Our History

We began our first business as investment advisors, just like many of you, so we know what it means to be engaged in taking care of and growing a book of retirement plans and wealth clients.  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 early 1980’s when companies rarely had retirement plans and often people didn’t even know what a 401k plan was.

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

We even started and managed our own recordkeeping and administration businesses 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 these businesses 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 some of their money, and we worried about how we could have helped them better. We had done everything right for our participants; yet we hadn't done enough.  So, we researched investment options and learned about Collective Investment Trusts and discovered what a great investment management vehicle they were. They were cheaper to set up and manage than mutual funds; they had better fiduciary oversight because they had a trustee and a 3(38) investment fiduciary; and they gave us a way to partner with great money managers to invest the money.  In our quest to set up our own Collective Investment Trust, we found a somewhat reluctant trust company to partner with and started with nine collective investment funds.

Our clients loved these funds!  And we learned that the Collective Investment Trust vehicle was so useful and so compelling for our own clients that we decided to start our own trust company, Alta Trust Company, to fill the need for retirement plan advisors across the US who wanted to start their own suite of collective investment funds and who needed a willing, experienced and entrepreneurial trust company to serve their growing businesses.  

Over time, we added new services to help our clients: Fund Administration, 81-100 Group Trusts, Unitized Managed Accounts, Private Funds, Health Savings Accounts, Independent Trustee services and much more.

So here we stand today.  We are growing, and we invite you to grow along with us. We are great partners for your business. Our history tells a great story, and it is compelling.  And it is only the start of what is ahead.


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