RLM Finsbury: Agency Business Report 2013

Last year RLM Finsbury marked the one-year anniversary since it was formed by the merger between WPP agencies Finsbury Group and Robinson Lerer & Montgomery (RLM).

Principals: Roland Rudd, chairman; Walter Montgomery, (pictured) CEO; Michael Gross, president
Ownership: WPP
Offices: Global: 8; US: 3 (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC)
Revenue: Global: $65 million to $100 million
Headcount: Global: 195; US: 97

Last year RLM Finsbury marked the one-year anniversary since it was formed by the merger between WPP agencies Finsbury Group and Robinson Lerer & Montgomery (RLM). The fusion was a natural fit because both companies specialized in corporate issues and functioned at the C-suite level, often counseling senior management teams, says CEO Walter Montgomery.

“That gave us the same basic culture from which to work,” he explains. “I initiated the merger because it was important to have an integrated global platform.”

The combined firm works with many global companies in industries including financial services, biotechnology, media, and healthcare, Montgomery adds. Its practice areas are financial and investor communications, crisis and issues management, corporate affairs, public policy and regulatory affairs, and reputation and brand management. “We continue to do a lot of issues- and crisis-oriented work,” he notes, “but that sometimes obscures other things we do, such as reputation-building programs that have a strong proactive element.”

RLM Finsbury would not disclose revenues, but Montgomery says 2012 was “essentially flat” compared with the previous year. The bulk of its work came from the US and Europe, with growing businesses in Hong Kong and the Middle East, he adds.

The agency's public affairs operation in Washington, DC, has become an important area of focus, explains Montgomery. 

Significant hires
In September, former New York Times journalist Stephen Labaton was hired as a partner to help grow the offering.

RLM Finsbury also hired Charles Nathan in September as a partner focusing on mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. According to Mergermarket, the firm advised on 88 deals worth $65.7 billion last year, including mining giant Glencore's proposed merger with Xstrata.

Starbucks brought on the agency in the UK to provide counsel on the coffee chain's tax avoidance issues and New York Wheel tapped the firm to handle PR for the building of the world's tallest Ferris wheel.

Going forward, the agency wants to put more emphasis on science and technology communications. “There is an increasing need for people to communicate about science and technology,” Montgomery says. “Those will drive the major issues.”

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