Talking Heads: Peter Finn, FINN Partners' CEO and Founding Managing Partner

Talking Heads: Peter Finn, FINN Partners' CEO and Founding Managing Partner

Talking Heads is a new Telum Media series that spotlights company leaders and delves into their thoughts on business, leadership and communications.

In this edition, we speak to Peter Finn, CEO and Founding Managing Partner at FINN Partners.

You have acquired over 30 businesses since founding FINN Partners in 2011. What are your main considerations when it comes to expansion ventures?
Beyond adding new clients and expanding existing relationships, acquisitions have played a key role in our growth strategy. FINN acquires agencies to strengthen our practices, to build market share where we have offices, and expand our footprint into new markets. From major regional players to niche boutique agencies with speciality services, FINN has been a haven for successful entrepreneurial companies who share our values and are looking to tap into the resources and scale of a leading global independent agency.

Many agencies reach out to me to express their interest in being part of us. Overall, I receive at least 100 enquiries a year from agencies or their advisors who ask about the possibility of joining FINN Partners. The key criteria I use in evaluating each opportunity are as follows:
  1. Does the agency have deep expertise in a sector that will enhance one of our existing practices, or enable us to add a new practice that is strategically important?
  2. Will an acquisition of the agency help us build market share in an existing market where we have a presence, or will it extend our reach into a new market that is strategically important?
  3. Is the client list impressive, and would I be eager to add the agency’s clients to our client list?
  4. Does the firm have a strong positive reputation, and do they have any publicly stated values that are a match for the FINN Partners values?
  5. Will the personality of the agency’s leadership team fit well within FINN Partners?
  6. Is the firm’s management team looking to stay with us long-term to help us build FINN Partners?
  7. Are the economics of a deal likely to work within our deal structure? If the answer to all the questions above is yes, then we have a fit, and I pursue the opportunity. The result is that out of the 100+ inquiries I receive each year, we pursue a handful of these.
What are your areas of focus across Asia Pacific for 2023 and how do you plan on developing operations in the region over the next few years?
When I founded FINN Partners 11 years ago, my vision was to build a world-class agency with a heart and conscience that any major client around the world would be proud to have as a partner. Over the past decade, we’ve become one of the fastest-growing independent agencies in the world and a truly global player.

Asia has played a key role in our expansion. We now have about 170 people in Asia Pacific and my expectation is that we will double or even triple the size of our operations in the region over the next three to five years. We are already a regional powerhouse with specialised expertise and a unique collaborative model that enables us to serve global clients with complex needs in health, B2B, technology, manufacturing, travel and tourism, consumer lifestyle and wellness. We help many Asia-based clients expand into the US and Europe, and vice-versa, so we’re experts in helping navigate the complexities and market dynamics associated with global growth.

We will continue to bolster these practice areas, while also deploying our fastest growing practice areas - purpose and social impact as well as in internal communications and employee engagement - to meet the strong market demand for these services, which cut across the industry sectors we serve.

Each acquisition takes about one year from the initial conversation to closing on a deal. I recently spent three weeks in Asia Pacific and had many meetings that may lead to future acquisitions. I would not expect those to close until late this year or sometime in the first half of 2024.

How do you see the communications industry in Asia developing over the next few years? What are you most excited about?
Over the next few years, the communications industry is expected to see significant growth and innovation, driven by new technologies and shifting consumer behaviour. Amongst the most exciting developments is the growing significance of digital channels, transforming how businesses interact with their target audience.

Another trend shaping the future of the communications industry in Asia is the rise of data analytics and insights. With more data available than ever before, businesses are using advanced analytics tools to understand consumer behaviour and make informed decisions about their communication strategies. This trend drives demand for marketing agencies that can provide strategic insights and data-driven solutions to help clients achieve their goals. In addition, I am thrilled about the increasing emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility in the communications industry in Asia. Companies are becoming more aware of the need to integrate sustainability into their operations and messaging, and marketing agencies will play a crucial role in assisting them to convey this message effectively to their stakeholders.

How would you describe your leadership style? What do you feel are the best traits of a great business leader?
We have a set of core values that we announced at the launch of FINN Partners, and I try to live by these every day, with the hope that they define my leadership style. These values are:
  • Work Hard and Play Nice
  • Create a Best Place to Work Environment
  • Take Risks
  • Amaze
  • Make a Difference in the World
  • Collaborate
  • Commit to Diversity
We also say that we want FINN Partners to be an agency with a heart and a conscience.

I think the best traits of a great business leader are to listen, work hard and play nice, and have deep expertise in their business sector.

What’s one piece of advice you would offer someone who is exploring a career in marketing and communications?
As a leading integrated marketing agency, FINN Partners has seen the industry evolve and transform over the years. For anyone exploring a career in marketing and communications, my advice would be to stay curious and continuously learn. Stay current with the latest trends, technologies, and consumer behaviours, attend industry conferences, and read industry publications to stay informed and ahead of the curve. Work hard, have dedication and the willingness to adapt and evolve with the industry and, of course, play nice.
With a passion for learning and a commitment to excellence, anyone can thrive in this exciting field.

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