"Leaders overcome adversity, set their own vision, help pave a path for others to follow and are generous in helping others."

— Karen Altfest

Karen%20Altfest Karen%20Altfest

Karen Altfest

Principal adviser and executive vice president of client relations, Altfest Personal Wealth Management

"My focus on women is why I come to work every day," said Karen Altfest, principal adviser with Altfest Personal Wealth Management in New York.

In her 29 years as an adviser, she has become a devoted advocate for women, especially widows. About 60% of her clients are women.

Has she observed women becoming more financially savvy over the years?

"Yes, there's a lot more information out there," Ms. Altfest said. "But they don't know how it applies to them and how to make a choice. They're still confused."

What do women need to do?

"You need to be your own spokesperson," she said. "A lot of it comes down to ruffling feathers. It's important to stay focused on what is important to you."

Commenting on the small percentage of women financial advisers in the industry, she said, "It's still a male-dominated world, and women don't feel as welcome, as sure of themselves."

"But the field taps into a lot of women's skills, like communication, empathy and multitasking," she added.

Through the decades, Ms. Altfest has given her time to many social service causes, especially the New York Common Pantry food bank. In addition, she proudly supports her alma maters through her active association with the McGill University Alumni Board of New York and the Ph.D. Alumni Association of the Graduate Center of CUNY.

She also has been a leading educator in the industry in roles such as co-director of the financial planning and investments program at The New School.

— Deborah Nason

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