Andrew Jaques, CEO at MHP Financial, on how financial PR is changing, the success of the agency’s ‘Missing People’ campaign and why he enjoys ‘wild swimming’ year round.
Prior to joining MHP, you enjoyed a long career as a corporate broker. What inspired you to make the change? And how did the experience prepare you for the world of financial PR?
I was swayed by the appeal of using both my corporate broking skills in a complementary industry, and the team I joined at what was Hogarth (the “H” in MHP) in 2000.
Moving into financial PR gave me the opportunity to be a Partner in an entrepreneurial business whilst continuing to use my capital markets experience and network to help that business grow. Corporate broking is very similar to financial PR – at its core, it’s all about relationships.
How has financial PR changed in your time as MHP Financial’s CEO? What changes do you predict over the next five years?
Companies are increasingly looking for a joined-up approach to their overall communications, with financial PR as a vital part of an integrated offer. This has been key to the stream of new client wins we’ve had this year, such as FTSE 250s: Cobham, Shaftesbury and HarbourVest Global Private Equity.
The creation of MHP (the merger of three different agencies; Mandate, Hogarth and Penrose) in 2010 is a testament to this trend, and we have increasingly seen existing and new clients requiring the services of our colleagues in corporate affairs, health, brand, digital and design alongside financial comms.
What would you say are the biggest challenges facing the financial and investor communications industries today, and how can PR professionals overcome them?
Keeping pace with the fast-changing nature of the financial and media worlds is an ongoing focus. A “standardised” financial comms programme is no longer enough, with the ongoing growth of digital, online and 24-hour news creating huge complexity. Companies require more bespoke communications solutions and a broader suite of tools to deliver these.
We have overcome these by continuing to strengthen our capabilities; for example, this year MHP launched a dedicated Crisis team and specialist Media unit upon which the whole agency can call. From a financial PR perspective, we think this has given us an edge when advising clients on special situations this year – whether high profile reputation issues, defined benefit pension schemes, M&A or major rights issues.
Is there a single piece of advice you’ve been given over the course of your career that’s stuck with you?
I’ve never forgotten the mantra of one of my most longstanding colleagues: at all times have a healthy degree of paranoia about the quality and consistency of the service you’re giving your clients.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role at MHP, and why?
Leading a hugely talented, ambitious and fun team, and working with them as they grow into the comms leaders of the future. Our people are our business and it is down to them that we have had such an excellent 2017 so far despite the prevailing political uncertainty.
MHP has produced some truly innovative campaigns over the years, from its #MissingType campaign for the NHS to Game’s ‘Christmas Tinner’. But which of the campaigns you’ve worked on are you most proud of and why?
From Missing Type to Missing People. Last month, we launched an amazing new CSR initiative for Palmer & Harvey, the UK’s largest delivered wholesaler, called Delivering Hope in partnership with the Missing People charity.
By putting the anonymity of P&H’s vans to good purpose, we utilised the beige space on their vehicles to display appeals of missing children and adults. It’s more than just a PR stunt. Just one week after the launch, one of the missing people featured in the campaign was found safe and well.
How do you like to unwind after a long week at work?
Family first always but Daniel Start’s brilliant book ‘Wild Swimming’ has inspired me with a certain madness to jump in and out of rivers and lakes at all times of the year.