City PR faces shake-up as comms consultancy Stockwell Group launches

Four top financial comms professionals are looking to shake up the City PR industry by launching a consultancy this week.

City sights: Stockwell Group established
City sights: Stockwell Group established

It will be the most significant new financial PR agency for almost a decade and threatens to take on the likes of Maitland and Tulchan.

The new comms shop Stockwell Group will be run by City PR heavyweights Philip Gawith, Tim Burt and Nick Boakes.

Gawith was chief executive of financial agency Maitland until six weeks ago, while Burt is a partner at rival City firm Brunswick and Boakes is former comms director at Friends Provident.

Also on board is Julian Hanson-Smith, co-founder of Financial Dynamics and a partner at private equity firm Iceni Capital, which will provide funding for the new venture. Hanson-Smith will chair the Stockwell board, working alongside its three managing partners. Stockwell is the most significant launch in the market since former FD pair Nick Miles and Hugh Morrison formed M:Communications in 2002.

Hanson-Smith told PRWeek: 'There has been a real lack of mobility among senior people as result of the ownership structures and earn-out periods that have tied people in. In the past few months, these have fallen away and talented people are now realising their current agencies cannot satisfy their aspirations.'

The new agency plans to recruit those who have fallen victim to the glass ceiling created by stability at the top of big City agencies and is likely to attract talent by offering equity stakes.

Gawith, Burt and Boakes will be equal shareholders, with Iceni holding a 'significant' minority stake in the new venture.

Hanson-Smith and Boakes will start work immediately, with Gawith and Burt joining when free from notice and legal restrictions.


Key players

Tim Burt Partner at Brunswick for five years, having worked for 16 years at the FT

Philip Gawith Former CEO of Maitland, where he worked for 12 years. Also spent eight years at the FT

Nick Boakes Ex-director of comms at Friends Provident. Was also CEO of financial comms agency Grandfield

Julian Hanson-Smith Co-founded Financial Dynamics in 1986 before its sale in 1999.

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