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February 2, 2023

KPMG U.K. Gives Its Cost-Cutting Plan a Stupid Codename

If Adrienne and I decide to do a second annual Going Concern Green Eyeshade Awards or Something Like That for 2019, I think we’ve found a winner of the “Dumbest Codename From a Big 4 Firm” award.

From the Financial Times:

KPMG has drawn up plans to save £100m in costs in a profit-boosting exercise codenamed “Project Zebra”.

The Big Four accounting firm has started stripping out expenses from its UK business ahead of its 2019 financial results, which will be published in December.

KPMG U.K.’s revenue and profit results for 2019 could be epically bad. Why else would the firm be getting rid of about a third of its 630 administrative assistants, taking back hundreds of employees’ work-issued mobile phones, apparently slashing average pay per partner by 10% over last year, and be considering 150 other cost-cutting measures?

KPMG told FT that it was “resetting its cost base across the firm,” which could increase its U.K. profits by almost a third. It is also trying to fund a £200m investment in its audit practice over the next two and a half years, mostly on technology and hiring new auditors who won’t suck as badly as the ones the firm has employed in recent years.

But why is KPMG calling its cost-cutting crusade Project Zebra? Who knows. The FT article doesn’t say. Zebras are usually in a circus, and KPMG U.K. is definitely a circus. But why not a lion or an elephant?

Maybe these would be better animal codenames:

Project Wasp: Because KPMG partners are going to feel the sting of average pay per partner reportedly dropping from £601,000 last year to £550,000 in 2019, which puts KPMG behind Deloitte, PwC, and BDO. BDO!!!

Project Flying Pig: You think KPMG will ever become a respected accounting firm in the U.K.? Yeah, when pigs fly!

Project Leech: Because working at KPMG will suck the blood and the life out of you.

Project (INSERT YOURS HERE): Give us your best KPMG animal codename.

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