After ten years as Trading Room editor, Phil Stafford announced last week he has a new role as Digital Finance News Editor. That got me thinking – are there other FT journalists who have been in one role for an unusually long time, and who might move to a new role soon?
The Financial Times, like most good employers, likes to rotate people and keep them fresh. Sometimes they move offices, sometimes move more into news editing, sometimes shift into newer channel formats. New roles at FT tend to happen on a rolling basis, with people departing into new roles before a full-time successor is in place. The collegiate approach of the paper ensures little important gets missed.
Given the FT’s rotation policy, those who have done essentially the same thing for, say, seven years or more are a minority. That’s the group I have researched here. This can matter to companies who deal with a reporter for a long time and invest in that relationship, but also want to keep alert to the fact that that nothing is forever and change will come.
I should say that this article is based on public information, and grounded in Cognito’s years of scrutinizing the FT and how it develops staff. I don’t seek to pry into individual careers: with every individual, there can be reasons why the FT wants them to keep writing on something, and why they want to keep on writing on something. I’m grateful to Roxhill for the underlying data here.
When people have been in a role for a long time, it probably means they are seen more as a specialist, as opposed to on a management track – and those specialists are hugely important to the FT brand. Often on a newspaper, this can involve people preferring writing to editing or managing – Andrew Hill recently shifted from 1 years as management editor to a pure senior writing role.
Geography can also keep people in a role – Richard Waters has covered tech from the west coast for over a decade.
While some FT reporters do shifted from business to politics and back, in general there are natural silos for columnists. Jackie Wullschlager or Simon Kuper are not going to be Phil Stafford’s successor on market structure – fantastic as that would be.
Based on the above criteria, below is a factual list of 7 years+ lifers on the business side of the FT, plus some marginal cases. I make no attempt to give a percentage probability that an individual will still be in the same post in a year. In any particular case, there will be people who can point out why someone would never move, or might move quite soon. All comments welcome.
- Alan Beattie – mainly trade and international economics since 1998, though with geographic moves to Washington in 2010 and Brussels
- Tim Bradshaw – Global Technology Correspondent since 2018, but effectively tech reporter in SF and LA from 2012
- Rebecca Bream – deputy news editor since 2014
- Jo Cumbo – 2020 – pensions since 2014
- Chris Flood – fund management and a bit of indexes since 2010
- Neil Hume – Commodities Editor since 2013, with a slight rebadging as Natural Resources Editor in 2018
- Steve Johnson – fund management since 2006, slight shift into “EMSquared” but back now on ETFs
- Emiko Terazono – online Commodities Editor since 2011
A sub-category is people whose longevity in role at the FT is not so extensive, but who were already doing the same beat elsewhere. Two notable examples:
- Eva Szaley – FX at FT since 2018, but previously at FX Week
- Laurence Fletcher – five years covering hedge funds at FT, after the same beat at WSJ
Some marginal cases
- Alec Russell has been Weekend FT editor since 2016 – a somewhat different case, as he appeared to be a candidate for the editorship two years ago, and may well still have another management role in him
- David Oakley - Companies Editor & Industry News Editor since 2017, after role as corporate Affairs correspondent
- Gary Silverman – US News Editor twice 2006-12 and 2018-21 (US National Editor in between), but now US Financial Editor
- James Fontanella-Khan US Corporate Finance and Deals Editor from 2018, after US M&A role from 2015
In terms of sectors, there is no real trend, but asset management and financial markets are quite strongly represented. No surprise that newer beats, like ESG and crypto, aren’t well represented – but that will come.
Andrew Marshall is Cognito's vice chairman based in New York