November 30, 2020

Question of the Day: Is EY the New KPMG?

For as long as I can remember, KPMG has always been the butt of Big 4 jokes: Big 3 + KPMG, a golf apparel company masquerading as a Big 4 firm, the red-headed stepchild of the profession, always a bridesmaid and never a bride, Scott London, Caleb worked there, etc.

But with the whole “pancakes and waffles” training debacle, calling itself the Harvard of the Big 4, being the audit firm of several companies going down the tubes lately due to scandals, and going to unlimited PTO to eliminate employees’ “entitlement mentality,” has EY replaced KPMG as the clown of the Big 4?

This post on Fishbowl today is the reason why I ask:

So is it now Big 3 + EY? Or is this ridicule of EY just temporary and KPMG will always be the Ringo of the Big 4?

Discuss.

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34 Comments

  1. I’m confused. So it’s:

    1. Deloitte
    2. PwC

    3. EY
    3. KPMG

    But if EY is KPMG, and KPMG doesn’t have unlimited PTO (yet), and didn’t use lie about using performance reviews to mask COVID layoffs, then where does that actually put KPMG? Certainly not as bad as EY.

    Not that I’m defending KPMG… I’ve seen the 1990s technology, low-quality deliverables, all the management fads, horrible people promoted to leadership roles based on sales only, first hand. This article is just a weird take.

      1. > KPMG most certainly did mask the recent
        > COVID layoffs and lied to cut the low performers.

        Really?

        The first layoffs in 2020 were announced on 29 September (effective 2 weeks later).

        Had nothing to do with performance. 4% were let go at, from what I saw, directors and on down. I neither heard or saw any grumblings about performance reviews a la what went down at EY.

        What is this ‘masking’ you speak of?

        1. Yeah, layoffs were based primarily on location and how long someone had been with the firm. Ten percent bonus, severance, and paid PTO was pretty good.

  2. This is such a non-sensical article.
    Let’s talk about numbers. KPMG has had an impressive financial years and they have demonstrated a strong stance about doing the right thing. Their proactiveness in reporting any violations to the SEC, they commitment to their revised values and behaviors, providing severance for layoffs which we have seen across the Big4 and well for now not following EY’s silly unlimited PTO policy.

    1. KPMG did not self report. The bad behaviors were either reported through internal whistleblower, or in case of the training matter, it was discovered as part of an unrelated investigation by PCAOB. KPMG would have have hidden it as much as it could. So, there is no proactiveness here. On top of this, more than 50% of the employees got caught (relating to the training matter) and if they were cheated more than 10 times, then KPMG gave them a very soft slap on the wrist. Up until then, I didn’t know there is a threshold for unethical behavior, but KPMG proved everything is possible.

      1. > then KPMG gave them a very soft slap on the wrist.

        This is true. Also not counting the fine for the PCAOB foolishness was missing at least one zero.

        Nothing really changed other than we have quarterly — rather than annual, ethics training now. I spent 20 hours on that shit last year. It’s still BAU otherwise.

        But the Firm pats itself on the back for its leadership in leveraging additional requirements on an already overworked staff and staff who didn’t have ethical lapses in the first place.

        1. Wasn’t KPMG the auditor of GE for over 100 years? GE missed s lot with troubled GE, not to mention many failed accounts all over the world. I am not condemning or defending. I worked at PwC and PwC has had its troubled accounts and Bad apples like Brad Mescher and Robera Chmielnik who looked out for their own interest at the expense of good, talented staff.

    2. Explain how EY’s PTO policy is silly. Unlimited PTO should be standard in Public Accounting with the hours we all work.

      Nobody cares that KPMG had an impressive fiscal year when they cut 5% of the fucking US workforce, cut all matching benefits in half, take away all comp bumps and bonuses, plus all the fringe benefits… Unless you’re a partner or about to be admitted into the partnership. But you know, “thanks for all your hard work”.

      1. Unlimited PTO doesnt mean what you think it means buddy. Theres literally no upside for the employees – they dont get “more PTO” as the name would suggest. If anything, I would assume that there will be less PTO taken overall. Let’s see how that trends this year…

  3. This is the dumbest post I’ve seen on here. Must have run out of material to write about so spent all day coming up with this

  4. All good fun until you work for all of them and can compare.
    EY knowledge platform – OK, not McKinsey or BCG level but ok (actually fixed with an ex McKinsey)
    Pwc knowledge platform – complete bullshit
    Deloitte knowledge platform – somewhat worse than Pwc
    KPMG platform – wait, what?

  5. First and foremost, this is a dumb post and not sure why I even got it recommended in news feed…

    To the point, the Big 4 are all clowns and should be the butt of every joke. One of them making fun of another is like the pot calling the kettle black. I don’t know why they are known as “the best professional services companies,” but from my personal experience, that’s miles off target. If I ever need such services, I would go for much smaller companies.

    I should preface this with the fact that the Big 4 are no better or worse than any other corporate enterprise even if they have all grossly mismanaged a lot of accounts, costing people billions of dollars, tens-hundreds of thousands their jobs, etc. That’s why they are getting their accounting and auditing businesses split in UK by regulators. It’s common knowledge by now that when you reach that scale, the quality of work and the level of employees significantly decline.

    I worked in PwC for a few years as a consultant lead software developer on some huge projects with 100+ people. It was my first time working for a large company, let alone a Fortune 500 one, or the Big 4. I had nothing to do with the main accounting or auditing businesses.

    There were a lot of systemic issues that were just being reinforced by the higher-ups, management, and each new hire. There was a sense of complacency and/or weariness where almost noone strived to deliver something high quality but instead just did the bare minimum. Solutions to known issues often either missed the mark entirely or transformed into a grotesque excuse for good PR. Everything was slow and inefficient, and when it didn’t work they would throw more people and money at the problems, often exacerbating them.

    Most of the technical people, and all of the non-technical ones I met, were inept at what they did and at first I had no clue as to how they got to where they were — e.g. IT architects, directors, and partners who have no technical background or knowledge of the subject at hand were left in charge. The senior/leadership people, the ones with the big paychecks, were usually the ones that had stood in the company long enough to climb the corporate ladder/pyramid and were rarely there due to merit. They were always hands-off, rarely joined or participated in calls, or did anything as a whole yet they were supposedly responsible for everything that went wrong, only to blame it on someone else when it did.

    When one person does 20-40 people’s worth of work, it’s not because they are a genius. That was a daily occurrence working there. PwC employees showed they were deluded, lazy, had a superiority complex, and a mentality to look down and talk down to third parties, especially Indian folks, and there was a lot of toxic masculinity going around. The higher the rank of the PwC employee, the worse it would usually be – especially true for US employees, to the point where a partner could fire you on the spot because you looked at them funny without giving you a reason why and telling you to leave immediately without even doing a knowledge transfer.

    A lot didn’t care at all about doing their job. Very few were interested in upskilling, learning, or getting better at what they were doing. The mandatory courses people had to do/learn like security and anti-corruption, they would just copy the answers of whoever did it first. The majority wouldn’t get into the office until after 10am, have a 1-2h lunch break, and leave by 3-4pm. They would be in the office mostly to hang out, chat with others, feign work. Leaving the office at 5pm meant being one of the last people there. In each project/department/domain, there were 1-2 people who carried the load of dozens if not hundreds of people on their shoulders, while those people were just killing time watching videos, listening to music, and playing Minesweeper.

    Despite that complacent, lazy attitude and lack of knowledge/skills, a person who quantifiably did ~1/50-1/100 my work got paid ~6x times more over the same period. For a company that deals with accounting, they had a really tough time staying within budget, being fiscally responsible and efficient, paying a thing’s actual value, or paying based on performance/merit/contributions.

    There was also a crunch culture, depending on what you were working on, but true for me personally and almost all of the projects I was on, and had a super high attrition rate where by the end of a project, most of the capable people who were there at the start would have left due to working conditions, management/leadership, and inept colleagues. I had to have 12-16h calls per day, 7 days a week for several months on end (unpaid overtime), with 1 person dying from a heart attack near the end. Management didn’t care about the well-being or happiness of the employees, nor their personal or career growth. Their job was to get a lot of entry level people, place them on a project, and make people work harder and longer even if that meant decreasing the velocity of work for months to come.

    One thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that for them IT wasn’t a specialty, so you could join after highschool with no experience. Females especially were hired en masse in order to boost female representation. They also cared a lot about the gender pay gap, so a female straight out of a bootcamp or with 0 programming knowledge or experience, who hadn’t yet written their first 1k lines of code, who would need to be held by the hand and have everything dictated to them, would be more likely to get hired and would get paid the same entry level salary as someone with a Comp Sci background, multiple degrees, and hundreds of thousands of lines of code. And it would remain the same for years on end as they would both get the same performance reviews even if one was considered senior and the other junior.

    1. You low-key sound like you have an issue with women, so I’m guessing you contributed to at least some of that toxicity.

  6. The new vacation policy does impact people who get laid off as HR calls you a day or two before month end to tell you that your severance starts in one or two days.

  7. They’re all self-important ego maniacs in tight suits.
    Ego posturing and the ‘client is stupid’ are core values -despite all the marketing CSR BS and ‘positioning’.
    They promote these values to new recruits – and then wonder why toxic behaviour and average deliverables are the result.

  8. Unlimited PTO is just a way to avoid having to pay out earned but unpaid PTO when they fire you. In some States, if there is untaken PTO, they have to pay it to you when they fire you. With unlimited PTO, there is no untaken PTO so there is nothing to pay out – in any State. Think guys. You’re accountants. Can’t you see this coming?

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