Tell us a bit about yourself
My career in media began as a reporter at Heathrow Airport. There’s a photo on the web of Prince being escorted through Terminal 3 the day after the Brits in 1985 with a blanket over his head. You can just about make me out standing behind him in a fetching anorak.
Like a lot of journos back then I made the leap to PR for financial reasons, but I’ve never looked back.
Why did you decide to re-join MRM?
I missed the pace and the variety of MRM, as well as the buzz of London – I was based in the sticks with my last role and you couldn’t get a flat white for love nor money.
I also missed Nick Paler’s investment tips. One day I might actually follow up on one of them.
What are the big developments for social and digital in the year ahead?
Dark social, the use of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, is just going to get even bigger. Recent research suggests nearly two-thirds of people prefer to use dark social to share content and recommendations, so FS companies need to work out how they tap into that.
On top of that, what with the proliferation of channels and the explosion of content, brands need to be smarter about the stuff they create and how they target people. Podcasts have become huge again and surprisingly influencers are having an impact in the B2B and B2C space, so it’s not all about beauty bloggers.
At MRM we are doing some really interesting work around using digital data to understand consumers and the topics they’re interested in. Traditional audience segmentation is becoming very fragmented, so this could be gold dust. More to come!
If you could give one piece of financial advice to a teenage version of yourself, what would it be?
Buy a load of Bitcoins and sell them off last summer. And don’t take out that Midland credit card just for the free wine – you don’t drink wine yet and you can’t be trusted to budget properly.
Other than that, I think I’d tell myself to chill out and perhaps spend more and enjoy myself a bit. I probably spent too much of my cash on Smiths records.
What three things would you do if you were head of the FCA?
- Disband the FCA and replace it with industry self-regulation
- Set up a people’s council to provide oversight, publishing customer feedback and ratings on a monthly basis to name and shame firms that perform badly. The cream will rise to the top
- Introduce tougher laws to fine and ban firms, including their senior managers, that cause customer detriment, either maliciously or negligently
What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
Disloyalty and untrustworthiness – back-biting and whisper campaigns. It’s bad in all parts of life, but it is particularly unpleasant in the workplace. It’s only acceptable on Love Island.
I’m currently addicted to Love Island, so watching that makes me feel weak and a little bit dirty.
Now, tell us a little about your life outside of work, do you have any hobbies?
I love to travel. So far this year I’ve been to Petra in Jordan and did the whole Indiana Jones thing, which was epic. For me travel offers the best mix of freedom and challenge; see some amazing places and meet interesting people, but you still need to work out how to navigate around an unfamiliar country and buy lunch.
When I did this last time, I think I also said I was writing a book. I still haven’t started.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
All the usual ones, BBC and Mail online, but I’m also addicted to Twitter, so I always check out Cold War Steve (@Coldwar_steve), an artist with a twisted take on the state we’re in, as well as Paul Bronks who tweets as @SlenderSherbet – his stuff isn’t clever, but it makes me laugh out loud, and that’s all you can ask for these days.
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
Buy a vintage jukebox so I could play my singles. I’ve got about 400 of them. Though, to be honest, a classic 50’s Wurlitzer is around twenty grand, so I’d better start writing my book.