Global Financial PR Agencies of the Year | Holmes Report

2015 Global Financial Agencies of the Year

Our 2015 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 400 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Analysis of all agencies in each category can be accessed via the navigation menu or here. Winners were announced at the 2015 Global SABRE Awards, at the Global PR Summit in Miami on the evening of 28th October.

Winner — Adfactors (India, Independent)

Indian powerhouse Adfactors—which, with fee income of $20 million is the only firm from the sub-continent to rank in the world’s top 100—is best known for its work in the corporate and financial realm, despite its recent diversification. Long-term clients include major Indian manufacturing companies and multinational financial services giants: Larsen & Toubro (India’s largest engineering and infrastructure conglomerate); Mahindra Group; State Bank of India; The Carlyle Group; Jet Airways; IDBI Bank; Rothschild; and Mother Dairy.

New business over the past 12 months included Chhattisgarh Government; Deutsche Bank (India); Football Sports Development; GNRC Hospitals; Hockey India; and the India Brand Equity Foundation. Those additions have helped to cement the firm’s market leading capabilities in corporate reputation, financial communications, and issues and crisis management, as well as in the financial services and real estate sectors.

The firm’s PR campaign for State Bank of India, demonstrated its traditional and emerging capabilities, helping India’s largest and oldest commercial bank connect with younger customers. Madan Bahal’s firm is similarly differentiated by its values: an investment in professional development that has seen Adfactors send its rising stars to the Indian School of Business, Indian Institute of Management, and Harvard, among others; an in-house gymnasium and regular yoga classes; and a commitment to corporate responsibility that has led the firm to decline clients in tobacco and gambling as well as major multinationals with dubious environmental records.—PH


Cannings Purple (Australia/WPP)

Last year marked a decade in business and a defining year for Cannings Purple as culture the firm rallied under the banner ‘Greater Together.’ Like many agencies, this reflects an integrated approach across its practice areas: investor relations, corporate affairs, government relations, design and digital. So far, the new vision seems to be paying off remarkably.

Fee income for the 12 months to June 15 was up by a very impressive 110%. The shop is now 27 consultants and support staff who manage more than 100 active clients across its offices in Perth (main), Sydeny and Canberra. Among those clients are Straits Resources, Sirius Resources Base, Captain Cook Cruises, Thermomix and Gold Royalties Response, among others. Well-connected Australian businessman Norman Moore is chairman, while Warrick Hazeldine leads as managing director.

Earlier this year, the firm developed and launched Perth’s only executive-level, social media training seminar. ‘Masterclass: Social Media’ — a tailored, high-level strategy session which assists executives to identify how social media can improve their reputation, communication and ultimately, their company’s bottom line. The masterclass is run by director of design and digital, Jamie Wilkinson and “demand has been high since its launch in early 2015.” Notable work includes the #heartofgold campaign for Gold Royalties Response Group in early 2014 that brought together a dozen gold miners to be a unified voice in response to the Western Australian Government’s royalty review.—AaS


Three years after the merger of WPP’s UK financial communications specialist Finsbury and US corporate consultancy Robinson Lerer & Montgomery, the combined business rebranded under the Finsbury name and began to see the results of a combination that clearly boosted its transaction credentials globally, elevating the US business into the front rank in terms of special situations support.

Now capable of providing global reach, the firm advised AstraZeneca on its defense against a hostile Pfizer bid; Citizens Financial Group and OM Asset Management on their New York Stock Exchange IPOs; Walgreens and Alliance Boots on their trans-Atlantic merger; and Holcim on its merger with Lafarge—all while continuing to offer top-of-the-line corporate reputation, crisis and issues and management and public affairs expertise. It has also handled high-profile corporate assignments for clients such as Verizon, Starbucks, Statoil, and Reed Elsevier (now RELX Group).

New business came from AIG, Alcoa, Alibaba, BAE Systems, Charles Schwab, Citizens Financial Group, Duke Energy, Holcim, Nielsen, Old Mutual Asset Management and Qualcomm. And in a series of personal moves that put the firm on a solid footing for the future, Michael Gross, based in New York, was appointed to succeed RLM co-founder Walter Montgomery (who continues to offer senior counsel) as CEO; Stephen Labaton, a former The New York Times award-winning journalist, stepped into the US president role; and Kal Goldberg, former senior managing director at FTI, joined as partner to further strengthen the M&A practice.—PH

ICR (US/Independent)

From its inception as an investor relations specialist in 1998, ICR has grown to become one of the top 10 independent PR firms in the US with 500 clients, 160 employees, and fee income in excess of $50 million. It has also expanded its capabilities considerably, supplementing its formidable financial calendar work—often dismissed as an off-the-shelf offering—with broader corporate PR expertise (corporate positioning and stakeholder engagement), crisis communications (product recalls, accounting issues, data breaches), special situations (flirting with a top five spot in the M&A rankings), and most recently public affairs, with the recent addition of industry veteran Michael Robinson as managing director.

It continues to differentiate itself by hiring former sell-side analysts (more than 60 of them) in the image of co-founder and CEO Thomas Ryan, who blends an understanding of the information needs of financial stakeholders and strong storytelling expertise. The firm has impressive expertise in 20 industry sectors, notably in financial services, technology, healthcare, retail, and apparel. There are plenty of big name clients too—most of which now use ICR as their retained corporate and financial counsel.

Interesting work has included helping Keurig rebound after criticism from a prominent hedge fund manager; supporting Freedom Group after a YouTube video-inspired product recall; and working with Diamond Foods on its recovery from an accounting scandal and leadership transition. What these efforts have in common with most of the firm’s work is a tangible impact on the company’s market valuation.—PH

Newgate (Porta Communications)

Founded in 2011 by Citigate Dewe Rogerson veterans Jonathan Clare and Deborah Saw as part of the Porta Communications group, Newgate has enjoyed impressive momentum through its first four years in business, establishing a global footprint that includes offices in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore in addition to its London headquarters and operations in the US and UAE.

Its Asia-Pacific operations are only a couple of years old: early in 2013, the firm hired 12-year Asia veteran Richard Barton, former Asia managing partner of Kreab Gavin Anderson; a few months later the firm opened in Singapore under the leadership of Terence Foo, another Krean Gavin Anderson veteran; and in August of the same year it established Newgate Australia with a team of 20 consultants headed by Brian Tyson, managing partner, and Felicity Allen, deputy managing partner.

By that time, the firm was already ranked among the top 10 M&A advisors in the region, handling 14 deals over the course of the year. Today, the firm has a balanced book of business that includes M&A, IPO, and capital markets work. Last year saw the opening of a Beijing office and the appointments of former Thomson Reuters executive David Schlesinger and HSBC veteran Tom Grimmer as senior advisors to the firm, as well as the appointment of Dan Billings from FTI Consulting as director of the Hong Kong financial practice, as the firm continued to expand its presence in the region.—PH