FTI Consulting: Agency Business Report 2014

FTI Consulting's strategic communications unit reported a 1% decline in global revenue last year, as well as a 23% drop in pre-tax profits.

Principals: Edward Reilly, global CEO; Elizabeth Saunders, US chairman; Mark McCall, Americas head of strategic communications (pictured)
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global: 97 (not all global offices have a strategic communications practice); US: 10
Revenue: Global: $186.2 million; US: $64 million
Headcount: Global: 656; US: 205

FTI Consulting’s strategic communications unit reported a 1% decline in global revenue last year, as well as a 23% drop in pre-tax profits (EBITDA) largely due to a disappointing performance in Asia-Pacific and larger corporate overhead.

The US, however, was a bright spot. Strength in its core services – particularly public affairs, government affairs, and financial communications – helped with a 5% uptick in revenue. Activity was strongest from clients in healthcare, energy, and financial services.

New clients include Dish Network, World Fuel Services, and Ace Hardware. Its biggest client loss was Coldwell Banker.

"The business environment continues to be a struggle," admits Mark McCall, Americas head of strategic communications for FTI, "but we’ve been successful in adapting and managing through that."

The agency’s acquisition last March of C2 Group – a Washington-based lobby firm – brought an additional $5 million in revenue and has strengthened FTI’s government and public affairs offering.

And, while US headcount is down slightly to 205 from 220 – staff turnover rate was 21% – McCall reports recent hires at the MD level. Among them are Elizabeth Alexander, who counsels clients on legislative, regulatory, and investigative issues in Washington; Barbara Ryan, who supports FTI’s healthcare and life sciences transactions and crisis communications; and Tilden Katz, who is building a global litigation and crisis communications practice out of Chicago. Staff departures included MD Mitzi Emrich, who joined MWW.

Office restructure
FTI has two other practice areas: strategy consulting and research and creative engagement. The firm recently made a change to the latter – which had been based out of its Morristown, NJ, location.

"Rather than have them as a separate group, we have embedded the staff within practices in other key offices [such as New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC] to get them closer to our core businesses," explains McCall. As a result, the Morristown office closed at the start of 2014.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, McCall says the firm expects growth in crisis, transaction, and issues management work, as well as in shareholder activism and employee engagement.

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