More than one in three FTSE comms chiefs see budgets fall in 2016

More than one third of FTSE100 corporate comms or corporate affairs directors have seen a cut in their budgets in 2016, suggesting a likely reduction in the amount spent on consultancies, new research suggests.

Industry headhunters Watson Helsby interviewed 90 per cent of the corporate comms or corporate affairs directors employed by FTSE100 firms. They found 37 per cent of the sample had experienced a reduction in their budgets for 2016.

Only 13 per cent reported an increase in expenditure for the year, and 50 per cent said budgets would be the same as in 2015.

According to the research, the proportion of FTSE100 firms that have a corporate comms or corporate affairs director has risen from 77 to 80 per cent. They are increasingly given a more senior status within companies, and are marginally more likely to be female, the survey suggests.

The remaining 20 per cent were typically b2b companies in fields such as engineering or manufacturing that have a reasonably low profile. The report says they typically operate in markets with low political, regulatory and media scrutiny, and where the leadership does not seek a public profile or actively wants to avoid it.

Two statistics in particular point to corporate comms or corporate affairs directors becoming gradually more senior within their companies.

Firstly, the survey found 76 per cent reported to their CEOs, up from 75 per cent the previous year. Just three per cent reported to the marketing department, the latest survey shows, behind both finance and corporate services/HR (both at five per cent).

Secondly, 47 per cent were formal members of their firm’s executive committee, against 43 per cent in 2014.

The survey found 47 per cent of the FTSE100 corporate comms or corporate affairs chiefs were female, up from 44 per cent last year. "Whether this increase in female representation is a trend remains to be seen," the report says. "Next year will provide a clearer picture."

Overall, 70 per cent of the professionals surveyed had a background in comms, and 10 per cent had a public affairs or government background.

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