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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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