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Johnson Investment Counsel Review

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Johnson Investment Counsel, Inc.

As the unusual word “counsel” in its name suggests, Johnson Investment Counsel is not your typical practice. It was founded by Tim Johnson, a business professor at the University of Cincinnati who was always happy to advise friends on their finances. When the requests became more than he could handle, including from institutions, he decided to hire people and start the firm.  

That was 1965. Today, the firm manages nearly $10.7 billion in assets and employs 68 advisors. With headquarters in Cincinnati, the fee-only practice is No. 3 on SmartAsset’s top financial advisor firms lists for both Cincinnati and Ohio. Johnson Investment also has offices in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton - and as of 2019, Chicago and Detroit.

Johnson Investment Counsel Background

Johnson Investment has been in business for more than 50 years. In 2013, Tim Johnson stepped down as president, and long-time employee Jason Jackman, who had been director of fixed income and institutional management, took the helm (Johnson remains chairman of the company). 

The firm takes great pride in the fact that it is independent (Johnson has turned down many overtures from larger companies over the years) and that it is completely employee owned. According to its Form ADV brochure, 30 employees own shares in the firm, with Johnson having the biggest stake (though it is still less than 25%).

With offices in four major Ohio cities, Johnson Investment is a strong presence in the state. In 2019, it began its expansion into southeastern Michigan and Illinois, opening offices in Metro Detroit and Chicago.

What Types of Clients Does Johnson Investment Counsel Accept?

Johnson Investment serves mostly individuals who do not have a high net worth. That said, it recently raised its minimum account requirement to $1,000,000, indicating a direction toward wealthier clients. The firm also works with investment companies, pension and profit-sharing plans, trusts, estates, charitable organizations, corporations and other business and governmental entities.

Johnson Investment Counsel Minimum Account Sizes

The firm generally requires a $1,000,000 investment, though it may waive the minimum at its discretion. For its online platform program, the minimum is $5,000. 

Services Offered by Johnson Investment Counsel

Johnson Investment provides investment management on a discretionary basis, which means clients authorize it to make trades when it deems them appropriate. The firm also offers portfolio management services through its automated, online platform. On this platform, which is sponsored by Schwab Performance Technologies, you can invest only in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Additionally, the firm offers financial planning, family office services, trust services and charitable planning - plus advisory services to mutual funds, retirement plans and businesses.

Johnson Investment Counsel Investing Philosophy

Advisors work as a team when designing client portfolios to tap the firm’s collective experience and expertise. It describes its process as “sophisticated yet logical and understandable, blending together the art and science of portfolio management.”

Generally, its equity strategy involves a bottom-up, quantitative approach. With fixed income, the firm uses both macro and micro strategies, looking for quality yield and appropriate maturities.

Fees Under Johnson Investment Counsel

Johnson Investment collects management fees based on a percentage of the client’s AUM. Though the firm may waive or negotiate its fees, there is a $5,000 minimum annual fee. Here is the tiered fee schedule:

Assets under Management Annual Fee 
First $1,000,000 1.00% 
Next $2,000,000 0.80% 
Next $2,000,000 0.60% 
All funds thereafter 0.50%

Johnson Investment Counsel Awards and Recognition

The Financial Times named Johnson Investment as one of the top 300 investment advisors in the country in 2019.

In 2018, Barron's ranked the firm No. 20 in its top 40 list of investment advisor firms in the country.

Additionally, in 2017, the firm won InvestmentNews’ Best Practices Award for Excellence in Compensation and Staffing.

What to Watch Out For

Johnson Investment may recommend Johnson Mutual Funds, which it sponsors and advises on behalf of its wholly owned subsidiary, Johnson Financial, Inc. These referrals may present a conflict of interest, since advisors have a financial incentive to recommend affiliate services. The firm, though, states that it believes that “compensation charged by our affiliates is competitive.” It also states that clients are under no obligation to invest in its affiliate mutual funds.  


In its most recent SEC filings, Johnson Investment reported that it had one disclosure within the past 10 years. It involves a criminal complaint filed against an advisor in 2018. The allegation has to do with the disposition of asbestos during a renovation and is not related to the advisor’s financial duties or role. As of June 2019, he is waiting to contest the allegation at trial. 

Opening an Account With Johnson Investment Counsel

To contact Johnson Investment, send a message on its site, https://www.johnsoninv.com/contact. Alternately, call headquarters or the office nearest you:

Cincinnati (headquarters) - (800) 541-0170

Cincinnati-Kenwood - (844) 389-2761

Cleveland - (440) 877-9990

Columbus - (866) 365-4523

Dayton - (800) 851-9114

Chicago - (312) 519-8474

Detroit - (248) 412-9010

Where Is Johnson Investment Counsel Located?

Headquarters are located at 3777 West Fork Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45247. 

The other offices are at:

7755 Montgomery Road, Suite 180, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236

7000 Fitzwater Road, Suite 110, Brecksville, Ohio 44141 (Cleveland office)

50 West Broad Street, Suite 1130, Columbus, Ohio 43215

40 North Main Street, Suite 2110, Dayton, Ohio 45423

125 S. Clark Street, 17th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60603

39555 Orchard Hill Place, Suite 600, Novi, Michigan 48375 (Metro-Detroit location)

All information was accurate as of the writing of this article. 

Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor 

  • Ask how advisor candidates get paid. Those whose only compensation is the fees they collect from you will likely have fewer conflicts of interests than those who also receive commissions. That said, if any advisors say they are fiduciaries, that means they will work in your best interests.
  • Use SmartAsset’s pro matching tool. Simply answer questions about your financial situation and preferences, and the program will match you with up to three suitable advisors in your area.

How Many Years $1 Million Lasts in Retirement

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where $1 million will last the longest in retirement. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about the cost of living in retirement for that location.

Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology To determine how long a $1 million nest egg would cover retirement costs in cities across America, we analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. This reflects the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research