Laura Mattern is more or less typical of the kind of person attracted to the idea of working at Johnson Investment Counsel. They all generally have the same reason for being here. Laura puts it this way: “My experience is that we actually focus on the client, on doing what’s best for each client. So many financial advisory firms are all about selling the new this and the latest that. I’ve had goals in other places that were unrealistic and made it so you had to constantly think about selling.”
“The Johnson culture is all about the client. That’s the fun part of the work I do, when you can actually feel like you’re helping someone.”
“I’ve always liked that. I’ve always been one of those people who are like, ‘Oh, you’ve lost your keys? Let me help you find them.’ Helping is just fun for me. It’s its own reward.”
Laura grew up in Lexington. Her father was in school the first five years of Laura’s life at Kansas State and Iowa State. He earned his PhD in agricultural economics and taught at the University of Kentucky for 40 years. She describes her parents and the influence they had on her:
“My father is very nonjudgmental; fair-minded, not a big talker but a great listener. I married someone who is very much like him – a kind, fair, warm guy who doesn’t often get upset. My mother was always there for me, always providing wise counsel. I still run big decisions by both of them. I may not always take their advice, but I do rely on it being available to me.”
Laura met the man who would become her husband after she graduated from UK. She was working in the treasury department at Fifth Third Bank, and he worked in accounting. She recalls working long strings of 11- and 12-hour days. In those days at least, she says, a lot of young employees were dating each other. His name is Kurt. They married in 1999.
As the bank grew and acquired other banks in other cities, it dispatched its people to those places. Laura and Kurt entered a phase in their lives when they were moving a lot – starting with four years in Detroit, then six in Chicago, followed by three more years in St. Louis, then back to Cincinnati seven years ago.
Laura had decided to be a full-time mom in Detroit -- her children, Isabel and Charlie, were 18 years old and 16 respectively, as of this writing. Laura and Kurt decided the move to Cincinnati would be their last.
“I knew some people at Johnson Investment Counsel and talked to them. One of my struggles as a working mom is that, a lot of times, jobs don’t make accommodations for life and families. I liked what I heard about Johnson and didn’t even look anywhere else.”
“I loved my 14 stay-at-home mom years. But I really like the example I’m setting for my kids now. They get to see me pursuing something outside the home. They’ve been able to see, ‘Hey, Mom can handle challenges. So, yeah, I can handle challenges, too.’”