Boakes joins Friends Provident after a five-month career break. He replaces former head of corporate communications Brian Wilkinson, who retired earlier this month.
Friends Provident boosted the role to director of group communications after his departure, reflecting the increased importance it places on PR and investor relations.
The communications role now reports directly to CEO Keith Satchell.
‘Given that we’re a FTSE 100 firm, it’s best practice to have a direct reporting line to the CEO,’ said Boakes.
He heads both external and internal communications for the 5,000-strong group, managing a team of at least a dozen.
The communications function is divided into three separately managed areas: CSR, under Ashley Taylor; corporate publications and comms headed by Andy Diggins, and corporate media and analyst comms led by Di Skidmore.
Boakes has no plans for an immediate review of the in-house structure, or of three-year incumbent agency Bell Pottinger Financial.