Financial Times launches dedicated consulting arm FT Strategies

06 November 2019 4 min. read

The Financial Times has launched its own dedicated consulting wing, as the newspaper continues to diversify its business model in a bid to grow revenue and profitability. FT Strategies will offer clients facing digital disruption invaluable expertise in the implementation of new media models.

The fact that the consulting market continues to outpace the growth of the wider economy seems to have sparked something of a gold rush in recent times. Many long-time incumbents of various markets have sought to tap new growth by shifting into the consulting space over the last few years. New entrants include experienced marketing firms, international legal companies, and financial services companies.

Unsurprisingly, media organisations have also been among those looking to tap into the growth opportunities consulting offers. With falling readership and rising digital competitors resulting in a major decline in advertising revenue, many established journalistic entities have been tempted to put their expertise to work in the world of advisory services. In 2017, this saw US-based business news corporation Bloomberg establish a management consulting outfit. Now, Britain’s Financial Times has followed suit, with the announcement that it is launching a new consulting unit names FT Strategies.

Financial Times launches dedicated consulting arm FT Strategies

Founded in 1888, the Financial Times is headquartered in London, and retains a special emphasis on business and economic news. However, since its 2015 sale from Pearson to Japanese firm Nikkei for £844 million, the organisation has been looking to diversify its offering in order to strengthen its profitability. With news organisations increasingly turning to pay-walls and subscriptions to drive up revenues as advertising income falls, the paper appears to be an early model and a success story – having reported in the spring that it passed 1 million paying readers, with digital subscribers accounting for more than three-fourths of its circulation.

On the heels of that business model change, the Financial Times seems to be hoping to share its transformation know-how with paying clients, while further diversifying its business by establishing a “pure consulting business.” According to an interview with Financial Times Chief Data Officer Tom Betts published by Tech Crunch, FT Strategies will work with any company that’s facing disruption “as the news media industry has,” or that’s in a sector that’s part of the broader direct-to-consumer trend, helping such firms determine how to market, build relationships, and improve consumer engagement with products.

FT Strategies

Betts went on to state that FT Strategies will not be based around selling technology it has developed to other publishers – at least initially. While Betts said the firm should “never say never about the technology dimension,” the technology it developed to run its subscription service has already “become commoditised,” making it tough to base a business around. Instead, FT Strategies can offer expertise when it comes to implementing such technology.

Relating to this, Betts told Tech Crunch, “Even if you go and buy best-of-breed technology, that doesn’t mean you can assemble it in the right way to make it useful and meaningful to scale and grow direct-to-consumer revenues. And most importantly it doesn’t mean that you know how to operate it with teams and how to actually use it to successfully scale and grow your business.”

As FT Strategies gets off the ground, it is already enjoying a degree of success in catering to the need for support in integrating new technology. According to Betts, the company has already tested the idea in beta, building a client list which features Bonnier, The Business of Fashion, Penguin Random House and the V&A. This demonstrates the firm’s potential to grow beyond other news companies, and also support companies facing disruption in the book publishing and museum spaces too.