Monday 15 October 2012

Five Minute Abchat: Harriet Russell, Growth Company Investor

Harriet Russell, an equities and markets journalist at Growth Company Investor, takes some time out of the busy reporting season to speak to Abchurch about her background, interests, the industry and what really makes a journo tick!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
My childhood was spent desperately wanting to be a dancer but I soon realised it’s pretty hard and that I was not particularly gifted (my dad’s words!) so I turned into a bit of a nerd at school instead. I always knew I loved English and literature at school but I never tried to box myself into one career path – in case I got bored before I’d even begun! I actually tried to get into the professions before turning to journalism full time but found they weren’t creatively fulfilling.

How did you get into journalism?
It started mainly at university although I had dabbled at school by being made editor of the annual magazine. At uni I was Deputy News Editor and then Comment Editor of the student newspaper. The pace of news is addictive but I liked being able to share my opinion in comment, so I guess my job today is a bridge of the two.

Describe your role in ten words or less (if that’s possible!):
Interview companies, build relationships, write news flow, write share tips.

If I wasn’t talking to you now, what would you be doing?
My afternoons generally get reserved either for meetings (earlier), or working on my content for the monthly magazine. Right now I should be finishing the feature for the November issue!

What is the most interesting thing about your work?
Getting to meet the most important people in these companies – that are all worth multiples of millions – face to face and ask them direct questions which most people my age will never get a chance to do. I also get to travel to sites for certain companies who make the offer which is invaluable to really get a picture of the company and whether there’s a great story there or not.

Is there a common misconception about journalists?
I think different PR firms and different companies will have different suspicions but I think the most obvious to me is that I’m always looking for ‘dirt’ and a reason to write a poor review. I’m honestly not, I don’t much enjoy writing about a lack of success because I know these are hard times! It’s quite the opposite: I’m looking for the companies who really are weathering the storm and providing excellent returns for shareholders and have proved they can keep doing so. Another misconception is that we all will make stuff up. Some people take liberties but most of us hang tight to integrity and fact.

How has the industry changed over the last couple of years?
The financial crisis has obviously changed things in ways that will never be the same. The attitude to risk is completely different. While AIM is still a higher risk market, everyone, from investors to NOMADS, is taking a far more cautious stance on companies entering and trading on the market. Regulation is moving higher on the agenda. Also, our readers are perhaps less interested in a volatile high-risk return as they are in interesting or untouched regions of the world. So if you can prove steady revenues and profits in an interesting part of the world we’ll definitely notice you!

What developments do you expect to see in the next twelve months?
Unfortunately I don’t expect to see much change at all in terms of market movement. It’s very flat and it will stay that way until some bigger issues come to a head such as Europe, the commodity market and availability of credit. People have been optimistic year on year only to have their hopes dashed and it’s time to be realistic, sensible and keep costs and expectations lower rather than higher. I’m no economic genius and couldn’t possibly predict when things will pick up. Investors remain highly conservative as do companies – the number of new hires for instance remains really low which is understandable but really sad for a generation that will inevitably hold some great people.

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