The Top PR Firms in Finance

The banking crisis in the spring of 2023 demanded swift, transparent communication—and PR firms who not only understood the financial services industry but, more importantly, could explain it to the media.

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Public relations played a crucial role in navigating the various challenges and opportunities in the 2023 financial landscape. As the year marked progress from the financial setbacks of 2022, effective communication became paramount for clients in the financial space. Economic recovery was a central theme, and public relations efforts focused on conveying optimism and confidence to clients. 

Inflation and central bank policies presented a communication challenge. The narrative focused on the Federal Reserve's proactive measures to address inflation, emphasizing the success of monetary policy tightening without triggering a recession. Communicating the downward trend in consumer price index growth from 9.1 percent in June 2022 to 3.2 percent in October 2023 was a key part of the message.

The banking crisis in the spring of 2023 demanded swift and transparent communication. Public relations efforts aimed at restoring confidence in the financial sector. The Federal Reserve's intervention and assurance to customers of failed banks were central in messaging to minimize disruption and prevent a broader crisis. Larger banks stepping in to acquire assets also showcased stability and strategic solutions.

In addition, public relations communications focused on ongoing geopolitical events and their impact on financial markets. Trade disputes, conflicts, and uncertainties were acknowledged, and investors were reassured through transparent messaging about the interconnectedness of global markets.

Messaging and success became a delicate balancing act in 2023, as many PR firms were forced to freeze hiring or lay people off during what can be described as a difficult year. In some cases, PR firms were forced to place marketing budgets on hold while navigating the financial headwinds. 

Public relations campaigns highlighted technological innovation and disruption positively. Artificial intelligence has become a valuable tool for PR firms to boost efficiency and has significantly impacted banking and finance. In turn, A.I. automation sparked many conversations between PR firms, clients and vendors to glean some understanding of how the technology is being deployed and utilized. The current outlook on the use of A.I. is positive, with fears of job loss caused by automation steadily declining. The consensus surrounding A.I. is that the new technology will free PR firms from allocating time from mundane, low-risk tasks and take on more work. 

As the year concluded, the overarching theme in public relations messaging was adaptability. Investors were reminded of the ever-evolving nature of markets, and the lessons learned in 2023 were positioned as valuable insights for shaping future investment strategies. Staying informed and adaptable in dynamic financial landscapes was a key takeaway for investors.

This facilitated a need for PR firms to focus on specifics to deliver the best possible service regardless of the economic climate or the stage of a client’s lifecycle. Many PR firms have moved away from a templated approach and instead focus on the specific nature of a client’s goals. 

Visit our Power Index to view the entire 2024 PR Power Series.

Collected Strategies

A relatively new player in the strategic communications industry, Collected Strategies attributes its rapid success to a combination of factors. Despite perceptions of a distressed M&A market, the economy may not have been as dire as anticipated, with numerous deals still materializing. The firm capitalized on this environment, securing deals while filling a void in the market for sophisticated senior lead counsel in communications issues. Unlike existing incumbents focused on document management, Collected Strategies prioritized providing counsel, recognizing the growing importance of communication in recent years.

The firm's momentum is also attributed to its being a nimble alternative, responsive to clients' evolving needs. The partners emphasize their commitment to offering senior lead counsel across the entire corporate lifecycle, from IPOs to bankruptcies. They pride themselves on a team capable of handling diverse scenarios, standing out in an industry where competitors often follow routine document processing without offering tailored advice.

“I think our momentum came from the fact that there was just a real need in the marketplace for another alternative to provide sophisticated senior lead counsel on communications issues,” Jude Gorman, a partner at Collected Strategies, tells Observer. “Communications has become a much bigger deal over the last several years—the existing incumbents hadn't really changed their offering at all—it was the same old stuff.” 

Collected Strategies highlights involvement with notable companies, including a financial matter for one of the most shorted companies in America, a significant transaction between an ICT firm and Owens Corning, and a cross-border deal with Japanese company Sekisui House acquiring a Colorado homebuilder.

Looking ahead to 2024, the partners foresee continued growth, citing exciting opportunities in technology, A.I. and a focus on retail investors. They emphasize the importance of specialization, acknowledging that being a boutique firm allows them to excel in specific areas rather than trying to cover all aspects of communications. The partners anticipate increased political focus in the second half of the year, particularly around ESG issues, reflecting broader trends in the industry. They expressed readiness to assist clients in navigating these challenges and expect continued attention to sustainability and climate change.

Scott Bisang and Jude Gorman Collected Strategies

Dukas Linden

Dukas Linden Public Relations weathered the storm during challenging times for financial PR agencies in 2023 while thriving. Despite modest growth, they outshone many competitors that stagnated or downsized, avoiding layoffs and maintaining a positive trajectory. Notably, they secured prominent clients like Evercore, Harrison Street, London Business School and Lafayette Square, expanding their portfolio with impactful players in investment banking, real estate and education.

“The fact that we are specialists within finance is a huge boon to our clients, because we understand sophisticated businesses and investment firms—we know private equity, real estate, hedge funds, Bitcoin, real estate, hedging strategies and we have to be able to speak to C-suite executives, highly experienced portfolio managers and research analysts who have a deep understanding of the industry,” the agency’s chairman and CEO Richard Dukas tells Observer. “We then need to communicate that into relatively easy concepts that the media can understand.”

One of the agency’s key strengths lies in its comprehensive service offerings, extending beyond traditional media relations to content creation and media presentation coaching. Their ability to understand and articulate complex financial concepts ensures effective communication with diverse stakeholders. Notably, their crisis management expertise shone during turbulent times, advising clients through market uncertainties and geopolitical tensions.

Reflecting on notable achievements, they highlight their role in facilitating the launch of Bitcoin ETFs and navigating the fallout from significant banking industry challenges. They emphasize their commitment to guiding clients through crises with informed counsel and strategic communication.
Looking forward, the agency anticipates stability in financial markets and cautiously optimistic prospects for the year and remains poised for another successful year, capitalizing on the persistent need for financial services communication and brand building. Recognizing the imminent generational wealth transition, they aim to cater to emerging demographics, employing strategies like increased social media presence and prioritizing broadcast media for broader outreach.

Richard Dukas Dukas Linden


Gasthalter & Co. achieved notable success in advising on high-profile transactions within the asset management sector in 2023. This included overseeing the sales of Sculptor ($43B AUM) to Rithm, Angelo Gordon ($73B AUM) to TPG, and Varagon Capital Partners ($15B AUM) to Man Group. The Sculptor transaction, in particular, stood out as one of the most complex stories in the financial press during the latter half of the year, involving prominent financiers.

The year marked significant growth for the firm, with a nearly 30-person team spread across New York and Chicago. Key highlights included adding TCV, a renowned venture capital firm, supporting Boomy A.I. in reshaping misconceptions around the technology in the music industry and providing strategic communications support to Magnetar Capital for its lead investment in CoreWeave, a GPU cloud provider for machine learning and generative A.I. Additionally, Gasthalter played a crucial role in major activist shareholder situations, securing notable rankings in Bloomberg’s FY2023 Global Activism League Tables.

Looking ahead to 2024, Gasthalter anticipates future market fluctuations, emphasizing the importance of proactive reputation management. The firm plans to continue helping clients navigate communication strategies, incorporating non-traditional and digital means to engage and inform audiences. The evolving communications landscape will see Gasthalter utilize digital offerings, launching new websites, social media campaigns, video content and A.I. tools alongside traditional media strategies.

“We look forward to continuing to help new and existing clients leverage the right mix of strategies across channels best suited to reaching their core constituents and achieving their business objectives,” Gasthalter Founder and Managing Partner Jonathan Gasthalter told Observer. 

Gasthalter recognizes the growing importance of specialization and strategic advice as the industry shifts. The firm aims to adapt to the evolving media landscape by developing programs that utilize diverse tactics, both earned and owned, to achieve greater control and execution. Gasthalter emphasizes considering every external-facing channel, from websites to social platforms, to provide surgical precision in advising clients on the most efficient use of communication tools while recognizing the importance of maintaining deep relationships with the top-tier financial press.

Jonathan Gasthalter Gasthalter & Co.

Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher

In 2023, Joele Frank experienced a record-breaking year, focusing on being the best in all endeavors and delivering exceptional results for clients. Recognized as Communications Firm of the Year by M&A Advisor, the firm secured top rankings in various categories, including No.1 in PR/IR for M&A, Shareholder Activism, and Bankruptcy & Restructuring. Joele Frank executed communication strategies for 287 M&A transactions, totaling over $500 billion in value across 22 countries.

“Since our founding in 2000, Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher has operated with a clear purpose: Deliver excellent, effective, accountable communications counsel and support to enable clients to achieve their goals,” Matthew Sherman, Joele Frank’s president, tells Observer. “We are differentiated by the depth of talent in the firm, the intensity with which we approach our projects, and our unrelenting commitment to delivering results, all contributing to why so many boards, management teams and companies turn to Joele Frank as their strategic communications partner.”

The firm excelled in shareholder activism, advising in 77 public activist investor situations, nearly double its closest competitor. The firm also supported over 20 engagements exceeding $35 billion in liabilities. In private equity, Joele Frank advised on 170 sponsor-backed transactions totaling more than $170 billion, collaborating with over 40 firms with aggregate AUM of approximately $3.2 trillion in bankruptcy and restructuring. Notably, they served over 50 Fortune 200 companies, and more than 250 companies engaged Joele Frank for strategic communications needs.

New clients in 2023 included Choice Hotels, Crown Castle, Magellan Midstream Partners, MGM, NRG Energy, Planet Fitness, Rite Aid and US Steel. The firm made strategic hires, welcoming managing director Sarah Salky and 30 other professionals—emphasizing growth and development through 12 promotions.

Looking ahead to 2024, Joele Frank anticipates continued growth, success and deepening client relationships. They aim to play a pivotal role in industry trends, such as the expanding scope of A.I. in PR, the growing landscape of reporters and publications dedicated to activism and the evolving dynamics of ESG discussions. The firm recognizes the impact of turbulent market dynamics and the increasing role of digitized communications materials.

Joele Frank and Matthew Sherman Photo by Lionel Delevingne / Joele Frank

Water & Wall

Water & Wall stands out in the industry for several reasons. The agency's commitment to expertise and industry knowledge is evident, and it has a dedicated team that understands the nuances of financial spaces. Unlike many agencies that experience high employee turnover, Water & Wall prides itself on a strong retention rate, providing clients with a consistent team familiar with their brand and sector.

“We took a very methodical approach last year, focusing on making sure that we were in a good position,” cofounder Andrew Healy tells Observer. “Everyone says culture is key—and we love our clients—but our employees come first, and we’re proud of that. If we fail to take care of our people, they won't be around to care for our clients—so that's our model.”

A primary factor contributing to client loyalty is the agency's top-heavy structure, with most employees having extensive experience. This stability is crucial in an industry marked by constant changes and high expectations. Clients appreciate the agency's ability to deliver quality work without needing continuous education and onboarding.

The firm’s success also stems from its strategic approach to growth. In the previous year, the agency focused on strengthening its infrastructure and team hierarchy, ensuring it was well-prepared for new business opportunities. This supported the agency's commitment to employees, emphasizing a people-first culture and prioritizing their well-being.

Looking ahead, Water & Wall is optimistic about the industry's growth in 2024 and anticipates double-digit expansion. The agency has expanded into Boston, aiming to build a strong regional presence. Water & Wall's specialized approach positions it well for organic growth, and it actively seeks opportunities to deepen relationships with existing clients by taking on additional projects. A major win for the firm in 2023 was signing AXA Investment Managers, Americas. 

As the PR industry navigates the evolving landscape of A.I. and automation, Water & Wall sees these technologies as tools to enhance efficiency rather than replace human input entirely. The agency proactively explores A.I. applications, such as transcription services, to streamline mundane tasks and free up time for more impactful client-focused activities.

Andrew Healy and Matt Kirdahy Photo by Leigh Beckett

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