City & Corporate: Coops exits from WS financial division

The boss of Weber Shandwick's financial practice has left the firm after less than a year at the helm, it has emerged.

Thomas Coops joined WS in May 2010 as head of financial services and capital markets business after a long career in in-house corporate comms.

WS confirmed to PRWeek that Coops has left the agency and that Nick Oborne and Juliet Carey have taken dual responsibility for the agency's financial comms practice.

A statement from WS said Coops left the firm 'following a strategic review of the business and the company's ambition to be the strongest financial services brand within a multi-specialist network'.

Industry sources noted WS, whose current clients include Abbey PLC, Big Yellow Group and Clinton Cards, has struggled to rebuild its financial practice into the strong presence it boasted under the Shandwick Consultants and later Weber Shandwick Square Mile brands.

A number of multidisciplinary agencies have moved away from pure financial comms work in recent years, with both Hill & Knowlton and Edelman merging their financial PR businesses with corporate comms functions.

One source speculated that the hire of heavyweight corporate comms operator Jim Donaldson from H&K indicated that WS was likely to follow its contemporaries by merging the financial and corporate functions. Donaldson joined this month as executive vice-president corporate comms, EMEA.

However, it is thought that at this point WS remains committed to keeping its 25-strong financial practice as a separate division.

The WS job was Coops' first venture into agency life, having joined from Royal & Sun Alliance where he was director of external comms. He joined RSA from a one-year stint at BA as interim director of corporate and before that had a near 20-year career at Abbey National.

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