Let’s face it, 2019 hasn’t been the best year for the Queen’s Grant Thornton, and neither was 2018. Let’s recap:
- Stopped bidding for new audit work at the largest U.K. companies.
- Patisserie Valerie accounting fraud; Grant Thornton was the auditor and is under investigation by the Finanical Reporting Council.
- Fined £3 million by the FRC for “misconduct” relating to its audits of Vimto-maker Nichols and the University of Salford. Four auditors were also fined.
- A mutiny among a small group of partners caused Sacha Romanovitch to announce in October that she wouldn’t seek a second four-year term as GT CEO.
- The firm’s revenue actually dropped, from £500 million in 2017 to £491 million, and profits fell 8% to £72 million.
- Average pay per partner decreased 8%, from £403,000 in 2017 to £373,000.
- Fell from the fifth-largest to the sixth-largest accounting firm in the U.K.
- CEO David Dunckley said some nonsense in January about it not being the auditor’s role to uncover fraud.
- Laid off about 60 administrative employees in March/April, mostly staff who had roles in brand, marketing, and communications, as well as staff in people and client experience functions.
- The FRC said in July that GT is being “placed under increased scrutiny due to sustained poor results” in audit quality. In total, 26% of GT’s audits reviewed in the past five years have required significant improvement.
Now we have another bullet point to add under 2019:
- Laid off a dozen partners in October.
The Financial Times had the scoop:
The accounting firm informed its top echelon that about 12 partners — 6 per cent of the total — were leaving as it attempts to improve profits and recover from a difficult year for the business, which has faced scrutiny over its audits of Patisserie Valerie and after the controversial departure of Sacha Romanovitch, its former chief executive.
The internal announcement about the partners, some who have worked at Grant Thornton for 30 years, was made ahead of its financial results, which are due to be published in December.
One of the more senior partners who was let go, according to FT, was Mark Henshaw, who had been with the firm since 1989, his LinkedIn profile shows.
Partners in all service lines, including audit and advisory, were affected by the cuts. Jonathan Riley, head of quality and reputation at Grant Thornton, told FT that the departures represented “a combination of factors, including early retirement and some people whose roles no longer exist because of recent restructures and a change of focus around our client base generally.”
As FT noted, Grant Thornton will announce its revenue and profit for 2019, as well as average pay per partner, in December. Something tells me we could very well have two more bullet points to add to this craptastic year at GT.