City consultancy hit by loss of senior operators

FD managing directors quit to set up agency after spate of financial start-ups.

Three financial PR heavyweights have quit one of the City's top agencies to launch their own consultancy.

Charlie Armitstead, Greg Quine and Ben Foster are managing directors at FD, where all three have worked for over a decade.

It is understood that an email announcing their resignations was sent internally on Tuesday. The trio are understood to still be at the agency, although it is considered unlikely they will serve their full six-month notice periods.

FD's UK CEO John Waples confirmed the resignations, saying: 'They have been good and loyal servants for the firm and we wish them well in the future.'

The move follows two other recent start-ups from senior UK financial comms specialists. Last month Andrew Honnor left Tulchan Communications to set up his own operation, while City PR heavyweights Philip Gawith, Tim Burt and Nick Boakes set up Stockwell Group in December.

The start-ups are thought to be motivated by the lack of opportunity to own significant equity slices of existing City players.

The three FD resignations are also understood to be related to the end of FD's earn-out period after it was bought by FTI Consulting in 2006, which has freed a number of long-serving FD consultants to move on.

Another key motivation for the departures is understood to be FD's evolution from a financial comms specialist into an international strategic consultancy. One industry source claimed: 'FD is no longer the most dynamic place to be if you want to be purely focused on financial PR.'

Commenting on the latest development, an insider said: 'All three area good operators but they're coming out into an increasingly tough marketplace, especially if they're not able to take clients with them.'

KEY PLAYERS

Charles Armitstead, MD - Joined FD in 1999 and worked on clients including Heineken International and Virgin Active

Greg Quine, MD - Joined FD in 2000 from JP Morgan to head up the Financial Intelligence Units.

Benjamin Foster, MD - Joined FD in April 2000 from Citigate Dewe Rogerson, where he worked on UK M&A, flotation and privatisation.

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