KPMG votes to extend Jon Holt’s tenure as UK chief executive

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KPMG’s partners have voted “overwhelmingly” to extend Jon Holt’s tenure as UK chief executive after a tumultuous first term that was dominated by his attempts to repair the Big Four firm’s reputation following a series of scandals.

Holt, who took over as UK chief executive and senior partner in April 2021, would lead the firm until September 2029, KPMG said on Monday. The extension was approved by a vote of the firm’s 467 equity partners after a recommendation from the board’s nomination committee.

KPMG has faced numerous challenges since Holt took charge. The former head of audit took over from Bill Michael, who resigned after he told staff to “stop moaning” about pandemic work conditions and dismissed the ides of unconscious bias as “complete and utter crap”.

Holt has sought to repair KPMG’s reputation, after a series of fines and scandals, and to boost profits, which have lagged behind those of its rivals in the UK.

Last October, KPMG was hit with a record £21mn fine for failures in its auditing of outsourcer Carillion. Since 2018, it has received 17 penalties from the UK accounting watchdog and industry tribunals. The total penalties and costs levied against the firm during that time are more than £95mn.

At the time of the Carillion fine, Holt said: “These findings are damning . . . I am very sorry that these failings happened in our firm . . . It is clear to me that our audit work on Carillion was very bad, over an extended period.”

Holt has attempted to move beyond what he has called “legacy cases” and is spearheading a merger between KPMG’s UK and Swiss businesses to try to boost growth and profits.

In a statement on Monday, Holt said: “2024 will see us make some big changes — combining our deals and consulting businesses into one practice called advisory — and exploring a potential merger with KPMG Switzerland to give us more collective power to invest and build new services.”

During its latest financial year, KPMG’s UK partners earned an average of £746,000. Revenue growth slowed to 9 per cent to £2.96bn, compared with 16 per cent in the previous year. In November, the Financial Times reported that the firm had frozen pay for about 12,000 employees in the UK amid a difficult economic environment.

Under Holt’s leadership, the size of the UK partnership has also been cut to less than half that of rival PwC.

Bina Mehta, chair of KPMG UK, said the extension was “a reflection of the substantial progress he has made to transform our firm and puts us on a strong footing to deliver sustainable growth”.


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