KPMG this week signalled it is to slash its internal training team, which runs staff training for thousands of UK employees, with up to 75 jobs at risk.
According to the Evening Standard, Carrie Dunn, head of UK HR at KPMG, wrote to employees on the “learning deployment operations” (LDO) team in Watford informing them that their work would now be carried out by 30 staff in Leeds. Other aspects of the team’s work would be outsourced to India. Another, unnamed, source told the newspaper that about 75 roles were at risk.
The cuts come on top of the shedding of more than 200 administrative staff meaning that some partners will no longer have access to a personal assistant. Partners in non-client facing roles are being encouraged to file their own expenses, and administrative assistants surviving the cull will see their job titles altered to “executive assistant”.
KPMG, however, has denied the Evening Standard and Financial Times’ claim that it planned to axe 65 of its UK partners, amounting to one-tenth of senior roles, with a spokesperson explaining that this level of loss of partners, and the appointment of new ones, was perfectly normal: “This year we have appointed 50 new partners and 200 new directors, across all parts of our business.
“In a typical year around the same number of partners will retire from the firm, often going on to senior roles elsewhere in both the private and public sector.”
On the cut in admin roles the spokesperson said: “We are not taking these steps lightly, but we believe the proposed structure will enable us to deliver the best possible experience for our clients. We are now in the process of consulting with affected staff on the plans.”
In an email sent to training team staff, seen by the Evening Standard, Dunn wrote “I know that every single person in LDO wants to do a good job and it is important that we continue business as usual for our clients. Today’s announcement is nothing to do with performance, rather it’s everything to do with the changing world of work and the way we need to work differently to best serve our clients.”
A KPMG spokesperson added: “We are transforming our UK business. As part of this process we have reviewed the way we deliver learning and development to our people and subject to consultation, we are proposing to move learning deployment operations to our Leeds office.”
The firm added that it was increasing investment so it could deliver the “best possible learning experience to our people”. It said it was now in the process of consulting with affected staff on the plans.
Overall, KPMG is pursuing about 150 cost cutting measures as it looks to preserve its profits. The programme launched in October, called Project Zebra, aims to save £100m and has also included recalling corporate mobile phones from some employees, the sale of its pensions arms for more than £200m, plans to move its market and sales team from Canary Wharf to Reading and the possible closure of its five-storey Mayfair private members’ club. It is also investing £200m in its audit practice.
The firm has suffered reputational damage in recent times after being hit by fines from the Financial Reporting Council for its client work with Co-operative Bank and BNY Mellon, criticism from the watchdog of its own audits, a corruption scandal in South Africa and its involvement in the collapse of Carillion.
Additionally, it has recently lost three senior staff in a dispute over misuse of WhatsApp and allegations of inappropriate behaviour and bullying.
Personnel Today has contacted KPMG for a comment on the restructuring.