Paul Montague-Smith, founder of the Public Affairs Support Service and now senior counsel for public affairs at MRM, talks about the rise of radical politics and what it means for business, why he makes time daily to read Guido Fawkes, and a hobby which involves helicopters and snow.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m 51, married with two grown-up daughters and live in Tunbridge Wells in Kent. I’ve been working in public affairs for nearly three decades now, so I’ve seen a lot of politics and regulation! After many years in agencies I became self-employed last year, setting up The Public Affairs Support Service.
You’ve recently started working with MRM as a senior counsel for public affairs. Why did you decide to work together and what are you looking to achieve?
I first met up with Andy last year and we started talking about our respective ambitions and plans. We got on well and the more we talked the more it became clear it would make sense to work together. MRM has great plans and a great client list, and with my experience it seemed like a good fit and a way of broadening opportunities for us both. My focus has always been to provide clients with high quality public affairs advice and support to help them achieve their commercial objectives, and I’m looking forward to working with the team to do that.
It’s a radical time in politics thanks largely to Brexit. What impact could this have on financial services companies?
How the negotiations with the EU play out over this year will chart the course for our country for decades to come. All the signs are that we’re heading – at best – to a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement, with the financial services sector having to rely on equivalence arrangements – and all the limitations and lack of certainty that goes with them. How that will impact the City in the long-term is unknown, but the government will go out of its way to keep London the global leader, not least because they need a successful sector to pay for the improved public services they’ve promised. Domestically, politics will continue to play a central role in driving the regulatory agenda, which looks set to become even more interventionist.
If you could give one piece of financial advice to a teenage version of yourself, what would it be?
Don’t miss out on free money from your employer – max out your pension contribution.
What three things would you do if you were Prime Minister for the day?
Repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act
Legislate so all income tax and NICs payers can vote, whatever their age
Throw a party at Chequers
What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
Can I have two? Aggressive drivers, and humble-bragging on LinkedIn.
Now, tell us a little about your life outside of work, do you have any hobbies?
I play guitar in a covers band, love skiing and enjoy fixing things – or more accurately trying to.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
GuidoFawkes. Even if you don’t like where they’re coming from politically, it’s essential reading if you’re involved in politics or public affairs.
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
Go deep powder heli-skiing in Canada and invest anything left over.