The firm was founded in 1983, a product of Lewis J. Altfest’s vision for a comprehensive and genuinely objective approach to personal wealth management. From day one, our firm had a simple and straightforward relationship with its clients:
We receive our compensation from clients, and only from clients. We work on their behalf, and only on their behalf. No products are sold, nor commissions received. No conflicts of interest in making sound decisions.
In 1987 Dr. Karen C. Altfest joined Lew at the firm. Karen, a historian by training (Ph.D., The Graduate Center of the City University of New York), had created a Certified Financial Planning program for professionals at Pace University, later becoming a professional financial advisor herself. Long driven by an interest in how people lived and made decisions about their daily lives, Karen consolidated her interests by joining Altfest to advise and educate clients — especially women and their families — about their financial lives. Her goal was to have Altfest offer all clients their “lifestyle of choice.”
Even in Altfest’s early years, the media began to take notice of the firm. By 1987 Money magazine cited Lew Altfest as one of the best financial planners in America. During the 1990's, Lew and Karen Altfest and the firm were recognized as leading advisors by Worth, Mutual Funds and Medical Economics magazines. This trend continues today, with Money, Worth, and Barron's all recently ranking members of our firm among the leading advisors in the nation, and Wealth Manager magazine naming Karen as one of its “50 Distinguished Women in Wealth Management.”
In 1992, Lew and Karen published their first financial book, Lew Altfest Answers Almost All Your Questions About Money. In 2001, Karen published Keeping Clients for Life, and in 2007, Lew authored Personal Financial Planning, a groundbreaking textbook now used by colleges around the country. The approach set forth in the textbook was the foundation from which the firm’s proprietary investment and financial planning tool TPM (Total Portfolio Management) grew to its use today. The three books symbolize the firm’s values – innovative and analytical financial planning and investment management, education, communication and personal lasting relationships with clients.
Financial planning and investment management have certainly changed since 1983. Back then, 529 college savings plans and Roth IRAs were nonexistent, and 401(k) accounts were just beginning to gain popularity. Mutual funds were not as prevalent and no-load mutual funds were even rarer. Amid all the changes, people discovered an increasing need to seek out objective advisors with expertise in these areas.
We, too, have grown and evolved. Back in the early ‘80s, it was only Lew Altfest. Now we have a staff of 20 dedicated, caring professionals, many graduates of top universities and business schools including a number of specialists with leading designations such as CFP® (Certified Financial Planner), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), and COA (Certified Option Advisor). And in 2005, we left our longtime home in Manhattan’s financial district to head uptown on Park Avenue to a more convenient location for our clients.
But for all the changes, Lew Altfest’s original vision – a comprehensive and truly objective approach to wealth management with a personal touch – has remained constant and at the core of what we do.