BGOV’s Top-Performing Lobbying Firms, Q3 2015

With third-quarter Lobbying Disclosure Act filings in — and with our analysis of issue and industry trends and an industry snapshot already published — we’re turning our attention to top performers. Bloomberg Government’s third-quarter top performers are:

Bloomberg Government examined six critical business performance metrics to determine which firms excelled during the third quarter of 2015.

CGCN Group continued to demonstrate exceptional performance in Q3. It’s the only firm that has met Bloomberg Government’s top-performer standards for the fourth time in a row.

Of the roughly 1,300 registered lobbying firms that filed Q3 lobbying disclosure reports with the Senate, only 22 firms met all six of Bloomberg Government’s criteria.
Each firm, in addition to meeting a revenue threshold, had to exhibit revenue growth, accretive growth (positive percentage change in year-over-year average revenue per client), two measures of customer satisfaction, and sizable revenue per registered lobbyist.

Relative performance in each of the criteria (not including the revenue threshold) was then compared to determine the placement of the 22 firms on the list.

The Common Thread

A few weeks ago, one client asked a smart question: “What’s the common thread among the firms that consistently show up on your top-performers lists?” The question raises two important points.

First, while making the list for one quarter is a great accomplishment, it’s more desirable for a firm to show positive trends across the key performance criteria over longer time periods.

In other words, it’s better to show outperformance consistently over time, rather than sporadically. This also suggests that failing to make the list for a given period is not necessarily a sign of an underperforming firm.

Second, it’s easier to identify what isn’t a common thread. A review of this quarter’s list shows:

  • It’s not about size. Peck Madigan Jones & Stewart generated more than 11 times the amount of revenue that Gibson Group did, but both made the list.
  • It’s not about specialization. The Russell Group is intensely focused on food and agriculture issues, while Fierce Government Relations works on multiple issues, with no particular one making up more than 13 percent of its work.
  • It’s not about the party in charge. CGCN is a Republican firm and Subject Matter (formerly Elmendorf Ryan) is a Democratic one.

You could go on identifying differences among the firms on the list. But what unifies them?

The answer isn’t in the data — it’s in the management philosophy.

More often than not, the leaders of the top-performing firms think of their lobbying efforts in the broader context of running a business. We hear concepts from these managers such as expanding margins, showing a return on investment or generating shareholder value.

The leaders of firms that consistently make our top-performer lists, which are based on business performance criteria, think of their firms as businesses.

Other Highlights

Nine of the 22 firms also appeared in Bloomberg Government’s second-quarter list of top performers.

Washington Tax & Public Policy Group duplicated its second-quarter No. 1 showing in Q3.

CGCN Group continued to demonstrate exceptional performance in Q3. It’s the only firm that has met Bloomberg Government’s top-performer standards for the fourth time in a row.

What’s Next

Later this week, Bloomberg Government will publish a report on the top-performing lobbying/law firms and new lobbying firms. Both categories are evaluated using different benchmarks, since lobbying/law firms show different performance characteristics than pure lobbying shops and new firms can’t be evaluated on three-year retention rates.

(Bob Meteer, Jacqueline Montgomery and Jorge Uquillas are quantitative analysts with Bloomberg Government.)

To contact the analysts: Bob Meteer in Washington at rmeteer1@bloomberg.net; Jacqueline Montgomery in Washington at jmontgomer52@bloomberg.net; Jorge Uquillas in Washington at juquillas@bloomberg.net To contact the director of government affairs research: Tony Costello at acostello4@bloomberg.net Editors: Jodie Morris, Hiram Reisner