Review of Altfest Personal Wealth Management 2021

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Updated on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Altfest Personal Wealth Management is a small investment management firm based in New York. The firm typically only accepts clients with a minimum investment of $1 million. For these high net worth clients, Altfest Personal Wealth Management provides customized investment portfolios with comprehensive financial planning services.

The bottom line: Altfest Personal Wealth Management is a small New York-based firm that mostly caters to high net worth individuals, although there are exceptions.

  • Focuses on customized portfolio management
  • Offers extensive financial planning services
  • Typically has a $1 million investment minimum
Assets under management: $1,500,253,342
Minimum investment: Generally $1 million
Individual investor to advisor ratio: 41:1
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, hourly charges, fixed fees
Headquarters: 445 Park Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212-406-0850

All information included in this profile is accurate as of June 29, 2021. For more information, please consult Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s website.

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Overview of Altfest Personal Wealth Management

Altfest Personal Wealth Management, launched in 1983, specializes in creating customized, actively managed investment portfolios for high net worth clients. The firm also provides financial planning services. The New York-based firm is small, with just under 40 employees, around 16 of whom perform investment advisory functions.

A look at the founder of Altfest Personal Wealth Management

Dr. Lewis Altfest is the founder of Altfest Personal Wealth Management. He is still the majority owner of the firm and acts as CEO. Altfest is a family affair: Lewis runs the organization along with his wife, Dr. Karen Altfest, the firm’s executive vice president, and their son, Andrew Altfest, the firm’s president.

Both Lewis and Karen hold Ph.Ds; Lewis is an associate professor of finance at Pace University. All of them are certified financial planners (CFPs). The firm and the Altfest family have won numerous awards for their performance, and both Lewis and Karen are regular contributors to financial news programs and publications.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s pros

  • Highly educated management team: The heads of the firm, Dr. Lewis Altfest and Dr. Karen Altfest, both hold Ph.Ds; Lewis is also an associate professor of finance at Pace University. In addition, many of the financial advisors at the firm hold the CFP designation.
  • Customized investment approach: Altfest Personal Wealth Management designs a customized portfolio for every client, tailored to their specific needs, and doesn’t lump people into one-size-fits-all funds as some firms may do.
  • Extensive financial planning in addition to investing: Altfest Personal Wealth Management also specializes in financial planning. When the firm creates a portfolio recommendation, it goes over a client’s entire financial situation before designing the portfolio, not just their existing investments.
  • Wide range of awards: Over the past few years, Altfest Personal Wealth Management has been recognized as a top investment advisor by publications including Barron’s, Forbes, Financial Times and Financial Advisor magazine. Additionally, Forbes has for the past several years named Dr. Karen Altfest one of the top women advisors in the country. The firm has also won recognition for its service to doctor and dentist clients in particular.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s cons

  • Investment fees on the higher end: Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges an annual 1% asset-based fee on the first $3 million in a client’s account (plus an additional 0.10% per quarter if their portfolio value falls below $2 million). MagnifyMoney reported in 2020 that the standard annual fee among investment advisory firms ranges from 0.50% to 1.25% of assets under management, noting that the rate is usually lower for clients with higher portfolios. At Altfest Personal Wealth Management, you have to go above $3 million to get a rate that goes below 1%. Additionally, the firm’s hourly fee ranges from $500 to $800, well above the typical range of $100 to $400 noted in MagnifyMoney’s report.
  • High minimum to open an account: It takes at least $1 million to open an account with Altfest Personal Wealth Management. While the firm does waive the minimum at its discretion, the typical investor would need to be relatively wealthy to make use of the firm’s services. Andrew Altfest, in a 2019 interview with ThinkAdvisor, noted that the firm may waive that minimum in particular for young professionals who can grow with the firm.
  • Only has one location in New York City: The only way to visit the Altfest Personal Wealth Management office in person is in New York City, the firm’s only location.

What types of clients does Altfest Personal Wealth Management serve?

Well over half of the firm’s clients are high net worth individuals. To work with Altfest Personal Wealth Management, a client usually needs a portfolio of at least $1 million — however, Altfest notes that it does make some exceptions to this account minimum.

Services offered by Altfest Personal Wealth Management

Altfest Personal Wealth Management specializes in investment management and financial planning. Most of the firm’s investment accounts are run on a discretionary basis, meaning that Altfest Personal Wealth Management advisors can make trades on behalf of the client. The firm does have a few nondiscretionary accounts, where the client must approve all trades themselves.

If a client only wants a few investment recommendations, rather than the management of their entire portfolio, the firm can provide this service as well.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management also offers comprehensive financial planning, as many of its advisors hold the certified financial planner (CFP) designation, a professional certification for financial planners. The firm’s financial planning services include the creation of a detailed financial plan outlining the necessary steps to achieve their goals and objectives. The plan can address specific areas, such as college savings, estate planning and debt management.

More specifically, Altfest’s services include:

  • Investment advisory services and portfolio management (mainly discretionary but some non-discretionary)
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Company benefits
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Education planning
    • Tax planning
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Budgeting and strategic planning
    • Debt management
    • Investment review
  • Insurance and risk management
  • Newsletters and publications

How Altfest Personal Wealth Management invests your money

Altfest Personal Wealth Management builds unique, customized portfolios for each client based on their time horizon, risk tolerance, income level and long-term goals.

As part of this analysis, the firm follows a system called Total Portfolio Management. Rather than only looking at a client’s investment history, the firm also gets to know their entire financial plan, including income, debts, spending requirements and future earnings potential. The firm uses this information to focus on asset allocation and diversification, and ultimately create a portfolio that maximizes tax benefits.

Portfolios generally are composed of the following investment types:

Altfest Personal Wealth Management follows an active investment approach, meaning the firm is regularly trading in an attempt to earn above-average portfolio returns for its clients.

Fees Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges for its services

For portfolio management services, Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges a fee based on a percentage of assets under management, with the rate ranging from 0.50% to 1.00%, depending on the size of the client’s portfolio. Altfest does not charge trading commissions or performance-based fees.

Fee Schedule for Altfest Personal Wealth Management
Portfolio Size Annual Asset-Based Fee
First $3 million* 1.00%
Between $3,000,001 and $6,000,000 0.75%
Over $6,000,000 0.50%
*If a portfolio falls below $2 million in value at the end of the quarter, the firm will assess an additional 0.10% fee on top of the asset-based fee listed above.

For “young professional” clients who don’t meet the firm’s portfolio minimums, Altfest charges the following fee schedule:

  1. In the first year, the firm charges a minimum quarterly fee of $625.
  2. After the first year, the firm charges $375 per quarter.

This rate includes cash flow analysis, investment analysis, investment management and 401(k) recommendations. Clients who want additional financial planning services will be billed at a rate of $250 per hour.

If a client only wants standalone investment recommendations, Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges either an hourly fee ranging from $500 to $800 an hour, or a fixed fee of at least $3,500 for specific investment recommendation requests.

Finally, some of the investments included in Altfest’s portfolio recommendations may carry additional fees. Clients are responsible for covering these costs, though the money won’t go to Altfest Personal Wealth Management.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

Altfest Personal Wealth Management reports that it has faced no disciplinary incidents over the past 10 years. Whenever an SEC-registered firm or its employees or affiliates face disciplinary action — including a criminal charge, a regulatory infraction or a civil lawsuit — the firm is required to report that incident in its Form ADV, paperwork filed with the SEC.

For more information on Altfest, go to its IAPD page.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management onboarding process

To start the onboarding process with Altfest Personal Wealth Management, you can request a free consultation with one of its advisors. You can contact the firm in the following ways:

  • By phone at 212-406-0850
  • By email at [email protected]
  • By filling out a form on the firm’s website, which requests you to share your story to help the firm start determining whether you’re a good fit based on your income and profession

If it seems like a good match, the firm’s advisors will then get to work designing your customized investment portfolio based on your goals, risk tolerance and overall financial situation. When you’re ready to launch, the firm’s advisors will take care of the following items:

  • Opening your new accounts
  • Transferring over your existing accounts
  • Making the necessary investments
  • Keeping up with the records for your portfolio

Performance reports are sent to paying clients on a quarterly basis.

Where Altfest Personal Wealth Management is located

The firm has just one location, in New York City.

Is Altfest Personal Wealth Management right for you?

If you’re a high net worth individual or young professional who wants personalized investment recommendations combined with financial planning, Altfest Personal Wealth Management could be a good choice. Since Altfest Personal Wealth Management only has one location in New York City, however, the firm might be a better choice if you live in the Northeast rather than other parts of the country.

On the other hand, Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s comprehensive services do not come cheap. The firm’s fees are higher than average, and you’d need at least $1 million to open an account (unless Altfest waives the minimum). If you want a simpler investment strategy or prefer to manage your portfolio more on your own, you could find less expensive advisors than Altfest Personal Wealth Management. Be sure to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for you.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.