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The international consulting business of Finsbury Glover Hering was formed at the beginning of 2021 by the merger of Finsbury (a UK-based financial consultancy that had absorbed the US business of Robinson Lerer), Washington public affairs consultancy Glover Park, and German corporate and financial powerhouse Hering Schuppener. (The merger also involved buying back much of the stake in the three companies held by WPP, which remains a majority partner.) In October, the firm acquired New York-based corporate and financial communications specialist Sard Verbinnen, deepening its credentials in the M&A arena and in crisis communications.
With the addition of Sard Verbinnen to Finsbury’s existing New York office, FGH is now a major player in the world’s financial capital, while the Glover Park business gives it an equally formidable presence in the most critical political center of Washington DC. There’s also a smaller West Coast presence in Los Angeles. And of course, there’s a strong international network, with market leading capabilities in the UK and Germany in particular, and a growing Asia-Pacific and Middle East presence.
The merger and subsequent acquisition make year-on-year growth difficult to track, but FGH reported fee income of $220 million to our global rankings last year and will be at $394 million on this year’s list—likely enough to rank among the top 10 public relations agencies of the world. The Sard Verbinnen deal accounts for some but by no means all of that growth—about $60 million of the growth is organic—as existing clients have taken advantage of the firm’s expanded capabilities and new clients have flocked to a genuinely global corporate and public affairs offer. Among the firm’s major retainer clients are names like Adobe, Audi, Covid vaccine developer BioNTech, CVS Health, Softbank, Tegna, Visa, and Zoom Video Communications.
One of FGH/SVC's greatest strengths is an ownership structure that provides all of the firm’s employees with a path to ownership: currently more than 400 of the firm’s more than 1,000 employees around the world are owners—almost certainly the largest number of employee owners in the business. That means FGH has a more collaborative culture than many of its direct competitors, where an eat-what-you-kill mentality often lingers. The US leadership team includes Finsbury vets like Paul Holmes and Winnie Lerner; Glover Park leaders Carter Eskew and Michael Feldman and new additions from the SVC business Andrew Cole and Paul Kranhold.
FHG/SVC is predictably involved in some of the big global issues of the day, working with Germany’s BioNTech on the Covid vaccine; representing the Office of Minnesota Attorney General in the state’s case against Derek Chauvin; and helping a number of clients decide whether and how to withdraw from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. But it has also been busy in the M&A arena, ranking number one globally and in North America on mergermarket’s database of financial transaction advisors, handling 321 transactions with a combined value of approximately $560 billion. Highlights included Axel Springer’s acquisition of Politico; Just Eat’s acquisition of Grubhub; and IPOs for Bumble, Didi Chuxing, and Dr Martens.
— Paul Holmes
A decade since it was founded by Matthew Doering with Carol Harrison, Global Gateway Advisors (GGA) has evolved into a strategic communications firm that works with companies, nonprofits, and governments to prepare for the future, building out broad, integrated programs that can protect organizations from reputational threats. That approach includes a design and content studio, services and tools for crisis management, and digital/social media offerings that range from executive thought leadership to community building. All of which adds up to a firm that brings considerable expertise in stakeholder engagement, change management, public-private dialogue, CSR and social impact, international education and DEI corporate communications.
The firm is based in New York, with 25 employees located across the US and Canada, supported by advisors around the world.
After 50% growth in 2020, GGA grew by another 40% to $6.4m in 2021, with DEI communication, CSR and social impact, and international education helping to drive expansion amid client demand for issues and reputation management. New business came from APEC Thailand and USA, Azurity, College Board, Qualtrics, Recruit Holdings and Valence, joining an existing client roster that features Atlantis, Paradise Island Bahamas, Board Challenge, Glassdoor, Guidewell/Florida Blue, Institute of International Education, Johnson & Johnson, Lonza, Ludwig Cancer Research, Outreach and Zillow.
In addition to Doering, the firm’s leadership includes partners Carol Harrison, David Fishman and MaryJo Fitzgerald, while the firm also added Jordan Band and Laura Lowery to oversee corporate/public affairs and creative, respectively. A slew of new hires amid the pandemic meant that GGA’s ‘RePro’ change management strategy became particularly important, as the firm reimagined the future of work in order to protect and enhance staff culture. The firm’s DEI commitments include professional development, talent management and ongoing equity and belonging initiatives — while GGA’s work, as evidenced by the Board Challenge and Valence, includes a specific focus on organizations that are entirely focused on DEI.
Campaign highlights included gathering world leaders to discuss the future of global trade post-Covid at APEC 2021, driving the future of work dialogue with Recruit Holdings in partnership with Indeed and Glassdoor, and elevating DEI leadership at a Fortune 100 healthcare company. In addition, GGA supported the SATs' new global digital format for the College Board, and helped advance international education and support for students and scholars in crisis with the Institute of International Education.
— Arun Sudhaman
Group Gordon has a reputation as one of the industry’s better players, both in terms of the clients it represents—a roster of philanthropies, foundations and socially responsible businesses—and in terms of its own employee culture. Seventeen years after Michael Gordon launched the firm, Group Gordon continues to show year-over-year growth while building a client roster that includes a number of progressive non-profits and socially responsible businesses, and providing corporate and public affairs advice to companies in the professional services, financial services, real estate and education sectors.
Group Gordon is based in New York.
An agency of generalists, Group Gordon has a footprint in a unique array of industries, including higher education, professional services, law, real estate, finance, tech, health, CPG, food & beverage, nonprofit and others. In 2021, the firm significantly expanded its work in law, professional services, higher education, finance, tech, and the nonprofit sector. In the last year, Group Gordon also expanded in areas beyond its core capabilities including content marketing capabilities, visual content, original research, events, and collateral. Fee income rose 15% in 2021 thanks to new business from CoPilot, Empire Financial Research, New York Botanical Garden, Accountability Counsel, Georgetown University Center for Financial Markets & Policy, and NYC DOE Office of Food and Nutrition Services among others.
Founder and CEO Michael Gordon sees the firm’s 24 employees as central to Group Gordon’s success, and over the past year has stepped up efforts to solidify a strong culture anchored in values. After assessing its DEI plan in 2020, Group Gordon instituted a revamped hiring process that led to more diverse candidates in 2021. The agency also kept cultural traditions like book clubs and its annual PR Olympics to keep employees connected while working remotely. Despite the pandemic affecting its bottom line in 2020, Group Gordon did not lay off any employees, freeze promotions, or cut salaries in 2020 or 2021.
In 2021, Group Gordon pursued thought leadership activities to further provide value to current and prospective new clients. The firm’s expanded work in higher education led to hosting webinars highlighting effective PR strategies for colleges and universities. Chief strategy officer Andrew Jarrell presented at the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference, leading a critical discussion on how law firms can authentically live up to their values, and why that matters more than ever. Group Gordon’s work in 2021 had impact. The firm helped restore state funding for clinics run by New York’s Public Health Solutions. The firm also partnered with animal welfare nonprofit SPCA International to elevate its Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program, which reunites US service members with the pets they adopted while deployed.
— Diana Marszalek
Prosek Partners was founded in 1991 with the vision that the financial services sector would one day become more proactive than reactive when it came to brand and reputation management. The financial crisis helped to hasten this reality, by which point Jennifer Prosek’s firm was already well established. Since then, Prosek has taken off, winning Global and North American Agency of the Year honours in 2021 by bringing together brand strategy, marketing, digital, communications, thought leadership and special situations counsel for financial, B2B and professional services clients. The firm’s expertise includes M&A, crisis management and IPOs, while it also stepped up ESG capabilities by taking a majority stake in female-led consultancy Blue Dot Capital. Prosek has also expanded its government affairs offering in recent years, while its creative services practice continues to accelerate.
Headquartered in New York, Prosek’s 300 employees also encompass offices in Boston, Los Angeles, Fairfield, London and Cape Town, along with new offices in Palm Beach and Washington DC.
Prosek Partners grew by a remarkable 21% in 2021 to $80m, with the firm’s focus on special situation, ESG, government affairs and brand marketing reaping handsome dividends. There was new business from Partners Group, ICE/NYSE, Levi’s, Vinson & Elkins, Goodwin Proctor, Partners Capital, Blue Owl, AIG Life & Retirement and Citi Wealth, joining an existing roster that features Bloomberg, BNY Mellon, Carlyle Group, Citi, Edward Jones, Prudential, Franklin Templeton Investments, Silicon Valley Bank, and State Street.
The firm’s transparent, flat and entrepreneurial environment gives employees varying challenges and responsibilities at every level of their career — something so ingrained in the company culture that founder and CEO, Jennifer Prosek, captured it in a book, “The Army of Entrepreneurs.” In addition to Prosek, key leaders include partners Neil Goklani, David Wells and Brian Schaffer, along with chief creative officer Anne Swan. Prosek’s commitment to DEI has resulted in 20% representation by ethnic minorities among its employee base, and 24% diversity in total, thanks to an approach that utilises DEI data collection and feedback to hear directly from staff. The firm’s Culture, Diversity, and Belonging Council encompasses diverse voices, a diverse speakers bureau and diversity training, while Prosek also provided volunteer PR support to the Diversity Action Alliance.
Prosek’s published output includes a business/financial journalism podcast, a series of DEI toolkits in partnership with the PRSA Foundation, the Climate Week video series with clients and research into AGMs and family wealth. Campaign highlights included the successful launch of Colossal, and supporting the acquisition of Hertz.
— Arun Sudhaman
Founded in 2015 by CEO Dan Simon and president Binna Kim, who previously led the US offices of Cognito, and with a leadership team that includes fellow Cognito alums Ishviene Arora (COO) and Ali Wells (chief creative officer), Vested got off to an explosive start—earning our New Agency of the Year honors in 2017—and has not looked back since. The firm’s focus on financial brands is supported by in-house creative and content studios, along with the Qwoted technology platform that connects business and finance journalists with vetted sources. The firm’s offering displays remarkable breadth, including the Scribe SEO content practice, the Vested Ventures investment, marcomms entity Caliber, the Talking Biz News business journalism news website, website development and digital marketing group Red Lab, and Financial Narrative — a community for financial marketers to share best practice. Vested also launched an ESG consultancy at the start of 2021.
Headquartered in New York, Vested also operates offices in London and Toronto.
Vested’s global revenue grew by 40% in 2021, with US fee income nearing $15m, and total headcount doubling to 100. New clients included Atlanticus, LiquidStock, Droit, Ernst & Young, Elliptic, Technisys, Unison, Mortgage Capital Trading, and Paychex, who join an existing roster that features Aon, DTCC, Acrisure, Bloomberg Communications, Diebold Nixdorf, Grayscale, DBRS Morningstar, RBC SEI and Morgan Stanley.
Vested responded to the changing nature of work by eliminating its traditional office in favour of a new collaboration hub, while its focus on culture and professional development is underpinned by the VestED program that helps employees advance in terms of understanding finance, fintech and diversity. Kim and Arora feature on a leadership team that reflects considerable DEI depth, helping financial brands tell more diverse, equitable and inclusive stories. That focus was supported by a series of DEI events and training programs, along with a recruitment partnership with DEI specialist Audeliss and the support of Lagrant Foundation.
Vested’s thought leadership includes research into the state of financial literacy in America, which inspired the creation of a children’s book called The ABCS of Finance. In addition, the firm’s Financial Marketers Index delivered insight from financial marcomms leaders from across the globe. Campaign highlights included the On Aon podcast series, and Grayscale’s efforts to elevate the legitimacy of cryptocurrency.
— Arun Sudhaman
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