KPMG in massive consulting overhaul with 200 jobs to go

Simone Grogan
The Nightly
the Big Four accounting firm employs about 10,000 people across the country.
the Big Four accounting firm employs about 10,000 people across the country. Credit: Viki Lascaris/Fairfax

KPMG will move on a massive overahul of its consulting division that could result in some 200 senior staff losing their jobs for a cost-saving of about $80 million.

The Big Four accounting firm employs about 10,000 people across the country, and revealed the massive divisional shake-up on Friday. It’s the latest in a string of redundancies across the Australian professional services industry following a global slowdown in the sector.

“The traditional ways of working, and some of the legacy assessment and advice services our firm has offered the market are no longer in the same demand. We must now make a rapid, foundational shift to our business to adapt to this generational change.,” KPMG’s national managing partner of consulting Paul Howes said.

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Broadly the restructure will see KPMG shift towards consulting clients on “emerging technologies”, including artificial intelligence, in a shift away from more traditional, management consulting.

Staff in the consulting division have been made aware of the looming changes and a consultation period is expected to follow.

“There will be around 250 roles impacted in some way,” Mr Howes said. “Some teams will transition to other divisions of the firm, and we will be looking to redeploy and upskill as much as possible into areas of high demand, ensuring people with the right skills are in the right places. Regrettably, there will also be redundancies.”

It’s part of a general industry shift that is “not unique” to Australia but in “lockstep” with the way KPMG’s international counterparts are working, the firm said on Friday.

The change is also a bet on future demand for new technologies and the need for support introducing them to workplaces.

“This is not about minor adjustments, but about flipping our business to have a strong focus on transformation - utilising emerging technologies, including AI,” Mr Howes said.

KPMG estimates the restructure will save about $80m on an annualised basis. People whose jobs are affected will know by June 21 and the full strategy will be finalised in August. Any impact to roles in specific States is not yet known.

Fellow Big Four accountants have also moved on large rounds of redundancies in the past 12 months, following a big hiring spree that took place across the sector in the pandemic era.

More than 330 jobs have gone from EY Australia following two rounds of layoffs. The most recent was in May when about 100 people were made redundant.

Fellow professional services firm PwC dished out about 400 redundancies at the start of March following a post-tax leaks scandal review. That restructure sought to position the embattled audit and accounting firm for softer revenues and life after the sale of its government consulting arm.

A Senate inquiry into Australia’s consulting industry this week concluded with a report urging the Government introduce stricter rules on self-regulating professional standards organisations.

The committee also wants the Federal public service to report twice-yearly on spending on consultants of more than $2 million.

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