Best places to work: FORT WASHINGTON INVESTMENT ADVISORS

Cincinnati | 118 employees | 2nd among organizations with 100 to 499 employees

Kim Chiodi
Kim Chiodi, senior vice president of human resources, said a candidate's “mouth dropped” during an interview when she told him about the free breakfast and lunch.

There might not be any free lunch in investing, but there certainly is one every day at Cincinnati-based Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc.

Free breakfast, too.

The meals are among the many amenities company executives offer to “provide a wonderful work-life balance,” said Maribeth Rahe, president and CEO.

“The quality of the food is excellent and they also offer take-home dinners,” Ms. Rahe said.

Kim Chiodi, senior vice president of human resources, said a candidate's “mouth dropped” during an interview when she told him about the free breakfast and lunch. “We make their life easy for them,” she said.

To maximize time with family outside of work, Fort Washington lets employees take care of errands at work, as well as exercise with its free fitness center and basketball court. There is also a company library, concierge service and convenience store. Employees can pick up discount tickets to events and can do all their holiday and Thanksgiving shopping right at work, Ms. Rahe said.

“It's just another perk where not many companies would consider doing that,” Ms. Rahe said.

Another perk that is not seen at too many companies anymore is an open defined benefit pension plan for new employees, as well as a supplemental 401(k) plan.

“Associates know the organization is taking care of them if they are taking care of themselves,” Ms. Chiodi said.

The comments from employees in Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey echo the sentiments of Ms. Rahe and Ms. Chiodi. The “company stresses quality of life both inside and outside of work,” one respondent said, while others often cited free lunch, strong benefits and career opportunities.

A collaborative, team-oriented environment is also stressed at Fort Washington.

“It's not about the star theory,” Ms. Rahe said. “We're looking for "we' people, not "me' people.”

Ms. Chiodi said the executives will not hire someone unless they are 99% sure the person will succeed. They look for people with humility, leadership and problem-solving skills. At least 50% of open positions are filled from within, Ms. Chiodi added.

And Fort Washington's dedication does not end with its employees.

“The company is very involved in the community,” Ms. Rahe said. “There is a real sense of community and pride in what we do and represent.”

Fort Washington associates supported more than 30 client events and made $235,000 in charitable donations in 2012. Employees also run marathons and participate in “massive bike rides” and triathlons, Ms. Rahe said. Parent company Western & Southern Financial Group donated $20 million to 200 charitable organizations last year.

“That is very high compared to other organizations,” Ms. Chiodi said. “We do it because that's who we are and believe it is what we should be doing.”

Recently, a group of young professionals was formed to create new, fresh ideas for the company. A mentoring program was launched last year as a result of this group, and implemented with Ms. Rahe. She said the firm has been hiring so many young professionals it had to develop a mentor program, which she said has gone well in its first year.

“Fort Washington is really a work-hard, play-hard organization,” Ms. Chiodi said.