KPMG

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KPMG
Swiss Cooperative
Industry Professional services
Founded 1987; 31 years ago (1987)
(merger of Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler)
1979 (1979)
(KMG)
1925 (1925)
(Peat Marwick)
1818 (1818) (Oldest component: Grace, Darbyshire, & Todd)[1]
Founders
  • John Moaxham
  • James Grace
  • James Grace Jr.
  • Henry Grace
  • James Marwick
  • Roger Mitchell
  • Ferdinand William LaFrentz
  • Robert Fletcher
  • William Barclay Peat
  • Frank Wilber Main
  • Piet Klijnveld
  • Jaap Kraayenhof
  • Phillip Derbyshire
  • Gerald Todd
Headquarters Amstelveen, Netherlands[2]
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Bill Thomas (chairman)[3]
Services
Revenue Increase US$26.40 billion (2017)[4]
Number of employees
188,982 (2016)[5]
Website www.kpmg.com

KPMG is a professional service company and one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Seated in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, KPMG employs 189,000 people[5] and has three lines of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory. Its tax and advisory services are further divided into various service groups.

The name "KPMG" stands for "Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler." It was chosen when KMG (Klynveld Main Goerdeler) merged with Peat Marwick in 1987.

History[edit]

Early years and mergers[edit]

Current KPMG head office in Amstelveen, The Netherlands
15 Canada Square in Canary Wharf, London. The headquarters of KPMG in the UK.
Peat Marwick logo
Headquarters of KPMG LLP, the United States-based member firm of KPMG International, at 345 Park Avenue, New York City
The 34-story KPMG Tower on De Maisonneuve Boulevard in Montreal
The KPMG Tower at 355 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles
KPMG offices at 150 West Jefferson in Detroit
KPMG at the Bay Adelaide West tower in Toronto

The organization's history spanned three centuries. In 1818 John Moxham opened a company in Bristol.[1] James Grace and James Grace Jr. bought John Moaxham & Co. and renamed it James Grace & Son in 1857.[1] In 1861 Henry Grace joined James Jr. and the company was renamed James & Henry Grace.[1] William Barclay Peat joined Robert Fletcher & Co. in London at 17 and became head of the firm in 1891, renamed William Barclay Peat & Co. by then.[6] In 1877 Thomson McLintock founded Thomson McLintock & Co in Glasgow.[6] In 1897 Marwick Mitchell & Co. was founded by James Marwick and Roger Mitchell in New York City. In 1899 Ferdinand William LaFrentz founded the American Audit Co., in New York.[7]

On the other side of the Atlantic, in about 1913, Frank Wilber Main founded Main & Co. in Pittsburgh.[8] In March 1917 Piet Klijnveld and Jaap Kraayenhof opened an accounting firm called Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. in Amsterdam.[6] In 1920 Philipp Derbyshire & Gerald Todd became partners in James & Henry Grace and it was renamed to Grace, Darbyshire, & Todd.[1]

In 1923 The American Audit Company was renamed FW LaFrentz & Co.[7] In 1925 William Barclay Peat & Co. and Marwick Mitchell & Co., merged to form Peat Marwick Mitchell & Company (later known simply as Peat Marwick).[9]

In 1963 Main LaFrentz & Co was formed by the merger of Main & Co and FW LaFrentz & Co. In 1967 Grace, Darbyshire, & Todd merged with CJ Ryland & Co to form Grace, Ryland & Co.[1] In 1969 Thomson McLintock and Main LaFrentz merged forming McLintock Main LaFrentz International [10] and McLintock Main LaFrentz International absorbed the general practice of Grace, Ryland & Co.[1]

In 1979 Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. (Netherlands), McLintock Main LaFrentz (United Kingdom / United States) and Deutsche Treuhandgesellschaft (Germany) formed KMG (Klynveld Main Goerdeler) as a grouping of independent national practices to create a strong European-based international firm.[6] In the United States, Main Lafrentz & Co. merged with Hurdman and Cranstoun to form Main Hurdman & Cranstoun.[11]

Then in 1987 KMG and Peat Marwick joined forces in the first mega-merger of large accounting firms and formed a firm called KPMG in the US, and most of the rest of the world, and Peat Marwick McLintock in the UK.[6]

In the Netherlands, as a consequence of the merger between PMI and KMG in 1988, PMI tax advisors joined Meijburg & Co. (The tax advisory agency Meijburg & Co. was founded by Willem Meijburg, Inspector of National Taxes, in 1939). Today, the Netherlands is the only country with two members of KPMG International: KPMG Audit (accountants) and Meijburg & Co (tax consultants).[12]

In 1990 the two firms settled on the common name of KPMG Peat Marwick McLintock but in 1991 the firm was renamed KPMG Peat Marwick, and in 1999 the name was reduced again to KPMG.[13]

In October 1997, KPMG and Ernst & Young announced that they were to merge.[14][15] However, while the merger to form PricewaterhouseCoopers was granted regulatory approval, the KPMG/Ernst & Young tie-up was later abandoned.[16][17]

Recent history[edit]

KPMG building in Kamloops, British Columbia

In 2001 KPMG divested its U.S. consulting firm through an initial public offering of KPMG Consulting Inc, which is now called BearingPoint, Inc.[18] In early 2009, BearingPoint filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[19]

The UK and Dutch consulting arms were sold to Atos Origin in 2002.[20]

In 2003 KPMG divested itself of its legal arm, Klegal[21] and KPMG LLP sold its Dispute Advisory Services to FTI Consulting.[22]

KPMG's member firms in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein merged to form KPMG Europe LLP in October 2007. These member firms were followed by Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, CIS (Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia), Turkey, Norway, and Saudi Arabia.[23][24] They appointed joint Chairmen, John Griffith-Jones and Ralf Nonnenmacher.[6]

Global structure[edit]

Each national KPMG firm is an independent legal entity and is a member of KPMG International Cooperative, a Swiss entity registered in the Swiss Canton of Zug. KPMG International changed its legal structure from a Swiss Verein to a co-operative under Swiss law in 2003.[25]

This structure in which the Cooperative provides support services only to the member firms is similar to other professional services networks. The member firms provide the services to client. The purpose is to limit the liability of each independent member.[26]

Bill Thomas is KPMG's Global Chairman. He was formerly Senior Partner and CEO of KPMG LLP, the KPMG member firm in Canada.[27]

Some KPMG member firms are registered as multidisciplinary entities which also provide legal services in certain jurisdictions.[28]

Services[edit]

KPMG is organised into the following three service lines (the 2016 revenue shares are listed in parentheses):[5]

Tax arrangements relating to tax avoidance and multinational corporations and Luxembourg which were negotiated by KPMG became public in 2014 in the so-called Luxembourg Leaks.[29]

Community involvement and advocacy[edit]

In March 2017 KPMG launched a campaign designed to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology-based professions.[30]

Staff[edit]

The US branch of KPMG was rated one of the top 10 companies for working mothers.[31] It was also ranked No. 12 on Fortune Magazine's 2017 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, voted for by employees.[32]

KPMG was the preferred employer among the Big Four accounting firms according to CollegeGrad.com.[33] It was also ranked No. 4 on the list of "50 Best Places to Launch a Career" in 2009 according to BusinessWeek.[34]

In 2009, KPMG in the UK was named the best big company to work for by The Times. This was the fourth consecutive year that KPMG had made the top three.[35]

In 2009, in the UK, KPMG introduced a programme known as 'Flexible Futures'. This allowed staff to volunteer to give the firm the option to either send them on a sabbatical at 30% pay for up to 12 weeks, or to reduce their working hours to 4 days a week. The option remained open to the firm until October 2010. This facility has been invoked by the firm in some departments. KPMG publicised this as innovative and an alternative approach to redundancies.[36]

In October 2010, for the eighth year in a row, KPMG was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's news magazine. In November 2010, KPMG was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[37]

It was reported in early 2012 that KPMG has about 11,000 staff in the UK and 9,000 in mainland China and Hong Kong. KPMG's global deputy chairman predicted that headcount in China would overtake that of the UK by the end of 2013.[38]

KPMG's Innovation Lab is based out of a WeWork in New York City.[39]

Controversies[edit]

Tax shelter fraud[edit]

In 2003, the IRS issued summonses to KPMG for information about certain tax shelters and their investors.[40] In February 2004, the US Justice Department commenced a criminal inquiry.[40] The United States member firm, KPMG LLP, was accused by the United States Department of Justice of fraud in marketing abusive tax shelters. KPMG fired or forced the retirement of over a dozen who were involved.[41] KPMG LLP admitted criminal wrongdoing in creating fraudulent tax shelters to help wealthy clients avoid $2.5 billion in taxes between 1996 and 2002, and agreed to pay $456 million in penalties to avoid indictment. Under the deferred prosecution agreement, KPMG LLP would not face criminal prosecution if it complied with the terms of its agreement with the government. On 3 January 2007, the criminal conspiracy charges against KPMG were dropped.[42]

Various[edit]

In 2003, KPMG agreed to pay $125 million and $75 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the firm's audits of Rite Aid and Oxford Health Plans Inc., respectively.[43]

In 2004, KPMG agreed to pay $115 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the collapse of software company Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products NV.[44][45]

In 2006, Fannie Mae sued KPMG for malpractice for approving years of erroneous financial statements.[46]

In February 2007, KPMG Germany was investigated for ignoring questionable payments in the Siemens bribery case.[47] In November 2008, the Siemens Supervisory Board recommended changing auditors from KPMG to Ernst & Young.[48]

In March 2008, KPMG was accused of enabling "improper and imprudent practices" at New Century Financial, a failed mortgage company,[49] and KPMG agreed to pay $80 million to settle suits from Xerox shareholders over manipulated earnings reports.[50]

It was announced in December 2008 that two of Tremont Group's Rye Select funds, audited by KPMG, had $2.37 billion invested with the Madoff "Ponzi scheme."[51] Class action suits were filed.[52]

In August 2010, it was reported by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority to the Swedish accountancy regulator after HQ Bank was forced into involuntary liquidation after the Financial Supervisory Authority revoked all its licences for breach of banking regulations.[53]

In August 2011, KPMG conducted due diligence work on Hewlett Packard's $11.1 billion acquisition of the British software company Autonomy. In November 2012 HP announced an $8.8 billion write off due to "serious accounting improprieties" committed by Autonomy management prior to the acquisition.[54][55]

According to an independent panel formed to investigate irregular payments made by Olympus which reported in December 2011, KPMG's affiliate in Japan did not identify fraud at the company.[56]

In April 2013, Scott London, a former KPMG LLP partner in charge of KPMG's US Los Angeles-based Pacific Southwest audit practice, admitted passing on stock tips about clients, including Herbalife, Skechers, and other companies, to his friend Bryan Shaw, a California jewelry-store owner.[57] In return Shaw gave London $70,000 as well as gifts that included a $12,000 Rolex watch and concert tickets.[58][57] On May 6, Shaw agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He also agreed to pay around $1.3 million in restitution, and to cooperate with the government as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.[59] This scandal led KPMG to resign as auditor for Herbalife and Sketchers.[60]

In 2015, KPMG was accused by the Canada Revenue Agency of tax evasion schemes: "The CRA alleges that the KPMG tax structure was in reality a 'sham' that intended to deceive the taxman."[61]

In 2016, the Canada Revenue Agency was found to have offered an amnesty to KPMG clients caught using an offshore tax-avoidance scheme on the Isle of Man.[62]

In 2017, KPMG terminated five partners in its audit practice, including the head of its audit practice in the US, after an investigation of advanced confidential knowledge of planned audit inspections by its Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.[63][64] This followed criticism about KPMG's failure to uncover illegal sales practices at Wells Fargo or potential corruption at FIFA, the governing international body of soccer.[64] It was reported in 2017 that KPMG had the highest number of deficiencies, among the Big Four, cited by its regulator in the previous two years.[65]

In 2017, KPMG paid a $6.2 million fine to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for inadequacies in its audit of the financial statements of oil and gas company, Miller Energy Resources.[66]

In November 2017, 91 partners of KPMG faced contempt proceedings in Hong Kong High Court, as China Medical Technologies (CMED) liquidators investigating a $400 million fraud took action against KPMG with regard to its refusal honor a February 2016 court order to produce Chinese working papers, correspondence, and records to the liquidators.[67][68][69][70][71] The liquidators are asking that 91 defendants be held in contempt of court, which could result in criminal penalties, or weekly fines.[67] KPMG had issued written audit reports for CMED from 2003 to 2008, and was replaced by PwC Zhong Tian in August 2009.[68] "Perhaps locking up 91 KPMG partners over Christmas may spur the firms to find a solution to this problem", said Professor Paul Gillis of Peking University's Guanghua School of Management.[67]

Carillion[edit]

In January 2018 it was announced that KPMG, auditor of collapsed UK construction firm Carillion, would have its role examined by the Financial Reporting Council,[72] and it was summoned to give evidence before two House of Commons select committees on 22 February 2018.[73]

On 13 February 2018, the 'Big 4' accountancy firms, including KPMG, were described by MP Frank Field as "feasting on what was soon to become a carcass" after collecting fees of £72m for Carillion work during the years leading up to its collapse.[74] KPMG was singled out for particular criticism for signing off Carillion's last accounts before a profit warning in July 2017: "Either KPMG failed to spot the warning signs, or its judgement was clouded by its cosy relationship with the company and the multimillion-pound fees it received," said MP Rachel Reeves.[74] Two out of three former Carillion finance directors had also worked for KPMG.[74]

KPMG defended itself, saying that in the construction industry "an accumulation of adverse events [...] can quite quickly cause a precipitous decline." KPMG chairman and senior partner Bill Michael said: "It does not follow automatically from a company collapse either that the opinion of management was wrong, or that the auditor did a bad job."[74]

On 22 February 2018, MPs contested evidence from KPMG (in one exchange MP Peter Kyle told KPMG partner Peter Meehan: "I would not hire you to do an audit of the contents of my fridge").[75] Rachel Reeves, chair of the business select committee, said:

Auditing is a multi-million-pound business for the Big Four. On this morning's evidence from KPMG and Deloitte, these audits appear to be a colossal waste of time and money, fit only to provide false assurance to investors, workers and the public. [...] Carillion staff and investors could see the problems at the company but those responsible - auditors, regulators, and, ultimately, the directors – did nothing to stop Carillion being driven off a cliff.[76]

Described as "excoriating" and "damning" (The Guardian),[77] the final report of the Parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of Carillion was published on 16 May 2018. It criticised KPMG for its "complicity" in the company's financial reporting practices:

KPMG audited Carillion for 19 years, pocketing £29 million in the process. Not once during that time did they qualify their audit opinion on the financial statements, instead signing off the figures put in front of them by the company's directors. Yet, had KPMG been prepared to challenge management, the warning signs were there in highly questionable assumptions about construction contract revenue and the intangible asset of goodwill accumulated in historic acquisitions. These assumptions were fundamental to the picture of corporate health presented in audited annual accounts. In failing to exercise—and voice—professional scepticism towards Carillion's aggressive accounting judgements, KPMG was complicit in them. It should take its own share of responsibility for the consequences[78]

The select committee chairs (Frank Field and Rachel Reeves) called for a complete overhaul of Britain's corporate governance regime, saying the government had "lacked the decisiveness or bravery" to do so, accused the big four accounting firms of operating as a "cosy club", with KPMG singled out for its "complicity" in signing off Carillion's "increasingly fantastical figures".[77]

KPMG said:

We believe we conducted our audit appropriately. However, it's only right that following a corporate collapse of such size and significance, the necessary investigations are performed. Auditing large and complex businesses involves many judgments and we will continue to cooperate with the FRC's ongoing investigation. ... We welcome any future review of our profession. If we consider how the profession has changed in the last decade […] it is clear there is a need for us to look closely at our business models.[77]

In a June 2018 report on audit standards across eight accounting firms, the FRC identified "failure to challenge management and show appropriate scepticism across their audits." It highlighted a decline in the quality of work undertaken by the Big Four, with KPMG performing the worst. There had, the FRC said, been an "unacceptable deterioration" in the quality of KPMG's work, and the FRC would scrutinise KPMG more closely as a result.[79]

2017 South African corruption scandal[edit]

In 2017, KPMG was embroiled in related scandals involving the Gupta family.[80] KPMG, whose history in South Africa dated back to 1895, and which had been part of the international organization since its founding in 1979,[81] faced calls for closure, and an uncertain future, as a consequence of the damage done to the South African economy as a result of its activities.[82][83]

KPMG had been working with a Gupta family company in the mining sector, Oakbay Resources and Energy, for 15 years prior to the revelations of corruption and collusion in 2016, at which point KPMG resigned. The full impact and financial profit that KPMG received is yet to be determined;[84] however, at least one large company has terminated its services with KPMG due to its relationship with Oakbay.[85]

In July 2017, after controversial documents were leaked by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, former chief executive of KPMG South Africa and the former partner that was responsible for audits related to the Gupta family, Moses Kgosana, withdrew from becoming the chairman of Alexander Forbes, a financial services firm.[86][87]

In 2015, KPMG issued a controversial report that implicated former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in the creation of an illegal intelligence gathering unit of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This report was seen by elements of the media to be part of a wider Gupta-linked state capture conspiracy, with the aim of forcing Gordhan out of his post.[88] The report was withdrawn by KPMG in September 2017,[89] earning the ire of the Commissioner of SARS, Tom Moyane.[90]

After an internal investigation that found work done for the Gupta family fell "considerably short" of the firm's standards and amid rising political and public backlash, KPMG's senior leadership in South Africa, including its chairman Ahmed Jaffer, CEO Trevor Hoole, COO Steven Louw, and five partners, resigned in September 2017.[91][92]

Save South Africa, a civil-society group, accused KPMG and UK PR firm Bell Pottinger of playing a "central role in facilitating state capture."[93] Numerous South African companies either fired KPMG in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, or were reconsidering their relationships with the firm [94] with the international chairman of KPMG, John Veihmeyer, apologising for the conduct of the South African arm[95] and the firm pledged to donate fees earned from Gupta businesses, as well as the withdrawn SARS report to anti-corruption activities.[96]

Sponsorship[edit]

KPMG Europe headquarters in the Squaire building at Frankfurt Airport

The Swedish member firm was main sponsor for Swedish biathlete Magdalena Forsberg, six-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. Forsberg was working as a tax consultant at the KPMG Sundsvall office parallel to her athletic career.[97]

Phil Mickelson wearing KPMG hat

In February 2008, Phil Mickelson, ranked one of the best golfers in the world, signed a three-year global sponsorship deal with KPMG. As part of the agreement, Mickelson was to wear the KPMG logo on his headwear during all golf related appearances.[98]

The Canadian member firm sponsored Alexandre Bilodeau, who won the first gold medal for Canada on home soil in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Alexandre's father is a tax partner in the Montreal office.[99][100]

KPMG and McLaren Technology Group have formed a strategic alliance to apply McLaren Applied Technologies' (MAT) predictive analytics and technology to KPMG's audit and advisory services. McLaren 2015 Formula 1 car has the KPMG logo engraved above the pilot seat.[101]

Awards[edit]

KPMG ranked in the top 2 overall in Consultancy Rankings 2009 by OpRisk & Compliance – in recognition of KPMG's experience in risk management.[102]

In 2011, the company was ranked second on the World's Best Outsourcing Advisors – in recognition of the firm's depth of experience, global reach and holistic approach.[103] That same year, the company was inducted into Working Mother Hall of Fame after being honored for 15 years as one of Working Mother magazine's 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.[31] KPMG was ranked number 13 in Consulting Magazine's Best Firms to Work for in 2016.[104]

In 2017, KPMG was ranked 29th on Fortune list of 100 best companies to work for.[105] That same year, KPMG, along with PwC, Deloitte, and PA Consulting Group, were among the UK's 25 top companies to work for.[106]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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