Altfest Personal Wealth Management Review - MagnifyMoney
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Altfest Personal Wealth Management Review

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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, this firm 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

All information included in this profile is accurate as of February 24, 2022. For more information, please consult Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s website.

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. It is majority owned by its founder, Dr. Lewis Altfest, who 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. All three members of the Altfest family are certified financial planners (CFPs), as are a number of other firm employees.

A look at the founder of Altfest Personal Wealth Management

Dr. Lewis Altfest is the founder of Altfest Personal Wealth Management. In addition to being the majority owner of the firm, Altfest acts as CEO.

Both Lewis and his wife Karen, the firm’s executive vice president, hold Ph.Ds. Additionally, Lewis is an associate professor of finance at Pace University. Both the firm and the Altfest family have won numerous awards for their performance, and Lewis and Karen are both 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, and some also hold the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation.
  • Customized investment approach: Altfest designs a customized portfolio for every client, tailored to their specific needs. The firm doesn’t lump people into one-size-fits-all funds as some firms may do.
  • Extensive financial planning in addition to investing: Altfest 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 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: The firm charges an annual asset-based fee of 1% 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). For comparison, the standard annual fee among investment advisory firms ranges from 0.50% to 1.25% of assets under management, with the rate usually being lower for clients with higher portfolios. At Altfest, your portfolio has to go above $3 million to get a rate below 1%. Additionally, the firm’s hourly fee ranges from $500 to $800, well above the typical range of $100 to $400.
  • High minimum to open an account: It takes at least $1 million to open an account with this firm. 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.
  • Has only one location in New York City: The only way to visit this firm’s 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, 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 specializes in investment management and financial planning. Most of the firm’s investment accounts are run on a discretionary basis, meaning that 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 also offers comprehensive financial planning, as many of its advisors hold the 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

The firm 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 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 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, the firm charges either an hourly fee ranging from $500 to $800 or a fixed fee of at least $3,500 for specific investment recommendation requests.

Additionally, some of the investments included in Altfest’s portfolio recommendations may carry additional fees. Clients are responsible for covering these costs in addition to the fees they pay the firm, though the money won’t go to the firm.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

Altfest reports that it has faced no disciplinary incidents over the past 10 years. Whenever a Securities and Exchange Commission (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 Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management onboarding process

  1. Reach out for a free consultation: You can request a free consultation with one of the firm’s advisors. You can contact the firm in the following ways:
    • By phone at 212-406-0850
    • By email at
    • 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
  2. Get your customized investment portfolio designed: 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.
  3. Take steps to get set up: 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
  4. Receive regular reports: Portfolios are reviewed on an ongoing basis, and an annual review is encouraged for clients who have received a financial plan. 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 on the higher side, with fee breaks not coming until the $3 million mark, and you’d need at least $1 million to open an account (unless Altfest waives the minimum). To ensure you choose an advisor who suits your needs and cost parameters, be sure to research multiple firms to find the right advisor for you.