We catch up with Sophie Mayall, one of the directors at MRM on her work growing the business’s institutional offering, effecting real change through PR and the importance of financial education.
Tell us about yourself
I’m one of the directors at MRM and originally joined the agency around five years ago.
Since joining I’ve worked to help build up our presence in the institutional pensions and investment space and currently head our offering to that client base, where we work with a number of fantastic businesses.
Across my role I also lead accounts across our savings and investments, insurance and financial advice client base, as well as heading up our social and charity committees.
Why did you join MRM?
I joined MRM from an agency focusing on institutional asset management. Having built up specialism in that area I liked the idea of working with a broader scope of clients and the audiences that they’re trying to reach.
In the last few years since joining we’ve brought on 16 new clients either operating solely or partly within the institutional pensions space. These clients range from institutional asset managers, investment consultants, employee benefits and actuarial consultants, through to technology providers – complementing the names and experience we already had within the agency when I joined.
In order to support this growth, we’ve also taken on more specialist staff, last year recruiting Helena Jones, a senior consultant with a dedicated background in the pensions industry, to further develop our presence in this space. I now believe we have the specialist skills, technical knowledge and understanding, and client base to rival that of any specialist agencies in that sector.
MRM also had a fantastic reputation with journalists. Five years later and we’ve only grown that scope further and I feel lucky enough to have worked with clients who range all the way from deep consumer through to those on the highly corporate side of things.
On the investment side, we are increasingly seeing a blurring of the lines between retail and institutional offerings, and there is a real opportunity for providers to bring institutional quality products into the consumer space. We’re seeing a response to this across our client base whether that be through distribution, marketing materials, content or actual product design.
Where did your interest in financial services come from?
My mum worked in financial services on the investment side, and growing up what she did always interested and inspired me.
My politics degree – while not moving me to pursue a political career – did cement an interest in communications, so financial services PR feels like the perfect balance of the two.
Having worked in this sector for almost 10 years, I love the real-world impact of financial advice all the way through to the nitty gritty of the investment side of things.
I completed my IMC certificate a few years ago and definitely plan on taking some further exams soon. I also love maths so I’ve toyed with the idea of attempting the CFA! We’ll see!
What area of PR gives you the most satisfaction?
I love that the work we do with our clients has the capacity to effect real change and that it combines a number of different disciplines – whether that’s communication, writing, technical knowledge or just plain organisation.
I really enjoy that this is a job where each day can look completely different to the last and, as a perhaps unhealthily competitive person, I love the buzz you get from doing a good job, whether that’s landing a great story, handling a difficult situation or giving the right advice at the right time.
Being able to work on different areas of financial services is really rewarding too. We’ve got a range of clients from AXA IM and RWC Partners on the asset management side through to financial adviser Foster Denovo, investment platform Willis Owen and Scottish Friendly and eToro on the consumer side.
But beyond that we’re a multi-disciplinary agency. I love working with our News and Content team headed up by former journalist Nick Paler, who not only support PR but also provide content solutions to our bank of clients.
I’ve also had the privilege of getting close to and learning from Capital City Media, media intelligence, planning and buying agency which is also part of the MRM Group. Working together with them we’re able to produce holistic communications and marketing campaigns and the insights they provide are invaluable to our understanding of the media landscape beyond journalists’ desks.
Has lockdown changed how you work?
Definitely. This year has been a massive learning curve for us all – one of the things I love about this job and working in an agency like MRM is the fact that all the work we do is as a team.
I’m used to calling over the desk at someone for their opinion and collaborating with my colleagues on the smallest things through to the big ones. We’ve had to learn how to move that collaboration online.
I’ve also had to learn how to get through the day without access to Paler’s snack draw and his supply of Sour Patch Kids.
What piece of financial advice would you give your younger self?
Listen and learn. The information is out there but unfortunately, it’s information that most young people have to go and find for themselves.
Until that changes and financial education becomes a formal part of the curriculum, I’d urge all young people to go and learn as much as they can about personal finance and advice.
I’d also tell my 20-year-old self to start saving into a pension as soon as you can, mine some bitcoin (and write down your password) and buy some Netflix shares.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
My go to would definitely be the FT and BBC.
Do you have any hobbies?
Watching Spurs, crying over Spurs. Walking our puppy, Pippin. Snowboarding. Playing all or any games or anything with a competitive element… I also love Netball and can’t wait to start playing again.
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
Travel. This year has definitely made me restless for when we can travel again, Canada is first on the list! I’d also definitely invest part of it and probably spend the rest on overly expensive gym leggings.