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Bullied ex-KPMG partners promise new dawn for inclusivity

Two female ex-KPMG partners have vowed to banish the profession’s ‘macho working’ practices that caused them to walk from the Big Four firm, as they set up their rival business. 

9th Sep 2019
KPMG
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Former KPMG partners Maggie Brereton and Ina Kjael intend to bring a “different way of working with greater flexibility in an inclusive culture” to the profession with their new firm EOS Deal Advisory.

Named after the Greek winged goddess of the dawn, the pair hope EOS will help usher in a new dawn and end the “all-nighters” and “macho” working that’s rife in the professions and, in particular, with big firms. 

Unveiling their new firm in an interview with the Financial Times, the duo have already established a culture that's opposed to the “old school way of selling deals” that caused them to resign back in March

Also in the interview, Brereton put a full stop on her KPMG career by vowing to not “waste talent” or inflict after-hours working that shuts out certain sections of the workforce. 

At EOS, the two hope to welcome back minorities and women who no longer feel like they want to work in the deal advisory market. rallied: “We will bring proper diversity into this market," said
Kjaer.

First on the pair’s diversity agenda is the disparity of gender balance, which has been a sticking point for the big accounting firms. EOS plans to tackle this by gunning for a 0% gender pay gap from the get-go. The partners will put this gender balance ambition to the test at the start of next month when the firm starts its recruitment drive, where it is looking to hire 15 individuals. 

EOS is already in talks with several large potential clients, which is a testament to the pulling power and trust Brereton and Kjael have both garnered through their rich history at KPMG. Brereton joined KPMG in 2000 and left as a board member and head of UK transaction services, while the last position Kjael held at KPMG was as the head and integration and separation. 

On their exit, former colleagues and acquaintances lined up to endorse Brereton and Kjael, with AccountingWEB reader hfiddes describing Brereton as “a lovely person and was a real credit to KPMG. They will miss her and people will be falling over themselves to get her.”

Sanjay Thakker, the senior partner at the centre of the bullying allegation, resigned from his role as KPMG’s head of deal advisory and has taken a leave of absence.

Several current and former KPMG employees believe the complaints against Thakker were not taken seriously due to the large amount of revenue the advisory unit brought in. 

Announcing the news on Linkedin, Brereton said: “The time for a new competitor is right after 20 years of limited change in how deals are done.

“We are building a global business that advises clients on their deals, bringing a different way of doing deals - focused on the future value, leveraging technology and senior experience.  

“Our Eyes Wide Open approach to deals focuses on how the future state of the business will be delivered in real life.

We are creating a different way of working with greater flexibility in an inclusive culture.”

This emphasis on an inclusive culture and flexibility is another step away from the always-on culture which has plagued the profession. 

Recent studies have illustrated the effect this culture has had, with a third of accountants admitting in a CABA survey that they feel stressed every day and even checking their emails on annual leave or when they’re sick. It’s statistics like this that explain similar research which found that 40% of senior accountants hate their job

In response to this worrying behaviour, many firms have overhauled their cultures and implemented a more flexible worklife, with trailblazers Farnell Clarke rolling out six-hour days and unlimited holidays.

The Accounting Excellence awards have also recognised the changing attitude of the profession by handing out the inaugural Investing in People award at this year's event.

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By AnnAccountant
09th Sep 2019 20:18

Will they demand their pound of flesh out of their staff - and charge them out at 8-10 times their hourly rate.

That was the source of the pressure I experienced at the Big 4. Nothing to do with any of the issues that tend to hit the media.

It is the greed of the partners that needs to change. Are they purer than others on that score? Or do they want their £500k pa and don't care who suffers for it. That is my rhetorical question.

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By Dandan
10th Sep 2019 13:53

They will probably do exactly the same ; except disguise it all under the umbrella of diversity and inclusivity. At the end of the day , it will be all about money.

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By Sheepy306
10th Sep 2019 16:36

“We will bring proper diversity into this market," said Kjaer.
First on the pair’s diversity agenda is the disparity of gender balance, which has been a sticking point for the big accounting firms. EOS plans to tackle this by “........... for a moment there I thought they were going to say they would appoint 2 male partners. But no.

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By flightdeck
10th Sep 2019 17:51

Good point. Will they be diverse? No reason why they shouldn't be. They quit because they don't like the long hours nor the culture of the big 4 and plenty of men feel the same way so they will attract diverse job applicants. We'll have to wait and see if they build a roughly 50/50 workforce, but why wouldn't they?

I would like to know more about this: “We are building a global business that advises clients on their deals, bringing a different way of doing deals - focused on the future value ... Our Eyes Wide Open approach to deals focuses on how the future state of the business will be delivered in real life". Is this just about up-selling the post deal advisory gig into the pre deal timeframe? Which makes some sense to me - the deal is not the endgame.

This quote from the FT: "Eos Deal Advisory will not pull “all nighters” to meet client deadlines". I like the honesty and I really, really, really wish them well but I worry this is going to come back to haunt them.

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