Celebrating David Tittsworth


Celebrating David Tittsworth

The investment advisory profession lost one of its most influential voices, and the IAA lost a beloved leader, when our former President & CEO David Tittsworth passed away on January 8 after battling multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.  He was 66.

Since his passing, the outpouring of grief – and love – for David has been overwhelming. Clearly, he touched many of us in a profound, positive and lasting way.

When David took the helm of what was then the Investment Counsel Association of America in 1996, he was tasked with taking a two-person operation from New York to Washington, DC and building it into a prominent association that would hold its own with organizations representing brokers, bankers, insurance agents and other players in the financial services ecosystem.

A very tall order. But David Tittsworth was up to the job.

Film makers Michael Herzmark and Melissa Wayne – longtime friends of David’s – produced this video tribute, which was shown at David’s memorial service in Washington, DC on February 13.

He certainly had the legal and industry smarts – a graduate of the University of Kansas Law School, David had been partner and general counsel at what’s now Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell, representing the IAA and other clients. And he had the political savvy, after serving in various positions in the Kansas state government and on Capitol Hill, where he was a staffer for the House Budget Committee, senior counsel to the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Trade and Hazardous Materials, and counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Add to that a healthy dose of Midwestern manners, humility, and charm, a strong sense of humor, a quick wit, a warmth for people and a passion for principle – especially the fiduciary duty. He had the all the right attributes for building a strong professional community based on shared interests.


David (far right) with members of the staff he built at a 2014 conference. Bottom, from left: Lisa Gillette, Alex Ioannidis and Andrea Owens. Top, from left: Ben Coffinberger, Megan Olson, Neil Simon and Linda Mackey. All but Coffinberger and Owens are still with the IAA.

Over the next 18 years, David grew a small shop serving 200 member firms managing $1 trillion in assets into a 16-person staff with more than 500 members managing more than $12 trillion, raising the profile of the profession and its trade association. When he retired from the IAA, David was bullish on the organization’s future, and rightly so. Building on his foundation, the IAA now has more than 650 member firms managing more than $25 trillion. After his retirement, David remained closely involved with us through IAA Associate Member Ropes & Gray, where he represented asset management firms.

Of all of his accomplishments, the one many in the industry point to as pivotal was his leadership in beating back legislation to expand FINRA’s SRO jurisdiction to include investment advisers. In June 2012, David testified against the bill before the House Financial Services Committee. The bill never came to a vote.


David testifying before the House Financial Services Committee in 2012, opposing a proposal to expand FINRA’s jurisdiction to cover investment advisers. The measure never received a vote.

Among longtime IAA members, David will be most affectionately remembered for his virtuosity as a pianist and performer of self-penned lyrics to well-known tunes honoring – and sometimes poking good-natured fun - at IAA Board members when their terms as governors expired. His theatrical flair, creativity, and musicianship not only provided the entertainment for the closing dinner of every IAA Annual Conference but also created a shared experience and bonding for those attending those conferences.

The flood of emails and phone calls the IAA has received since David’s passing is a testament to how much David was loved and respected, and how deeply he touched all of us. Here, we’re sharing some of the many tributes we’ve received.


In what became a cherished annual event, David – an accomplished pianist – entertained IAA Leadership conference attendees with parodies of popular songs honoring – and poking good-natured fun at – outgoing IAA Board members.

The FinReg world—and the world as a whole—lost someone wonderful today. No matter how contentious the issue, David's calm, wise, kind approach made the conversation better.”

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce
in a January 8 tweet

Carsman_Chris_4x5.jpgA gentleman, colleague, friend, entertainer and one of the nicest, kindest men I have ever known. He will long be remembered for his dedication, constant advocacy and stalwart support of our industry. For all of his many professional contributions, we will forever owe him a debt of gratitude. Those of us who have had the honor of working with DT and knowing him as a friend and colleague will always remember his warmth and charm.  We will hear in our heads that soft drawl saying “I’m just a country boy from Kansas” and recall the songs he wrote each year for members of our Board of Governors who were departing after completing their terms, making the leaving oh so bittersweet. I remember the first time I heard him sit at the piano and sing one of those tributes. I marveled at the talent, wit and gift of it all.  That was DT.  It was DT who brought me into the IAA fold nearly 25 years ago, and DT who last spring, always generous with his time, gave me sage advice ahead of my stepping into the role of Chair of our Board. Thank you DT, I will always be grateful for knowing you. You will be missed greatly.

Chris Carsman, Chair, IAA Board of Governors
Senior Policy Advisor, Affiliated Managers Group

Wattenbarger_Joel_4x5.jpgI had the great pleasure of working with David on many matters during his time at Ropes, from client engagements to internal presentations to podcasts and client events. In a business that has been known to attract more than a few big egos, David stood out as almost unbelievably modest and self-effacing – conversations with David invariably featured regular proclamations that he didn’t know all that much about the issue in question, but he’d be happy to help however he could. In truth, David had encyclopedic knowledge of most every issue of significance to investment advisers over the last quarter century, as well as a seemingly unending list of contacts at the SEC, on Capitol Hill and throughout the industry. I learned a great deal from David and had a great deal of fun doing so, and I miss him terribly.

Joel Wattenbarger, Partner, Ropes & Gray


David is embraced by E. Blake Moore Jr. – a former IAA Board Chair and former offensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers – at his farewell dinner in 2015.

I had the great fortune to know and work with David and the IAA for the better part of 20 years, and it is hard for me to put into words the many positive ways he impacted me. Yes, he was a consummate professional, and leader (dare I say savior?) of the ICAA/IAA, and a great person to work with. But David was so much more – a wonderful person – warm, engaging, friendly, humble, loyal, caring, could make you laugh or smile even when you might not want to. These are the real reasons I loved David, and will miss him.  But I will not ever forget him.

E. Blake Moore Jr., former Chair, IAA Board of Governors
President of North American Asset Management at Foresters Financial

Roper_Barbara_4x5.jpgDavid was one of the best, most decent human beings I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with. This is terrible news indeed.

Barbara Roper, Director of Investor Protection
Consumer Federation of America
in a January 8 tweet

David was a steadfast and effective advocate and leader for the investment adviser industry and the IAA for decades. Despite his Kansas cool, David could get worked up about maintaining the integrity of fiduciary standards! More than this, David was a generous and thoughtful friend and mentor … full of joy, wit, encouragement, and music. I hope all the pianos in heaven are in tune. 

One time, I introduced David as a “Great American.” He lowered his head and blushed in his humble way. Seriously, he was: a great, true-blue, one-of-a-kind, determined, heart as big as the Midwestern sky, American. Many of us were drawn to him and miss him dearly. 

Andrew Bowden, SVP & General Counsel, Jackson National Life Insurance
Former Director, SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations
Former IAA Board Member

In my 40-plus years in and around financial services, I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of leaders and luminaries. But few have made the impact on me as did David Tittsworth. He was a kind soul with a firm grasp of what was important.  He was respectful and persistent at the same time. He was not about managing relationships but about building upon them. 

I am grateful for having known David, and truly saddened by his passing. I take comfort in having experienced a man at his best when he was alive, and I take inspiration in knowing the legacy he has left in his wake. God bless your soul, my friend.

Mark Tibergien, CEO of Advisor Solutions, BNY Mellon/Pershing

Keller__Kevin_4x5.jpgPlenty of people in Washington are super smart, politically savvy and seasoned strategists.  But few people combine those traits with unusual warmth, generosity and kindness. David was one of the few who combined exceptional professional skill with innate humanity. I will always remember how David was one of the first people to welcome me to the “club” when I was the newly minted CEO of CFP Board and had just moved the organization to Washington. David extended his support, wise counsel and friendship to the new kid on the block. We maintained that friendship and professional collaboration over the years. I am forever grateful.

Kevin Keller, CEO, CFP Board

Donohue_Buddy_4x5.jpgDavid was the consummate professional. He was very knowledgeable about the investment advisory industry and the regulatory environment in which it operates. He was an able advocate for the industry but always was guided by what the right answer was for the clients of investment advisers. He always was a gentleman and a true friend. He will be missed.  

Andrew “Buddy” Donohue, former SEC Chief of Staff

Skinner_Rob_4x5.jpgWe were thrilled to have David join us at Ropes & Gray, and he proved to be the quintessential colleague.  He brought a wealth of knowledge and great judgment to the firm, which our clients were immediately drawn to. And for those of us lucky enough to work with him closely, he brought a generosity of spirit and charming humor that were just infectious. He honed our message and brightened our days, and it was a gift to have him among us.

Rob Skinner, Partner, Ropes & Gray

I had the honor and privilege to work closely with David from 2009 through 2013 during the post Madoff, Dodd-Frank enacting and implementation period. Needless to say those were not easy times for our industry. Nevertheless, David's ardent advocacy for the IAA community and the investment advisory profession was unparalleled. We are immensely grateful to have had ­David’s outstanding service on our behalf. He was a gifted professional, musician and a genuinely wonderful human being. Among many of David’s gifts was the ability to bring people together, he could make a large group setting feel intimate as he addressed the audience with sincerity and warmth. Another gift is his song writing and tickling the ivories. He brought joy to so many with his songs. I will forever cherish my song written and sung by David to the tune of the Impossible Dream. Thank you, David, for being my mentor, colleague and friend. I will miss you very much.

Vivian Pan, former Chair, IAA Board of Governors
Former Senior Partner, Hamlin Capital Management


David helping outgoing IAA Board Chair Vivian Pan of Hamlin Capital Management pass the gavel to incoming Chair Scott Richter of JP Morgan Asset Management in 2013.

Through his many years as the leader of the Investment Adviser Association, David was a tireless champion and great ambassador of the investment adviser industry. Unfailingly gracious, he was a consummate professional and true gentleman. He was an outstanding recruiter of Association volunteers and had a keen eye for talent in the professional staff that succeeds him. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him.  He was a good friend.  We will all miss him dearly.

Scott Richter, Former Chair, IAA Board of Governors
 Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Asset Management

David was an unfaltering advocate for the investment adviser industry. He was smart, engaging, politically savvy and an all-around great guy.  Many of us at NASAA had an opportunity to interact and work with him over the years and respected his abilities to advocate on behalf of the IAA and its members.  What some may not realize is NASAA and David share a common bond – a history rooted in Kansas and its wide blue skies. His strong and reasoned voice will be missed.

Joseph Brady, NASAA Executive Director

Briggs_Nathan__4x5.jpgIt goes without saying that David was a preeminent securities lawyer, particularly in the area of investment advisers, but I will remember him most, and with great warmth, as someone who made others feel comfortable, confident and as though he truly respected and cared about them.  That’s not something we come across very often in our industry.  I always appreciated that in David and continue to aspire to be more like him in that regard.  He was a truly unique person and I will miss him.

Nathan Briggs, Partner, Ropes & Gray

David was a special person in every way.  He made a very positive impact to our profession and to his many friends. He was truly a friend’s friend.

Luther King, Former Chair, IAA Board of Governors
President, Luther King Capital Management

David was warm, funny, and a great colleague. We worked together on many issues of shared interest. I’m sad, but very grateful that I had the opportunity to work with someone like David who was totally dedicated to his organization and its members.

Duane Thompson, Senior Policy Analyst at Fi360

The investment advisory industry has lost a great leader with David’s passing and I have lost a friend. David had an uncanny knack for being able to assimilate a wide and often appearing disparate set of facts and circumstances in the realm of investment advisory practices, concerns, issues and regulatory positions and have them make sense in a way that I have rarely seen in my experience. David was always genuinely interested in how I was doing, my career and was always there when I reach out and for whatever reason. I was proud to know David, but more than that, I was fortunate to have such a great teacher, leader and friend.

J. Christopher Jackson, SVP and General Counsel, Calamos Investments

Ostreicher_David_4x5.jpgDavid was a welcoming, kind and thoughtful leader, colleague and friend. He could command a room - whether through insightful and passionate debate, understated wit and charm, or entertaining piano and song. David connected with people. You could see it in his eyes and feel it in the time he took to listen. He remembered big and small details alike. His passion for the IAA, the industry at large and, most importantly, the clients we all represent, were hallmarks of his character and energy. He will be missed but remembered fondly. 

David Oestreicher, Chief Legal Counsel, T. Rowe Price
Former IAA Board Member

 I walked the Hill with him, meeting with regulators and legislators. David helped teach me the ropes when I first got into the policy advocacy arena; he was a real pro. More important than all that, he was a special human being. He was smart, educated, driven yet patient, witty and insightful, always respectful of others, and a real gentle, gracious soul. And I know he was a Kansas Jayhawk to the end.

 Perhaps my favorite memory of David was the night of his ‘retirement’ party from Investment Adviser Association—a black tie affair. And I had heard he was a piano player... but when I witnessed him in full formal attire take to the piano, and perform a song that he had written that was self-deprecating and perhaps contained a few gentle pokes at some of his closest colleagues. ... Wow, I had no idea he was that artistically talented as well. A great memory.

Skip Schweiss, Managing Director, TD Ameritrade Institutional

DRaine_George_4x5.jpgavid embodied my highest ideals of what it means to be a true colleague.  Friendly and collegial to a fault, he always started conversations with me, whether by phone or in person, with a wry smile and the words “Mister Raine.”  When David joined Ropes & Gray for the last chapter of his storied career, he made an immediate impression and, more importantly, made immediate friends. If I had a nickel for every time a colleague or a client or someone from the broader industry, upon hearing David’s name, commented on what a kind and decent person he was, I would be a rich man indeed.  Mister David Tittsworth will be sorely missed around these halls.

George Raine, Partner, Ropes & Gray


IAA President & CEO Karen Barr presents David with gifts at his formal, black tie farewell dinner in April 2015.

David will be remembered as a passionate, dedicated, articulate, and effective advocate for the investment advisory community and for the importance of fiduciary advice. Because of his caring nature and close involvement with members, many knew David personally and collaborated with him on IAA projects. Over the nearly two decades I worked with him, David became not just my colleague and mentor, but a valued and cherished friend. Our organization–indeed, the entire investment advisory community–owes a great debt of gratitude to David.

Karen Barr, IAA President & CEO

Simon__Neil_4x5_LR.jpgDavid had a 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.

Neil Simon, IAA Vice President, Government Relations

Trying to increase the chances that the ‘government’ is an informed and helpful partner to advisors is David Tittsworth’s stock in trade. 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.

Investment Advisor Magazine, naming David to its 2011 list
of the Most Influential People to Watch

David was a truly remarkable person in possessing the rare combination of deep kindness, endless charm, fierce intellect. unstoppable wit and humility. The securities industry has lost one of its shining stars. David was the strongest champion in our time of the fiduciary duty owed to investors. He relentlessly promoted the important discussion of this professional requirement when many in the securities industry were working to minimize that duty. I feel very fortunate to have had David as a friend, colleague and mentor. I will miss his warmth, kind words, insight and wisdom.

Mary Keefe, former Director of Regulatory Affairs, Nuveen Asset Management
Former member, IAA Board of Governors

I can still hear David say “Governor Wondrack” with his drawl and smile – every time it made me laugh – even now. I am grateful to have learned from, worked with and been roasted by him! His ability to connect with people, quick wit and deep knowledge brought the community together. I admire, respect and will miss him.

Linda Wondrack, EVP, Head of Compliance for Advice Solutions, Fidelity Investments
Former IAA Board Member

David was a great friend. He never failed to show up when called, armed with self-deprecating humor, wisdom, and an endlessly generous spirit. He was there at the worst and best of times, to help a friend defeat disappointment and celebrate success. He made life more fun. He brought the music and he lifted the room. David had an honesty and a truth about him, a real straight-to-the heart-of-it. I will miss him.

Paula Drake, Managing Director, General Counsel, HarbourVest Partners
Former IAA Board Member

David Tittsworth is one of the most articulate and instrumental voices in favor of the fiduciary standard of care for investment advisers. (His June 6, 2012 testimony before the House Financial Services Committee) is perhaps the clearest and most comprehensive explanation of why a self-regulatory organization for investment advisers is not in the best interest of investors or for effective oversight of investment advisers.

We are fortunate to have David on our side in the debate over the fiduciary standard of care. He is the ideal spokesperson on behalf of investment advisers who are serving the best interests of their clients.

Ron Rhoades, Chair of the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard,
presenting David with its 2014 Fiduciary of the Year Award

Marshall__Richard_LR_4x6.jpgDavid Tittsworth was a quiet, modest man. He was never flashy or self-aggrandizing. He cared deeply about his friends and colleagues, most of whom were also his friends because of his nature. But he was no wallflower. He led a major trade organization for almost twenty years and had an exemplary career in Washington. He was an effective lawyer and a dynamic leader. How could such a modest, caring person be so effective?  He was “too nice” – in a Midwestern way.  He was a good citizen – competent, hardworking, and always striving to do what was right.

But above all, he was, in all things, a gentleman. That’s a term that’s not often used today. This is how John Walter Wayland defined a gentleman in 1899 – and how I describe my friend and colleague David Tittsworth today:

 “The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.”

David Tittsworth was a gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Richard D. Marshall, Partner, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

Chegwidden_Bryan_4x5.jpgRopes & Gray is deeply saddened by the passing of David Tittsworth. We were fortunate to have David join us in 2015, after 18 years as President & CEO of the Investment Adviser Association. 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. The firm, and our clients, truly valued his wise counsel and deep understanding of the asset management industry, enriched by his quick wit and warm demeanor. His family and friends are in our thoughts.

Bryan Chegwidden, Partner, Ropes & Gray
Head of Global Asset Management Group

Conry_Colleen_4x5.jpgDavid was an amazing colleague and dear friend.  He had that rare combination of unparalleled legal skill, thoughtfulness, and an incredibly warm sense of humor.  He will be sorely missed by those of us who had the privilege of working with him every day.

Colleen Conry, Partner, Ropes & Gray

Hiller_Thomas_4x5.jpgI feel so fortunate that David decided to join us after his many years at the IAA.  He was someone you were always excited to have a reason to call or drop in on.  His approach to work and life offered such a terrific example – for someone with such extraordinary insights and knowledge, he approached every interaction with modesty, gratitude and humor.  He was just a delightful person to be around.  Words can’t express how much we miss him.

Tom Hiller, Partner, Ropes & Gray

David was a great friend and colleague.  He went out of his way to help people and really valued personal relationships.  He will be truly missed.

Jeremiah Williams, Partner, Ropes & Gray

Reza_Elizabeth_4x5.jpgDavid was a wonderful colleague and friend.  He was generous in so many ways – with his time, his advice, his knowledge, his connections.  In addition, David had a delightfully irreverent sense of humor that made it fun to be with him in any setting.  David will be missed.

Elizabeth Reza, Partner, Ropes & Gray

Rail_Brynn_4x5.jpgI treasured my friendship with David. He was as brilliant and charismatic as he was gracious and kind. It was impossible to not feel good after an encounter with David; he had an extraordinary gift for lifting people up and bringing out the best in them. I will miss his mischievous grin and his incredible sense of humor and will forever carry him in my heart.

Brynn Rail, Ropes & Gray Partner