October 30, 2020

Layoff Watch ’20: KPMG Executive Assistants Were Given an Ultimatum This Week

KPMG Rocks signs held by a woman in a KPMG shirt

We saw this being discussed on the chatter sites earlier this week, but because our website has been hot garbage (as I’m sure many of you noticed) off and on since last Sunday, we couldn’t post anything. However, now that GC is back online and we’ve gotten tips from two sources at KPMG within the past 24 hours, we can tell you guys what we’re hearing about potential layoffs coming at the House of Klynveld.

During a call earlier this week, apparently the approximately 900 to 1,000 executive assistants at KPMG were asked to consider taking a voluntary separation package by Sept. 22, according to one source. If they don’t leave their jobs voluntarily, they put themselves at risk of leaving their jobs involuntarily after KPMG’s fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

That source also told us that KPMG is opening 60 positions in ASK, a centralized administrative service, to deal with the influx of managers and senior managers who will no longer have administrative support. BUT! EAs would have to apply for those open jobs in ASK, and we were told those positions are being publicly posted, so external folks could get some of those spots, too.

We also heard that executive assistants could possibly stay on as “field EAs” (dedicated to a team) and support only partners and managing directors.

A second source said this about the ultimatum KPMG gave executive assistants:

That wouldn’t be so unexpected except: a. They told our managers on Monday, and us on Tuesday, and b. the deadline to voluntarily sign up for severance is Tuesday. That’s right, one week to decide whether to completely upend our lives.

Here are some “other issues” this source provided us on what EAs were (and weren’t) told earlier this week:

  1. They won’t tell us how many people they want to reduce the EA population by, so we don’t know how widespread these cuts will be. I provide a very rough estimate below, but note that leadership is refusing to give any helpful information on the scale expected.
  2. We have to decide how to proceed (either severance or applying for a new job) before having any idea if we are on the chopping block.
  3. Managers and Senior Managers will no longer have dedicated EA support, they will be sending their work to ASK, the centralized administrative services team. Not that the Managers and Senior Managers have any idea about this. And they’re definitely thrilled when we get them. Partners seem to have been left a little in the dark too – many knew there would be layoffs/reductions, but none knew the extent that their support would change.
  4. Even those who do get to stay on as field EAs will have different jobs – all intentionally remote, so they will likely support new people from different geographies, and they will only support Partners and MDs, so the kinds of tasks will change as well.
  5. Bob Goldstein (Director of Something or Other – honestly, I have no idea) [Bob is managing director, integrated operations network] and Vickie Anslyn (Director of Admin Support) stated that the reason for the layoffs was to align with other members of the Big 4/the market and hit Partner/EA ratios similar to other firms. If you look at those ratios, I would guess we are looking at about a 50% reduction in the EA workforce. But don’t worry! They’ve opened up 60 new positions in ASK to take on all the work of all the Managers and Senior Managers in Tax, and some elsewhere. That should cover for the hundreds of EAs they’re looking to layoff, right?
  6. Layoffs and voluntary separations are supposed to take effect in November.

I know we are “just admins” and not accountants, but this is pretty brutal, and it is being handled terribly.

This person also reiterated that executive assistants would have to apply to join ASK and possibly be turned down for one of the open positions. Also:

ASK compensation is based on the Dallas market, because that’s ASK’s homebase (even if all the positions are remote, they’re still coded to Dallas), so could potentially not be viable for someone trying to live in NYC, San Francisco, etc.

This is the third group of non-client-facing KPMGers who have been impacted by layoffs since summer started. In late June, KPMG let go of approximately 350 people in its Digital Nexus group in IT and about 40 people in its marketing department. The firm said both reductions to its workforce had been in the works for about two years and were unrelated to the pandemic.

And rumor has it that layoffs impacting client-facing KPMGers are on the horizon due to a lack of turnover and headcount being above where it should be.

We reached out to KPMG for comment about what is going on with executive assistants. We’ll continue to update this article as we get more information.

Related articles:

Layoff Watch ’20: Some KPMG IT Folks Were Told Their Services Are No Longer Needed
Layoff Watch ’20: About 40 People In KPMG’s Marketing Department Got Some Bad News to Start the Week
Comp Watch ’20: Here’s What We Know About Raises This Year at KPMG

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22 Comments

  1. Vicky Anslyn is a big fat disgusting liar, telling EA’s to send work to the ASK team, assuring us that ASK wouldn’t take our jobs. She knew full well that was not true. She outright lied. She should run for Congress. She’ll for right in.

  2. I am a senior manager in anotherbig four and I can confirm that managers and senior managers don’t get dedicated EAs and I have not seen that in past 8 years at least.

    1. The Managers and Senior Managers losing support are primarily Tax. Audit and Advisory have been using this system for a while (with some exceptions). But in most offices, all tax managers had EAs, and many EAs support 2-4 P/MDs and up to 10 Mgrs, so it’s a significant change in the model and the workforce numbers overall.

  3. Advisory has been using a shared EA pool for managers and above since forever and it’s really not a big deal. I never even use the shared pool. Even Advisory partners share EAs. I have no idea why a Tax manager would need a dedicated EA and am stunned to learn this is even a thing. Seems like a no brainer.

  4. Wow!! Not surprised and glad I jumped ship and never looked back. Always have been disgusted by the inhumane treatment of non-client facing employees at KPMG.

  5. This has been in the works for years. Bobby Goldstein has been trying to eliminate part of the EA population for a very long time. Don’t believe that the firm now wants to better align with other Big 4. That makes no sense as being one of the reasons. If you never worked at KPMG you wouldn’t understand that the firm is really split in two; client facing employees and ION. ION employees are treated like children who do not matter and the ION leadership has built layers and layers of supervisors/managers above the ones who really do all the work; the EA’s! It’s a joke! The only good thing I see is that the managers for administrative support services will be eliminated soon followed by office managers.

  6. I was an executive assistant at Deloitte for 2 years. During those 2 years, they created a huge executive coordination center in Dallas, where those administrative employees supported PPMDs from Dallas. They stopped hiring EAs locally, and all FY 18 and FY 19 promotions into the PPMD level were routed to that center. The Dallas center had 120 “executive coordinators”, and they were in talks of opening another center. I saw where my position was heading, and luckily got out last year before we were forced out.
    I’m not surprised to hear that KPMG would follow suit, and I actually do believe that they were probably working on this for the last year or so. However, it sounds like it could have been handled much more professionally… But that’s the big four for you.

  7. As an employee I can attest that this is all true. It’s very unfortunate and sad that they are doing this during these times but as you can tell the little people who hold this company up mean nothing to them. Meanwhile, partners and MDS are being promoted.

  8. “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
    -Winston Churchill-

    This is all about who is on top of the Big 4 after this global “plandemic” is over. It’s utterly disgusting.
    ASK has been around for a long time but had not been enforced. Entitled associates all the way up to senior managers took advantage of EAs in the tax and audit departments. EA managers were hired in 2017 against the beliefs of most people in the firm. They are pretty much useless. KPMG built out several new offices in the last few years now they want EAs to stay at home. All the in office EA duties are going to fall into the laps of operation services employees who already get treated like children.
    ION leadership needs to be fired immediately for making mistakes leading up to this EA ultimatum.

    1. EA managers are the MOST USELESS (CF). As far as ION leadership, Bobby G. has been doing this crap his entire career. HE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT ANYONE!!!!!!! I just can’t imagine the partners agreed to this messaging. What has happened to the integrity of the firm?

  9. 80% of the admins at KPMG are worthless at their jobs. Good riddance and good luck finding work elsewhere where you can online shop and play solitaire all day

    1. I do agree. I am a current KPMG employee but not in the EA role any more. I used to be and it was a frustrating situation as 80% do not work (online shopping, sleeping, just walking around the office) and the rest of us worked 50 hours doing everything from contracts, budget, MSAs, SOWs, risk management, travel, calendar, marketing, proposal and drafting e-mails for partners on behalf without eating lunch most of the time. I do not see many partners mind the new model, except Tax.

  10. This is so sad, because the Assistants at KPMG thought that they were meeting their performance standards by sending their work to ASK. They were encouraged to send as much as work as they could to ASK and it was in accordance with their performance reviews. Actually One Assistant within the Chicago area was considered a champion because she sent 98% of her work to ASK. What a stab in the back. I feel so bad for the Assistants there, they were truly deceived.

  11. KPMG is one of the most racist company’s I have ever worked for. After the murder of George Floyd leadership flooded our email with talk of being better and transparent (a load of crap). They recently released their list of new Partners/MD’s NOT ONE AFRICAN AMERICAN! How do you layoff people and continue to hire at the same time? This company cares about numbers only, not people.

    After the layoff of the EA’s the company will look just like they want it to look – WHITE, WHITE, WHITE!

    1. I’m gonna have to disagree with you. Just because they didn’t hire AA Partners/MDs does not mean they are racist. It should be merit based, there are a lot of people of color (Indian, Asian, African American, etc.) in leadership at KPMG.

      1. That’s a weak response given what is going on. There are plenty of ethnicities at KPMG that do not necessarily meet the requirement of their positions so don’t say that there is equity among promotions of partner/md levels this year. And if you worked there you would know!

  12. Looks like the EAs didn’t fall for the okey doke and apply for the ASK positions; so KPMG put out an email extending the deadline to apply.

    Also, if you are asked to leave in October you are expected to train your replacement…good luck with that!

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