How about one more convo with the KPMG leadership this week? As one commenter mused earlier, the lack of past CEO spreadsheet-side chats were too few and far between so we figure we're doing a you a favor by this passing along. This time around, John Veihmeyer and Henry Keizer kick around lowballing fees, outsourcing and the firm's new paperless audit technology:
Inquisitor 1: Can you talk a little bit more specifically about what we’re doing right now to compete with firms that are reducing their fees so drastically that you have to wonder how they are even covering costs? Keizer: To me, the first and foremost guiding principle is – make sure you’re giving the most absolute best client service. I think to the extent that you do have great service, we’ve got to be able to have very transparent and open discussions with our clients as to what are our economics? Where are we? What is the competitive information? What is market pricing, as opposed to the offer that came in unsolicited? And find a way to meet the objectives of what we need, and what our client needs. Maybe we will, in fact, have to drop a price in, let’s say, our audit offering. But then are able to say, but why can’t we maintain the same or higher KPMG spend? Let’s look at who’s doing your tax compliance work. Let’s look at who’s doing your SAS70? Those types of discussions do allow us to compete successfully without having a case where it’s just about price.
Not sure who transcribed this thing but it'll work for a Friday. First off, Inquisitor numero uno is obviously under the impression that KPMG would never lowball its fees. Even though other people have suggested exactly that. Keizer Soze then reminds his little friend that it's really not about the money, it's about providing the best client service imaginable (sacrificing life, limb and/or dignity) which will result in more work for the firm. It's a self-perpetuating cycle, really.
Inquisitor 2: Is there more plans to outsource positions in the U.S. to India? Veihmeyer: I think as you look across the entire scope of our activities, and I think the most important one is – how do we serve our global clients – making sure that we are competitive in the marketplace and can think about how we execute a lot of our engagements differently to be successful. I think we will continue to look for opportunities to source talent, source resources, source skills, anywhere in the world it makes sense. I don’t see it as exchanging a position here for something offshore. I think we see this as a very key strategy to make sure we are as competitive as we can possibly be in the marketplace—which I think will have one primary impact to the U.S. firm and that is create more opportunities for our people here. And why is that the case? Because we will win more work, we will be competitive in situations that we otherwise wouldn’t be competitive in, if we didn’t have that capability. And that’s what creates opportunities for our people.
In a word: Yes. As for why – Dammit, we're a $20 billion firm (but not really, we're actually a network of independent firms operating under a global cooperative. Ask Tim Flynn; he'll tell you) and our competitors play hard ball. We've got to create other jobs overseas to keep up with those guys. Will that affect you? No chance, Blanche! If it does, it just means your life will be infinitely better because KPMG has business it didn't have before.
Inquisitor 3: eAudIT – how is it going? What challenges have we faced? And how are clients, employees, and recruits receiving the deployment? Keizer: e-AudIT is on track for deployment. We released the software in April, the 2010 version. Training schedules will be rolling out over the next several months. It is the tool that accomplishes three major things. One, it allows us to do things more efficiently. It moves us from a work paper format to a work flow. And lastly, there’s always been a great appetite of our professionals, how do I tap into the knowledge that KPMG has? e-AudIT is the platform now, to actually make that knowledge available to our professionals. I think e-AudIT puts us in front of our competitors in terms of a platform that’s truly the best that’s out there. I believe when we look back, it will be the single most important ingredient to us providing the type of service, meeting our regulatory and professional requirements, and having our people feel good at how we have enabled them to really be high performance professionals.
[Jesus, easy with the rapid fire, Inquisitor tres; Hank isn't a speed listener]. Paperless auditing has moved into KPMG lock, stock and barrel. We're only 10 years into the 21st Century and we're ready to start fixing bugs in this thing for the next ten years. It's far superior to anything the other firms have because you've been training on it over in Monty and we haven't heard a single complaint. Someday you'll be able to tell your grandstaff that this was the absolutely most exciting time to be at KPMG because that was when things got serious.