Chairman’s report – 2012 AGM CIPR Corporate and Financial Group

26 June 2012

It has been another tremendous year for the group which was the proud winner of the 2011/2012 CIPR sector group of the year award.


Membership has continued to increase again this year. It has doubled over the last five years and today is over the 600 mark. I am delighted that the group’s activities help to attract many new members to the CIPR and also help the Institute to retain existing members for whom contact with the group is often the main interaction with their industry body.


That’s not surprising as we have what is one of the best programmes around. The lunchtime meeting series forms the core of the group’s activities. Shona Prendergast has masterminded this year’s programme with help from Kay Larsen and Victoria Tate.


Highlights included Head of Sky News’ business unit, Dafydd Rees, explaining how Sky’s business coverage had been ratcheted up recently; the Financial Times’ columnist, Mrs Moneypenny, who mentioned sex more times than any of our other speakers put together, but it was the sugar coating for important messages about career progression; also from the FT, Alphaville editor Paul Murphy explained how he had helped to bring in enews and comment to transform the paper’s offering; the new Business Editor of ITV News, Laura Kuenssberg, charmed us with her approachability; and, at a fascinating Olympic forum, panellists from Visa and Deloitte looked at how corporate and financial organisations were benefiting from their association with the London Games.


And the autumn programme promises to be equally strong.


We continued to offer free places at our lunchtime meetings for members between jobs.


We have also continued producing meeting reports for the website which, particularly in the case of speakers from the media, provide valuable guidance for PRs.


The other two regular events in the calendar are the summer party and the annual dinner. Last year’s party, and the annual dinner, with Peter Barron, head of communications at Google as the speaker, both attracted a very good turnout in terms of overall numbers and senior representatives from our industry.


Anne Gilding arranged another visit this year: to the BBC, where the group was incredibly fortunate to hear from Huw Edwards and Hugh Pym and to learn how to present the weather (although unlike Prince Charles, they didn’t actually record a bulletin).  


Jo Shears launched a new series of Tomorrow’s Talent when newer members of the industry were able to ask all the questions of seasoned professionals that they don’t normally have the time for in the rush of their working days. The second in this series will take place on 10 July.


We have continued to build our best practice guide series on the website and have updated our members on the developments in financial regulation. We have also launched a new social media series with some excellent case studies on their use in the corporate and financial sector thanks to Jill Pearcy, Charlotte Sansom and Steve Smith. On 21 September we are holding a social media forum to discuss these issues.


Thanks to Simon Thompson, the introduction of e-booking and e-payment has been a tremendous success and, as treasurer, Simon has kept our finances in very good shape, for which we are very grateful.


Annette Spencer and Charlotte Sansom have produced a leaflet to promote the group to members, potential members and speakers.


Our reconstituted advisory board, with industry leaders including Lord Bell and Angus Maitland, met with the committee in January and we raised the issue of how we as an industry could do more to help the companies we work for to demonstrate the value of their work in the face of a barrage of criticism in this difficult climate. As a result we are planning to hold a forum in the autumn to reinforce the link between what the financial services industry does and the real economy.


The committee has no shortage of ideas but I remain acutely conscious of the need to “walk the talk” rather than to be all talk and no action. All members of the committee have more than fulltime jobs and those jobs keep them much busier these days than in the past. To help make the best use of their time, “committee associates” work with us on several projects. People find that it is useful to mention this work on their CVs (especially if they are between jobs).


We are extremely fortunate to have a very strong committee and I am most grateful to all of you as well as the committee associates for their hard work. And, as ever, we are extremely grateful to our administrator Sue Owen, without whom we would not be making this report.


It has been a tremendous privilege to be chairman of this group for the last three years. I am pleased to be continuing my association with it as deputy chairman. But even more, I am delighted that my successor is so well suited to the position. I have known Annette Spencer for the last decade. She is a very experienced communications professional having been head of public relations at first direct, run the communications function at RSA and is now global head of media relations at law firm Salans. As well as being a great ambassador for the industry, she is articulate, witty and good fun. With Annette at the helm and a great committee, the group is in good hands.





Caroline Cecil, 26 June 2012


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