LEADERS SURVEY: KPMG Australia CEO Andrew Yates on rebuilding trust, getting your mindset right and ‘KymChat’

Adrian Rauso
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Andrew Yates is the CEO of KPMG Australia
Andrew Yates is the CEO of KPMG Australia Credit: KPMG

Fresh from inking a contract extension KMPG’s Australia boss Andrew Yates is no stranger to stressful situations, but he has a clear way of dealing with it.

“My main method is mindset,” Mr Yates told The Nightly for its Exclusive Leaders survey.

“I try to keep whatever high pressure or negative situation I am in, in context,” he said.

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“Many people are facing far more difficult situations than what we all as individuals face at any particular time, so I try to put what we are doing in that context and not let it overwhelm our approach to the matters at hand.”

On Wednesday Mr Yates’ term at KPMG was extended for three years to 30 June 2027, after taking the top job in the midst of COVID lockdowns in July 2021.

Over a career spanning three decades at KPMG Mr Yates says the best piece of advice he’s been given is to “seek to understand before you seek to be understood”, while his own leadership ethos hinges on going with the flow in a pragmatic way.

“You can’t always control the conditions you are operating in, so you need to be able to adapt and bring people along in periods of uncertainty and change.”

The big four accounting firms have been under the microscope in Australia in response to the PwC tax scandal.

The industry veteran believes the biggest challenge facing the professional services sector is getting the Australian public to trust it again.

“Our profession has always been founded on ethics, integrity and trust, and in the past year there has been a loss of trust in the profession,” Mr Yates said.

“There have been legitimate questions asked about how the profession is governed, structured and regulated, and how conduct and behaviour of professionals is managed.

“Trust will be rebuilt through increasing transparency, communication and accountability and we are focused on that right across the firm.”

Mr Yates — like many other leaders in corporate Australia — sees the proliferation of artificial intelligence as one of the most exciting opportunities for the nation.

He has ensured KPMG Australia fully embraces AI, making it one of the first professional firms globally to access Microsoft technology to create its own AI platform.

“At KPMG Australia we recently launched an internal pilot of a private version of ChatGPT, KymChat,” he said.

“Already we’re seeing huge interest in KymChat from our people, from KPMG firms around the world, and from our clients. We’ve since launched market-facing AI solutions for clients.”

“How our industry manages the safe, ethical and smart adoption of AI will profoundly impact professional services over the next decade.”

In capturing the benefit from AI Mr Yates believes Australia has a productivity challenge to overcome.

“Since Federation, productivity growth has been responsible for almost all the improvement in the living standards of Australians but in the past decade or so it has declined significantly,” he said.

Mr Yates points to rehabilitation in the home after non-life-threatening surgical procedures and aged care as two examples ripe for a productivity overhaul via technology.

“Patients usually prefer to be at home with family members, pets and their own food instead of being institutionalised,” he said.

“Through digital technologies, patients can be monitored constantly and visited regularly, without being confined to hospitals and institutions.

“This would increase the productivity of health and aged-care workers while also increasing the quality of care, a win-win situation.”

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