Sam Prince-Mernick, a consultant at MRM, shares her insights on technology’s role in client services, her proudest projects, and her passion for protecting people from financial fraud.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for MRM?
I’ve worked in financial services (FS) for about 15 years now. I started out in contact centres and eventually moved into Operations, but it was when I became a Personal Assistant for investment platform Cofunds’ Sales and Marketing department that my eyes were opened to the world of PR. My first PR role was in-house at SIPP and platform provider, James Hay, where I started building relationships with trade journalists. After 8 years there, I fancied a new challenge and joined the Financial Conduct Authority’s press office. I worked on projects which included crypto, ScamSmart and access to cash. From this, I got more exposure working with national titles, as well as insight into how the regulator tackles new financial products impacting the market and customers, in this instance crypto. It also gave me a whole new perspective of the FS world that I had worked in for so long – you really get to see the good, the bad, and the downright ugly! I made my move to MRM, my first agency role, to work as a Consultant earlier this year. At MRM I support a broad range of clients, across the investment management, platform, and crypto sectors. I provide counsel on strategic comms planning and crisis management, I write and review external comms and I liaise with the media – trade, national, and broadcast.
What do you most enjoy most about financial PR?
I love that I still learn something new every day. The sector is so broad and is always evolving (with new products and processes) that you can never know it all.
What issues do you think are most important for the personal finance media and/or your clients at the moment?
I think the future of technology and how it can be harnessed to deliver a better service to clients, as well as making internal processes slicker, is very important to clients right now. Evolving technology has always been a focus, but the increased interest in AI and the impact it can have on businesses has definitely intensified this.
What do you think has been the biggest influence on your career?
I think it’s more of a who! After working in various admin roles – on the phones, processing docs, PA duties – I met my (continued) colleague, mentor and friend, Hilary Morison, who put the time and effort into helping me learn about the world of PR and has provided ongoing counsel on how I can continue to develop and grow in this role.
Is there a particular project or campaign that you’ve been a part of that you’re most proud of?
Working on M&A activities that totalled £220m definitely stands out in my mind. Being in the weeds of these types of deals, understanding the process and all the steps, seeing the back and forth between multiple parties, and then being able to communicate such significant and impactful news is very rewarding. It was really quite exciting.
What is the one column or website you read every day?
As I kicked off my PR career on the adviser, B2B side, I was always checking and reading certain financial trade publications, and this has continued to be part of my daily routine! I’ll always visit the Money Marketing, FTAdviser, Professional Adviser, and New Model Adviser websites.
What one tool/gadget/app do you find essential for working?
I think the communication apps – Slack, WhatsApp – are essential for me. As we’re comms people I think communications tools will, and probably should, excite us! I have clients that like to communicate via WhatsApp which I find super helpful as it’s a quick and easy way to check in or get a response/sign off, as most people already use it day-to-day in their non-working life, so they naturally react to it and respond quicker.
If you could give a younger version of yourself one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
Don’t get multiple credit cards! Many years ago, it was too easy to get a chunky bit of credit, and we were also encouraged to use it to build up a good credit rating for future lending (such as a mortgage). Being so young, and not on a very big salary, it was a stupid trap to fall into, but also not very responsible of the lenders back then. With lessons learnt and stricter regulation it seems the tides are now turning, and lenders are more conscientious, which is good for future generations.
What would you do first if you received a windfall of £10,000?
I would pay off any debt I have and pop the rest in an ISA.
What one thing would you do if you were Chancellor for the day?
I would legislate for stronger protection against financial fraud, to better protect people, especially vulnerable people, from falling foul of money scams. I don’t know exactly what this would look like, but I feel a stronger, wider, multi-pronged attack is needed, such as making banks and tech companies do even more to stop scams, better education for people (starting in schools), and stronger punishment for scammers etc.