Navigating the Business of Politics

In this episode, Founding Partner & Executive Chairman at H/Advisors - Cicero, Iain Anderson shares his journey into the world of politics and business.

Inspired to become involved in politics by the 1976 film 'All the President's Men' Iain joined the Conservative party as a young man but rather than looking to Parliament he founded his agency, Cicero and became a renowned political commentator on national and international media including many appearances on Question Time.

We talk about his experiences founding and leading Cicero, a strategic communications agency that advises on strategy, political risk, and public policy, and how he grew the business organically and strategically through M&A.

Iain recounts the challenges the agency faced during the 2008 financial crisis and how investment decisions and branching into new sectors like health, infrastructure, and technology helped the company come back around and grow, which eventually led to its acquisition by Havas.

Iain emphasises the importance of political change, economic confidence, and adaptability. He has an infectious enthusiasm for the evolving nature of global politics and we discuss why he has recently stepped across the aisle and is working with Sir Keirr Starmer to promote business as part of the Labour Party.

In this episode, we also discuss:

  • Weathering the global financial crisis
  • Agency M&A and becoming ready to acquire
  • Selling Cicero to Havas and the global opportunities it presented
  • The fear of being on Question Time
  • What it's like to see your friends get to the top of the political tree


01:28 - 04:24: How the 1976 film 'All the President's Men' film inspired Iain to pursue a career in politics and communications

06:08: Taking on investment at the beginning of his journey with Cicero

12:57: Acquisition of Westbourne and key learnings

17:47: Selling Cicero to Havas

30:55: Joining the Conservative party at 16 and going to his first conference in 1984

39:06: Leaving the Conservatives and joining Labour

Podcast videos

Video 1: Iain Anderson's learnings from his acquisition of Westbourne

Video 2: What it takes to be 'match fit' ahead of an acquisition