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
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.