Holmes Report 01 Dec 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
Walek & Associates differentiates itself via an uncommon depth and breadth of expertise in the financial services sector and a simple three-word mantra: knowledge, service, results. Its knowledge spans the capital markets; the asset management, hedge fund, professional and financial services, information and financial technology sectors; and the US and international markets (the firm has an office in Hong Kong in addition to its New York headquarters). Its commitment to service is reflected in a structure that aligns to fit client needs, with an emphasis on principal-led relationships. And its focus on results means that communications efforts are designed to meet predetermined business objectives.
“Walek & Associates’ knowledgeable team of professionals has demonstrated an ability to provide consistent, high-level consultation and execution that has been instrumental in our firm’s growth and development,” says Michelle Russell Johnson, principal and director of marketing at JANA Partners. “Walek’s senior-led team of associates has impressed us with their strong knowledge of the financial markets sector, our business, and the media. We firmly believe it is this that separates Walek from other public relation firms. Walek has proven to us time and time again their long-term commitment to our working relationship.”
Walek & Associates was founded in 1998, but its principals have a track record in the sector that dates back considerably longer. Founder and president Thomas Walek began his career as a journalist covering the birth of the financial derivatives market from the floors of Chicago Mercantile Exchange and chaired the Alternative Asset Management Association sub-committee that produced guidelines for hedge fund media relations. Global capital practice group leader Armel Leslie joined the firm in 1999 and has led communications efforts to JPMorgan Asset Management, Man Group, Paulson & Co. and Roubini Global Economics, among others. Investor relations and corporate transactions practice leader Mary Beth Kissane is an attorney with expertise in activism, litigation, M&A, IPOs, regulatory enforcement actions and restructurings.
The past 12 months saw two significant additions to the team. John Ford joined Walek from Blackstone, where he was a senior vice president in the corporate communications and public relations group, while Morrison Shafroth previously directed corporate public relations at Charles Schwab. The firm also expanded its service offering, launching a new book projects and promotion division, working with publishers of financial and investment titles, and expanding its social media capabilities.
Those initiatives contributed to an impressive 23 percent growth in fee income, with new clients such as Diamante Property Management, GATE Technologies, JANA Partners, Pulse Capital Partners, SPARX, Suffolk Bancorp, Venor Capital Management and Vishay Intertechnologies joining a roster that includes Clarium Capital Management, CLSA, Dow Jones, Everest Capital, GFI Group, Gravitas, Highland Capital Management, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Lawyers Without Borders, Legal & General, Paulson & Co., and QS Investors.
Among the firm’s more interesting assignments, it worked on the 115th anniversary of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a headline-making SEC investigation naming a global hedge fund manager, an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency enforcement on a large regional bank, the launch of an entirely new secondary market trading system, design and execution of a social and online media campaign to reposition an international property management company, the rebranding of Asia’s largest hedge fund company, and litigation PR strategy for a closely held asset manager. The new book division, meanwhile, worked on titles such as Aftershock by Robert and David Wiedemer, The Little Book of Economics by Greg Ip, The Elements of Investing by Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis, The Power of Passive Investing by Rick Ferri and The Day After the Dollar Crashes by Damon Vickers.
Walek & Associates describes itself as a “global boutique” and has international capabilities through a full service Hong Kong office headed by vice president Sophie Sophaon and strategic partnerships in London, Australia and Korea.