Helen Kirrane, Communications Executive, AIC

In today's Money Talks, Headlinemoney Awards 2022 nominee Helen Kirrane discusses her work surrounding the collapse of Woodford Investment Management and the lessons she learned, and reveals her excitement at attending in-person events.

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Communications Executive, the Association of Investment Companies (AIC).

The main areas that I cover are:

Investment companies and VCTs.

What was your reaction to making the shortlist?

Very excited! I have been in the industry for just under a year, but I have really enjoyed learning all about investment companies and connecting with the journalists writing pieces about our industry. I went to my first Headlinemoney awards last September, which was also my first ever industry event and remember feeling quite in awe of everyone who was shortlisted. So it was a pleasant surprise to be shortlisted myself!

From your work so far, if you had to pick the campaign you are most proud of, what would it be, and why?

I was most proud to be involved in our research into the 2019 collapse of Woodford Investment Management and suspension of Woodford Equity Income. Our research aimed to look into why and how the collapse occurred, the impact on investors and financial advisers and the lessons that can be learnt from the disaster.

To me, one of the most important things about this research was its focus on the human impact of the collapse and its effect on investors. Not only were the financial effects devastating, but also the emotional impact – with investors citing that they were left feeling shocked, helpless and angry by the collapse. We also highlighted how this affected investors over the long term, some sadly lost their pensions as a result.

The research brought many considerations into focus, but the emphasis on what lessons we can learn to ensure investors don’t get burned again by a similar collapse of an open-ended fund was important to me. We cast light on what can happen when illiquid assets are put into funds with an unsuitable structure for them, which could lead to suspensions and investors facing serious financial and emotional consequences.

What made you become a financial PR?

I love meeting new people and I thought financial PR sounded exciting – there’s always a newsworthy story from IPOs to big management group changes. It’s a fast-moving industry with lots of interesting people, which I liked the idea of. I also saw it as an opportunity to learn about something new and investing felt tangible to me. From helping to fund the green revolution through renewable energy infrastructure companies to VCTs which finance innovations in healthcare and technology, you can see the impact of your investment. I was excited by the idea of helping to communicate this, especially at the AIC where we aim to educate and inform investors on the benefits of closed-ended investment companies.

2021 was a difficult year for everyone, but what were the challenges you faced, as a relatively new ‘rising star’ financial PR?:

I’ve come to understand that so much of financial PR is about getting out and meeting everyone – journalists, brokers, analysts, fund managers – the list goes on. When I joined the AIC this was really difficult as there were no in-person events, so not many opportunities to meet anyone. It was pretty hard to foster relationships with new people exclusively through email and Zoom, especially as a complete newbie. But now I’m really looking forward to meeting more people and going to more fun events!

Finally, if you were up for an award for any hobbies/activities outside of work, what would you be likely to win?

“Most likely to bring lunch to work and not eat it in favour of nearby food market”!

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