Reinvent yourself in financial PR, or not

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With IPOs few and far between, it might seem reasonable to assume that the financial services public relations firms that help communicate the virtues of new listings are finding themselves a little over-staffed and under-occupied.

However, in true PR-form, Angus Maitland, executive chairman of PR company Maitland, assures us that this isn't the case at all.

"The IPO side of the business has all but disappeared and M&A is well down, but there have been a number of rights issues, restructurings and there's a need for PR associated with companies in difficult situations," says Maitland. "In this sense, this kind of market does produce opportunities for financial PR firms," he adds.

Maitland doesn't actually say that they're hiring at the moment. But he does say that they employ a handful of former bankers and that they're open to receiving CVs from people with banking experience. Nor does he say they're drowning in applications from ex-banking types.

This isn't the case elsewhere, however. Leila Reuter, head of the investor relations practice at recruitment firm Taylor Bennett says she gets about 30 CVs a week from people in the City who've decided they want to move into financial PR or investor relations.

According to Reuter, the move is almost impossible to make. This is because a) big PR firms like Financial Dynamics, Bell Pottinger and Brunswick are all firing rather than hiring, b) there are hardly any jobs in investor relations at the best of times, and c) former bankers are seen as overpriced.

"Senior IR people don't necessarily move jobs every two minutes and a lot of IR people are recruited from within the business/finance/communications/ strategy etc.," she says.

This didn't prevent Philip Swatman, the former co-head of investment banking at Rothschild from moving into a new role as chairman of London based-PR firm Merlin last month, but Swatman appears the exception rather than the rule.

Equity research analysts with pre-existing relationships with company boards will find it easiest to move into investor relations according to Reuter. But they will need to modify their pay expectations: even a FTSE 250 company won't pay much more than 100k.

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