate, and effective advocate for the investment advisory community and for the importance of fiduciary advice,” said Karen Barr, IAA’s president and CEO, in a note to IAA members. “Over the nearly two decades I worked with him, David became not just my colleague and mentor, but a valued and cherished friend.”

Neil Simon, IAA’s vice president of government relations, recalls Tittsworth’s “remarkable combination of wit, warmth and wisdom. He was also a wonderful leader, building a terrific team at IAA. David was a close friend and I miss him dearly.”

Tittsworth speaking at an IAA Annual Leadership Conference (Photo: IAA)

A native of Kansas, Tittsworth graduated from the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas School of Law. Prior to joining the IAA, he served a significant portion of his professional career in the public sector, where he held positions in all three branches of government.

He began his legal career as a research attorney for the Kansas Court of Appeals in 1978. Thereafter, he held various positions in Kansas state government, including chief counsel of the Department of Transportation.

Upon moving to Washington in 1987, Tittsworth first was an associate House Budget Committee staffer. He accepted a position as senior counsel to the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Trade and Hazardous Materials in 1989. In 1991, he left Capitol Hill to become general counsel and a partner with a government relations firm (now Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell), where he represented the IAA and other clients.

In 1992, he returned to Capitol Hill to serve as counsel and minority counsel of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce until joining the IAA as executive director and executive vice president on Oct. 16, 1996.

After leaving IAA’s helm after 18 years, Tittsworth joined Ropes & Gray’s investment management practice in Washington in 2015.

Bryan Chegwidden, Ropes & Gray partner and global asset management group head, said that “David had a truly impressive career, and was known as one of the foremost experts on securities law and policy issues relating to the investment management industry.” Ropes & Gray and its clients “truly valued his wise counsel and deep understanding of the asset management landscape, enriched by his quick wit and warm demeanor. His family and friends are in our thoughts.”

Paul Schott Stevens, president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute, had this to say in a LinkedIn post: “Sad to mark the passing too soon of such a highly respected and valued colleague. Be at peace, David, you ran a good race. And you will be missed.”

Tittsworth joined IAA when it was known as the Investment Counsel Association of America; at the time the organization had two employees, was headquartered in New York, and served 200 member firms that collectively managed $1 trillion in assets.

Tittsworth moved the operation to Washington and, over the next 18 years, “developed it into a trade association widely respected among regulators, legislators and its organizational peers,” Barr said.

When Tittsworth retired from IAA in March 2014, IAA had more than 500 member firms managing more than $12 trillion. “Building on his foundation, the IAA now serves over 650 member firms managing more than $25 trillion,” Barr said.

An accomplished pianist, Tittsworth performed at many IAA yearly events (Credit: IAA).

A staunch fiduciary advocate, Tittsworth was honored in 2014 with The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard’s Fiduciary of the Year Award.

Tittsworth was honored as “one of the most articulate and instrumental voices in favor of the fiduciary standard of care for investment advisors,” including the importance of ensuring that the Securities and Exchange Commission remains advisors’ primary regulator.

“We are fortunate to have David on our side in the debate over the fiduciary standard of care,” said Ron Rhoades, chairman of The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard, in a statement at the time. “He is the ideal spokesperson on behalf of investment advisors who are serving the best interests of their clients.”

Rhodes said Wednesday in a LinkedIn post: “One of the most knowledgeable, thoughtful and congenial members of the profession I have ever worked with. He will be missed.”

On June 4, 2019, Tittsworth predicted in comments to ThinkAdvisor that the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest — which the agency adopted the next day — would face legal challenges.

Jamie Green, former editor of Investment Advisor, aptly characterized Tittsworth’s mission in 2011 when he was honored as part of the annual IA25 list of the most influential people in the industry:

“Trying to increase the chances that the ‘government’ is an informed and helpful partner to advisors is David Tittsworth’s stock in trade,” he wrote. “The executive director of the Investment Adviser Association has raised significantly his profile, and that of the RIAs he represents and of the IAA itself over the past few years through his testimony on Capitol Hill, through partnering with other advisor advocacy groups, and through his quiet and effective advocacy inside the Beltway, all informed by his insider’s knowledge of how government works, or doesn’t.”

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