City & Corporate: FTI first to comms 'crossroads'

John Waples says other advisory firms will follow FTI's example in evolving.

The financial PR world is 'at a crossroads', according to the London MD of the newly rebranded strategic communications practice of FTI Consulting.

On Monday, the Financial Dynamics brand, or FD as it became known in recent years, was discarded after 25 years at the centre of London's financial comms industry.

FD was bought by US-based advisory business FTI Consulting in 2006 and has now been fully subsumed into the group after the completion of its global rebrand this week.

The scrapping of the FD brand raised eyebrows across the industry when it was announced earlier this year. One former FD source argued that the move 'replaces a strong, successful name with a weaker brand'.

John Waples, leader of the newly named strategic communications practice in the UK, said: 'We are changing our name, but you don't say goodbye to 25 years of heritage and the goodwill attached to that.

'Standing still in any business is never a good thing to do. You have got to evolve and change, and we want people to know that we are part of FTI and what FTI can bring to the party.'

FTI worked on the investigation into the accounts of Bernie Madoff and was the bankruptcy expert on Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers and General Motors.

Waples said this type of work offered huge opport- unities for an integrated comms arm.

'Communications is a maturing industry that's now at a crossroads,' he argued. 'Everyone is trying to evolve and FTI is first out of the traps to offer communications as an extension of its corporate advisory services.

'If this goes well, which we believe it will, it will not be long before other global companies follow suit.'

The agency has seen some senior figures leave in recent times, including senior MDs Andrew Dowler, Giles Sanderson and CEO Charles Watson stepping back to become chairman.

A number of departures are thought to be related to the end of the earn-out period from the FTI acquisition, but there are also understood to be some reservations about the 'Americanisation' of the brand and FTI's 'one-size-fitsall' approach.

Waples dismissed this notion: 'FTI and CEO Jack Dunn have been very careful to ensure that our local offices are able to remain local.'

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