London-based PR firm Peregrine Communications is one of Europe’s most successful specialist financial PR agencies. Established in 2003 by CEO Anthony Payne (pictured), Peregrine has built an award-winning reputation based on proven results and first-class client service.
This year sees the firm celebrating its 10th year anniversary. Over the course of that time, Payne has pursued a singular path: to develop a fully integrated communications agency. That might sound easy, but assembling a team with the right skills and talent is anything but.
Last year, the firm strengthened its team further with the hiring of Alan Pitchforth as Head of Design. Pitchforth has 20 years’ experience working with financial services brands, confirms Payne. This followed the hiring, in the previous year, of Ermanno Mattio as Head of Research.
“With both Alan and Ermanno on the team we now have content plus visuals, which is a powerful proposition. When it comes to messaging, you need to have good technical people like Ermanno. But you also need people to understand that messaging and express it in a visual way.”
Peregrine’s team structure is much like that of an advertising agency. This ad agency approach is becoming more important as hedge fund firms slowly start to realise that moving away from generic messages and mundane cityscape websites, which reveal none of a firm’s human personalities, is necessary.
“We think there are two aspects to consider: Firstly, hedge fund managers have to come up with a unique message that differentiates themselves.
“Secondly, when you look at generic hedge fund websites not only is the message not differentiated, but there’s no pull or personality at all. The visual element needs to be very strong, and the personality of the hedge fund needs to be communicated,” explains Payne. Last year, the firm won two prestigious clients: Skybridge, the fund-of-funds behemoth, and Cantab Capital Partners, a systematic global macro hedge fund.
That focus on drawing out the human side of the firm was applied recently to Cantab Capital. One of the firm’s objectives is to hire the best talent out of Cambridge University.
Payne explains: “When we interviewed Cantab Capital we asked them to tell us stories about themselves to find out what they’re like. We came across a story about how they use algorithms to order lunch.
“That really expresses the personality of Cantab, the quirkiness and technology of the firm. So we developed a job advertisement for the firm using a picture of sushi with the algorithm they use alongside it. There was no need for a headline. The audience for the ad was self-selecting, in that those who understood and could decipher the algorithm were those it was meant to appeal to.”
Getting portfolio managers to say something unique is of course a challenge. Consequently, coaching clients has also become important for Peregrine.
“It’s all well and good having a strong message but if the portfolio manager can’t express that message then you’ll fall at the first hurdle. You have to find something genuinely original to say. We really push them to come up with their edge. And then we say, ‘now that you’ve thought about that, you need to connect your personality, your DNA, to this message’.
“People want to hear how a manager personally applies the investment strategy.”
On winning the award, Payne has his own message: “To win the prestigious Hedgeweek Best European Public Relations Firm award three years in a row is a fantastic result for us, and given the voters are the investment community we are very pleased that they recognise the value that we add to our clients.”