Our History

We have been in your shoes and know what it is like to walk in them, because we started in the advisory business.  In March 1987, we began our original company with the intent of serving our 401k plan clients with the best ideas, the best technology and the best practices in the newly created and growing retirement plan marketplace.  We had established some of the first 401k plans in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980’s when companies rarely had retirement plans and often didn’t know what a 401k was.

We worked with the best ideas of the day, using great mutual funds and daily valuation platforms. Later, we started an RIA firm to provide full fee disclosure and a low fee structure. We pioneered innovative ideas for employee education and had great success as we watched our plans grow.

We even entered the recordkeeping and administration business to give our clients the very best service possible. In doing so, we gained a ground level view of every aspect of the retirement planning industry.  Having sold this business along with the RIA firm, we have a unique vantage point that lets us see all aspects of the retirement plan business including plan design, investments, administration and marketing. We know what it takes to be successful in this business.

When the Tech Crash hit in March 2000, our participants lost money and we worried about the best way to help them. We had done everything right for them; yet we didn't do enough.  We researched our options and learned about Collective Investment Funds. What a great investment management vehicle! They were cheaper than mutual funds, and we could partner with great money managers to invest the money.  In our quest to set up our own Collective Funds we found a somewhat reluctant trust company to partner with and started with one trust with nine collective funds. Our clients loved the idea!  The Collective Investment Fund vehicle was so wonderful and so compelling that we decided to start our own trust company, Alta Trust Company, to fill the need for retirement plan advisors who wanted their own suite of collective investment funds and who needed a willing, experienced and entrepreneurial trust company to serve the growing Collective Investment Trust business.  

Over time, we added new services to help our clients: Fund Administration, Group Trusts, UMAs, Pooled Trust Funds, Hedge Fund and Family Office services, Welfare Benefit Trusts, Independent Trustee services and much more.

So here we are today.  Be sure to take a good look at us. We are great partners for your business. Our history tells a great story and it is compelling.  And it is only the beginning.


I have been involved in the 401k business since its inception in the early 1980’s and have worked tirelessly to find the best tools and practices for advisors, plans sponsors and participants. Along my journey, what I discovered was the great value of the collective investment trust in providing lower fees and a higher level of fiduciary oversight to retirement plans. That’s why we started Alta Trust.
— Mark Ponder, President of Alta Trust

What We Have Achieved

  • Set up the first 401k plans in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980's
  • Managed a portfolio of 200 retirement plans in Washington for over 30 years
  • Established Compass Investment Partners, a fee based RIA firm in 2004
  • Established Pension House, a TPA and record keeping firm, in 2002
  • Established 9 Collective Investment Funds in 2004 for our own clients
  • Chartered Alta Trust Company in South Dakota in 2007
  • Established home office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2007
  • Moved marketing and operations office from Seattle to Denver, Colorado in 2011
  • Sold assets in RIA, TPA and record keeping firms in 2012
  • Established over 100 Collective Investment Funds
  • Exceeded $1billon asset mark in 2016
  • Achieved clean audits for all funds over the past 10 years
  • Received clean Soc 1 audit in 2017
  • Launched Pooled Trust Fund services in 2017
  • Started our first Group Trusts and Welfare Benefit Trusts in 2018