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Analysis of all of the Winners and Finalists across specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners are announced at the 2023 Global SABRE Awards, taking place at the 2023 PRovokeGlobal Summit on 8 November.
Jennifer Prosek founded Prosek Partners in 1991, with the vision of helping the financial services sector become more proactive – and far more creative – around brand and reputation management. The firm’s offer now covers media relations, thought leadership, social and digital media, public affairs, investor relations, financial communications, transaction services, crisis communications and issues management, content creation, conference support, publishing, media training and more. Prosek's strategic branding and integrated marketing arm – Prophecy by Prosek – adds brand strategy, and design, digital and advertising capabilities. In 2021, Prosek stepped up its ESG credentials by taking a majority stake in sustainable finance consultancy, Blue Dot Capital – another female-led business and last year launched a joint integrated investor relations ESG offering for public and late-stage companies. The agency also launched its crypto and web3 offering last year.
Headquartered in New York, Prosek’s 340 employees also work across Boston, Los Angeles, Fairfield, Palm Beach and Washington DC, as well as in London and Cape Town.
Prosek Partners grew by 14.5% in 2022 to $91.7 million, with the firm’s focus on special situation, ESG, government affairs and brand marketing reaping handsome dividends. There was new business from Santander and MSCI, as well as an expanded brief from existing client Citi, joining a roster that includes Bridgewater, Carlyle Group, Edward Jones, Prudential, Franklin Templeton Investments and Vista Equity Partners.
Prosek is a certified Women-Owned Business and is committed to building a workforce reflecting and embracing diversity of all kinds. This has resulted in 19% ethnic representation, 45% women at SVP level and above, and a 21% diverse workforce overall, rising to 47% of post-graduate apprentices. The agency tracks DEI data and employee feedback on culture, diversity and belonging via the Pluto platform, with the aim of protecting its culture and helping senior management navigate how to best support and engage with employees on topics such as mental health, social justice, racially-charged issues, and difficult topics in the news. Additional initiatives led by the agency’s Culture, Diversity and Belonging Council include the Diverse Voices series of talks, a diversity training programme covering everything from unconscious bias to managing multigenerational employees. The firm also runs a Diverse Mentor Program, works with career services at Historically Black Universities/Colleges to recruit diverse junior talent, and provides volunteer PR support to the Diversity Action Alliance (DAA). New senior hires over the year included SVPs Johnny Chavkin, Darren Daugherty and Aiden Woglom, as well as managing directors Deirdre Bolton and Michelle Mandara.
Prosek continued its Press Profiles Podcast of senior journalists, including Financial Times senior editor Robin Wigglesworth. Campaign highlights included working on the rebrand of the New York Stock Exchange, and helping Schroders build its profile as a sustainability leader; after being unranked in the ESG NMG annual ranking of sustainable businesses, the asset management company was ranked #3 in 2022 and added paid media to Prosek’s PR and social strategy brief.
— Paul Holmes
Former HSBC and Credit Suisse in-house veteran Adam Harper launched Ashbury at the start of 2020, not necessarily ideal timing given the impending pandemic. But Harper’s vision of integrating communications strategy and content creation for financial sector clients has paid off handsomely since then, supported by specialist expertise in sustainable finance and technology. The firm provides reputation strategy, media relations, content strategy, editorial, video, creative and event development for a client base that includes banks, asset managers, data and indices providers, professional services firms, industry associations and technology firms.
There are 16 staffers across offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and remotely in London.
Ashbury’s revenue more than doubled to $2.2m in 2022, thanks in part to 30% expansion from its five largest clients, drawn from a roster that features the Asia-Pacific Loan Market Association, Credit Suisse, Episode Six, Flourish Ventures, Houlihan Lokey, HSBC, MSCI, PASLA and Serendipity Capital. There was also new business from Man Group, Digital Asset, Pentagreen and Metaco, as Ashbury benefited from its financial sector expertise and ability to blend ESG and sustainability counsel with topnotch editorial services.
Harper is supported by director of advisory Noel Cheung and director of content Steve Garton, while there were also new hires across all of the firm’s functions. As befits a small, entrepreneurial firm, there is plenty of attention paid to cultural cohesion and inclusion, supported by a formalised ‘people strategy’ that includes ongoing performance reviews and annual learning subsidies.
Ashbury’s Realise.Asia thought leadership platform is the most tangible representation of its intellectual capital, featuring high-level editorial content from the firm and its clients on key current situations. Harper is also a well-respected commentator on such issues as ESG and the Adani crisis.
— Diana Marszalek
The international consulting business of FGS (it was still Finsbury Glover Hering when it won this category last year) 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 of 2021, 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. And earlier this year, private equity group KKR acquired a significant stake in the company, joining WPP and a host of FGS employees in the ownership agreement.
FGS has 1,200 professionals across 27 global offices. In the EMEA region it has its largest operations in the UK and Germany (the heritage headquarters of Finsbury and Hering Schuppener respectively)—the latter home to four offices in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich). Several of the agencies that merged to become FGS had operations in the Asia-Pacific region and there are now 80 people spread across offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo.
Consistently cited as one of the top performing agencies in WPP’s extensive public relations portfolio, FGS experienced growth of around 8% last year, up to around $420 million in fees and holding on to its spot in the global top ten. After a year during which there was ever more urgent need for the kind of high-stakes C-suite counsel that FGS provides, the post-merger growth has continued. One metric of the firm’s success is its continued domination of the mergermarket ranking of M&A advisors: In a down year for mergers and acquisitions activity around the world, the newly-merged FGS Global ranked number one in terms of the volume of deals (322) and the value of deals ($657 billion) handled. It was number one in volume in Europe and the UK, number one in the US and Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) in both categories, and first in terms of value in the Japanese market. Positioning itself as “the strategic advisor to the stakeholder economy,” FGS is one of the “go to” firms for ambitious Asian companies (such as AIA and Alibaba) financial powerhouses (Blackrock, KKR), and top-tier MNCs (VW Group, MHI, Panasonic). Major clients include ABB, Bayer, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, Audi, KKR, 3i, Porsche, Cariad, Intel, Clariant, A22 Sports Management.
One of the things that differentiates FSG from other public relations firms of its size, and from most of its competitors in the corporate and financial ream, 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 1,200 employees around the world are owners—almost certainly the largest number of employee owners in the business. In EMEA, meanwhile, it has a formidable leadership team that includes CEO Alex Geiser, who previously led Hering Schuppener; global co-chairman Roland Rudd; Faeth Birch, CEO for the UK and international; and Brigitte von Haacke, CEO Europe. In North America, the 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. In Asia, the regional leadership team includes BBC and Bloomberg veteran Ben Richardson, partner and head of Asia; Kirsten Molyneux, partner, Hong Kong, who joined in May 2022 and leads the Asian capital markets advisory and IR practice; Minako Hattori, partner, ad joint head of Tokyo; Claudia Kosser, partner and head of Shanghai; and Xiaoni Chen, partner and head of Beijing.
There has been a greater need for C-suite public relations counsel than ever in recent years, with issues such as the pandemic (FGS worked with German vaccine developer BioNTech) to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine (the firm helped several companies decide whether, when and how to divest themselves of their Russian holdings). And the firm has been producing thought leadership on the many issues keeping CEOs awake at nights from ESG reporting to the “great resignation” to the EU’s new “green deal.” In addition to the financial transaction work that earned it the number one spot from mergermarket, specific assignments included IPOs for Porsche listing (Europe’s largest ever), and the mandate for A22 Sports Management, which is backed by the soccer clubs Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Juventus Turin. In Asia, highlights included supporting Nikon as the company launch a public tender offer to acquire German manufacturer SLM Solutions for €622 million and advising SATS on its successful €1.3 billion acquisition of Worldwide Flight Services, and helping Cathay Pacific build its investor relations capabilities in the post-pandemic recovery.
— Paul Holmes
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 alum Ishviene Arora (president), 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. In January of 2018, the firm acquired Templars Communications, a strategic financial communications agency in London, to add a UK presence.
Headquartered in New York, Vested also operates offices in London and Toronto.
Vested won 37 new clients in 2022, including Van Eck, Webster Bank, and Yieldstreet. The firm expanded existing relationships with Bloomberg and Aon, becoming their North American PR partner, and furthered robust partnerships with American Express, Morgan Stanley, SEI. Finastra. Citi TTS and HSBC among others. Revenue increased by 44% to $23.8 million, due to new client acquisition as well as increased revenue from current clients across Vested’s New York, London and Toronto offices. Vested worked with 78 different clients in 2022, a 59% increase from 49 in 2021.
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. Recently promoted EMEA chief executive Elspeth Rothwell—the new role suggests that Vested has international ambitions in the region beyond its current UK footprint—has led the UK operation since 2018 as one half of a two-person team with MD Katie Spreadbury.
Vested has garnered audiences and accolades for the On Aon podcast, a twice-monthly series featuring the people, innovations and news that define the culture of the professional services firm Aon. Vested also has a serious commitment to positioning itself as a thought leader in the financial services space, with its Qwoted technology platform and Financial Narrative, a virtual community of marketing communications leaders. It added ESG capabilities last year, and launched VestEd new education-focused product for employees and clients.
— Arun Sudhaman / Paul Holmes
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