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"If you are uncomplicated to work with, you are on the right path"

In an interview with Fundplat, former business journalist Peter Manhart reflects on his experience changing sides and starting to work in financial communications. Thanks to this career shift, Communicators gained a valuable partner, co-worker and boss.

Mr. Manhart, you are Managing Partner in one of Switzerland's leading financial communications agencies. What is the focus of your activities?

Financial Communicators’ main clientele for the last 20 years has been mainly asset managers—both from within as well as outside Switzerland. The focus of these mandates is clearly on media relations. For many institutions, it is more efficient to outsource this component of their communications work to specialists like Financial Communicators. We also do conceptual work for our clients and advise them on all communications issues. With many of our clients, I am in contact several times a day, which helps immensely to really understand and meet their needs.

Prior to this job, you were a well-known business journalist. Can you reminisce about that time?

I always felt it was a great privilege to work as a journalist. I don't know of any other job that gives you so much freedom and brings you into contact with so many exciting personalities. Over time, the focus of my work shifted away from purely editorial work, which was also one of the reasons why I switched to communications consulting after about 15 years in journalism.

Have you ever regretted your career shift?

No. On the contrary. Being an entrepreneur has always appealed to me—from classic consulting work, to acquisition, to personnel management—I truly enjoy all aspects it entails.

The websites of many investment companies have recently become much more attractive. In your opinion, does that go hand in hand with their communication?

It’s one thing to design a website, and it's quite another to communicate credibly as a company. The latter requires discipline and consistency over a long period of time. But yes—I do think that the communications work of many companies has changed significantly and improved in most cases.

Where specifically do you see potential for improvement—can you give a few tips?

Not wanting to control everything or not being able to control anything are important lessons in media relations. Journalists are not obliged to do anything, and yet some marketing and communications professionals expect to be able to exert far-reaching influence on coverage. This becomes especially problematic when media relations is presented to clients in this way. If you are uncomplicated to work with and adhere to schedules, if you are okay with the exaggeration of your statements, do without truisms and babble, and do not misinterpret articles as legal documents, you are already on the right path.

In which areas does your agency want to grow further?

Among other things, we find the topic of pension provision to be very exciting. Some industry figures have yet to understand the importance of being present in the public discussion. What is more, there is often still room for improvement in dealing with their own clientele. Personally, I could also imagine working for watchmakers and other fashion and luxury goods manufacturers. However, we are very happy and successful in the niche we work in. Specialization can become a bulk risk; in our case, concentrating on the financial sector has proven successful.

Published on 20. April 2021 by Alina Meletta