MICHAEL FARRANT

PROJECT ASSOCIATES

City
London
Category
Reputation Management Lawyers
Company Size
UK
Phone number
020 7321 0773
Email address
michael.farrant@projectassociatesltd.com

Michael Farrant, head of private client and corporate at Project Associates, is a man with big ambitions for where strategic communications should sit within a private office or corporate advisory team. He believes it ‘should be buried directly in the heart of the family office structure’, forming a part of the debate on the direction of the office, alongside legal, financial, and other services. ‘If you tailor your message correctly and get them out to the right places — view communications holistically — you’re going to see a much better result,’ he says. Farrant believes there are ‘two central tenants’ driving strategic communications in the digital age. First, he doesn’t believe it’s possible to stay hidden any more. His response is that if you selectively release the right information, then ‘even if your worst enemy sees the information they can’t use it, as no one thinks you’re hiding’. This hiding-inplain- sight strategy is a big change from traditional attempts to block all information from seeing the light of day, but can produce much better outcomes. At Project Associates, their strategy is simple, Farrant explains: ‘If you start to put out legitimate, thoughtful information into the public domain… then first of all you’re not hiding. Second, the new story marries to the information already out there. Third, it means [any] negative information doesn’t dominate the client’s public profile.’ Working with such sensitive information, Farrant is careful to ensure that he is aware of changing legal requirements. He says that ‘the biggest change this year is the dawn of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS),’ a mechanism by which governments automatically share certain financial and tax information. He’s seen ‘a greater push for transparency and due diligence’ about clients, as politicians and the media ‘from the left and the right’ rabidly try to find ways ‘to claw back money or develop stories.’ Farrant has noticed that it is the public appetite for this information which has driven these changes, as the stories which used to get headlines – ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ – are being replaced by front page news about tax structuring, philanthropy, and source of wealth. These effects are exacerbated by social media, which have caused rapid increases in the speed with which information spreads. When his clients have to deal with toughening environments, Farrant’s philosophy is simple: ‘plan for the best, but prepare for the worst.’

 

 

Michael Farrant