KPMG tells its 1,000 Scottish staff to prepare for 'future of hybrid working'

Accountancy giant KPMG, which has about 1,000 staff in Scotland, is preparing for a “future of hybrid working” after setting out plans to overhaul its offices and invest in new home working technology.

Catherine Burnet, KPMG’s senior partner in Scotland. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

The Big Four firm said it would introduce “a more flexible way of working”, tailored to individuals’ roles and lives. It will see staff work part of the week from home and part in KPMG offices or at client sites.

The model will also enable the firm greater access to a “broader and diverse workforce”.

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A £44 million programme of investment has been earmarked to transform the firm’s offices and invest in the latest home working kit for staff.

News of the changes came as financial results showed that, despite the pandemic’s impact on seven months of the firm’s financial year, revenue fell by just 4 per cent, to £2.3 billion.

The decrease was driven in part by the sale of the firm’s pensions business, which completed in March. Excluding that disposal, like-for-like revenues were down 2 per cent.

Underlying profit fell 6 per cent, year on year, to £288 million, as a result of the impact of the pandemic on the second half of the financial year. As a result, average partner distribution fell by 11 per cent, from some £640,000 to £572,000, as the firm “prioritised protecting jobs and supporting employees”.

Catherine Burnet, KPMG’s senior partner in Scotland, said: “The unprecedented events of 2020 created challenges for everyone in Scotland.

“Our focus was ensuring the wellbeing of our people, the sustainability of our long-term growth strategy, and helping our clients build their own resilience through a period of great uncertainty.

“We now have more than 1,000 employees at our bases across the country, including our new office at Marischal Square in Aberdeen. Investing in current and future talent is at the heart of our success story.

“As we look to the future, businesses like KPMG have a key role to play in helping to drive a return to sustainable growth in Scotland,” she added.

The firm said it had continued to invest in its workforce, running recruitment and onboarding processes online, hiring more than 900 graduates and apprentices, with 46 per cent located outside of London.

It also made 950 “experienced hires” during the year and recognised internal talent, promoting more than 1,800 people across the business.

As part of the office overhaul plans, space is being repurposed to prioritise meetings, presentations and “informal convening” between colleagues, clients and the firm’s wider networks. Work on the offices will begin in the spring and take place over the course of the year.

Bill Michael, senior partner and chairman of KPMG in the UK, said: “We started the financial year strongly, recording high single digit growth prior to the onset of the pandemic.

“Like many businesses, our performance was then impacted by Covid-19. However, thanks to the hard work of our people, our business has remained resilient and our financial performance robust.”

The chairman’s pay was £1.7m, a reduction of 14 per cent on the prior year.

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