TOP TEN REPUTATION MANAGERS
A veteran of the corridors of power and the byways of influence for more than four decades, McDonough is trusted by UHNWs, corporations and high-flying individuals in public life (not to mention ‘a head of state, as I still do’).
The perspicacious, soft-spoken McDonough is known for his trustworthiness, discretion and weighty connections — increasingly precious commodities. There’s no third-party involvement, junior consultants or others. Clients — successful ‘people who actually want a friend, an ally, a second opinion and a reflective view’ — come and sit with him in person at his Westminster HQ, fused to the Abbey’s flank. Together they work out goals and ways to achieve them.
He offers a few thoughts on the shockwaves of global change in the wake of Brexit and President Trump: ‘There’s more and more scope for giving a reflective view… The change in the circumstances of our relationships in the world and all that’s happened must impact on the kind of conversations that close trusted advisers have,’ he says. ‘My business as an adviser
is to take an intelligent, informed view, which is only acquired by talking to people who are well informed and who are influencing the climate of opinion, and trying to read the runes — looking at the implications of change and keeping close to the sources of advice on change and changing international relationships.’
Whether you’ve built or are running a great business, law firm or philanthropic foundation, the fundamentals still apply: ‘If you are better known for the right reasons and better understood for the right reasons, you are almost invariably going to be regarded for the right reasons,’ he says. ‘You are almost certainly going to be more successful in what you set out to do.’
McDonough first founded his own firm in 1980 after his first post-Oxford job — acting
as chief of staff to Basil (now Lord) Feldman, including a spell writing briefings for Margaret Thatcher. He spent thirteen years at Bell Pottinger before founding his current consultancy in 2003.