People on the move: MSIF; CIM; Equilibrium; Knauf Insulation; HRC Law

John O'Brien

Liverpool-based investment fund MSIF has appointed John O’Brien as its non-executive chairman.

O’Brien succeeds Andy Rigby, who retired from the board on the same date.

O’Brien brings a breadth of experience with an extensive track record behind him. As a partner at KPMG he led radical change, reshaping his business areas by merger, acquisition and significant recruitment.

His client base included sizeable businesses such as Princes Foods, Arriva, United Utilities, Amec, a number of the national private equity community and several local entrepreneurial businesses including Downing Developments, American Golf, Engenda and Epichem.

O’Brien is recognised by his clients and colleagues as a forthright, clear thinker who takes a balanced and commercial view to problems and opportunities to generate innovative and executable solutions – great qualities for his new role with MSIF.

Although his extensive career has taken him away from Liverpool before, he retained a passion for the Liverpool City Region, and has always returned to his home in Merseyside.

O’Brien said: “I am pleased to be joining a successful and well regarded team, led by chief executive Lisa Greenhalgh, who are focused on supporting SMEs in the Liverpool City Region. With Lisa, I look forward to continuing to raise the profile of MSIF in the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West SME community.”

Greenhalgh welcomed O’Brien to MSIF: “John is well known in the region and brings a breadth of transaction and business experience as well as a passion for the Liverpool City Region.”


The Chartered Institute of Marketing has unveiled Andrew Binns as its new vice chair for the North West with responsibility for senior marketers.

Binns, who is senior vice president at Ashfield Digital and Creative, part of UDG Healthcare, officially joins the team along with two other vice chairs to replace team members that have served their time.

Diane Earles, network manager for CIM, said “We are very excited to bring on board Andrew, who has a wealth of experience and contacts to strengthen our offering and reach in the North West.”

Binns has more than 15 years’ experience in strategic marketing which has seen him influence marketing throughout a number of sectors including FMCG, sport, hospitality and most recently the pharmaceutical industry.

His’s opinions in marketing are frequently sought after and have seen him take various roles including senior judge for the Communiqué Awards and he is a regular contributor to publications including Pharmaceutical Market Europe.

Binns said: “It’s an honour to have been given this role and I’m really looking forward to working with Richard Kenyon, the other two vice chairs, Diane and the regional team.”


Equilibrium has set its sights on a buoyant 2018 after hiring nine new members of staff.

The wealth management company has appointed client managers Sam Patterson, Rosie Bailey and Belinda White.

Nadia Ashraf has also joined the ranks as financial controller while Jon Yarker and Sam Richards have joined the Wilmslow, Cheshire-headquartered firm as marketing executives.

David Quesnel, Ben Harrison and Nick Champ join Equilibrium as trainee management accountant and trainee client managers respectively.

It comes after Equilibrium recently announced that turnover broke through the £7m barrier – with the company landing more than £100m of new assets under management in 2017.

Debbie Jukes, partner and head of client care at Equilibrium, said: “As the business grows, our team grows with it. This quarter we have seen nine new employees join Equilibrium across different areas of the business.

“2017 has been a particularly strong year, with the company crowned fifth best small company to work for by The Sunday Times and now managing over £700m of assets for over 950 families.”

Equilibrium also has a Chester office, employs 68 staff and company specialises in all areas of wealth management, investment, pensions, tax planning and estate planning.


St Helens-based Knauf Insulation has appointed Vanessa Rae as marketing director to develop the brand’s presence as the leading provider for mineral wool insulation solutions in Northern Europe.

Working closely with managing director John Sinfield, and the central marketing team in Brussels, Rae will lead all Northern European marketing activities.

With more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing roles in Belgium, Germany and the UK, Rae joins from Rolls-Royce, where she was head of marketing and communications for its digital organisation – the business’ specialist data innovation arm.

Prior to this, Rae managed international marketing teams at Kingspan Insulated Panels and NSG Group (Pilkington Glass).

Rae said: “Knauf Insulation is well-known in the industry and its name is synonymous with the highest quality, innovation and sustainability.”

“Its ECOSE Technology, which celebrates its 10 year anniversary next year, is still market-leading and its approach to new sector trends is seeing it bring brand new solutions to market.”

“The business is constantly developing new products and technology to meet the evolving needs of its customers and to raise the overall performance of the built environment.

“This, coupled with the rise of digitalisation in the construction industry as a whole, makes it an incredibly exciting time to join the business. I look forward to helping develop and bring the next generation of insulation solutions to our customers.”


Full service commercial law firm, HRC Law, has announced the appointment of Joe Rogers to its corporate and commercial team as a paralegal.

The appointment comes as trainee Jennifer Kelly completed her training contract at the firm, qualifying as a solicitor.

Kelly also qualifies into the growing corporate and commercial team as the firm responds to an increasing demand for its service. The team has recently been involved in a high volume of deals and has particular specialism across the ecommerce, childcare and pharmacy sectors.

Kelly said: “I’ve seen HRC Law go from strength-to-strength during my training contract. What sets the firm apart is the people-centric culture and opportunity to help clients’ businesses succeed and really make a difference. I look forward to developing my career further at HRC Law.”

Rogers said: “HRC’s team is making waves in the regional legal market. As a young and ambitious firm with a client base to match, this role presented an unrivalled opportunity to gain hands-on experience working closely with the partners.”

Partner Mark Traynor said: “As a team we’ve been very active in the past 12 months with the department, and the firm as a whole, seeing strong growth.

“The most important thing for us as we grow is to continue offering high quality advice to our clients whilst maintaining the collegiate team culture, which has quickly become HRC Law’s hallmark.

“We believe the way to do this is by attracting and nurturing the best talent. With Jen’s qualification and Joe’s appointment I’m confident we have two rising stars of the legal profession.”