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September 27, 2023

You Know Things Are Bad at EY When Its US and Global CEOs Are Beefing

a brown cow in a green pasture
Kelly Grier

We now know the reason, courtesy of the Financial Times, why Kelly Grier decided not to seek a second term as EY US chair and managing partner and Americas managing partner. Apparently there’s no love lost between her and Carmine Di Sibio, EY global chairman and CEO.

FT reported today:

The head of EY’s US business quit the big four accounting firm after a power struggle with its global boss, underlining the tensions between the group’s competing fiefdoms as it considers a radical plan to break itself up.

Kelly Grier, the first woman to lead EY in the US, clashed with global chief executive Carmine Di Sibio over the influence her business should wield within the firm’s international operations, said four people familiar with the matter.

The two also disagreed over how much the US firm, by far the biggest in EY’s international operations, should pay to fund EY Global, the people added.

Carmine Di Sibio

The article states the tension between Grier and Di Sibio started well before the accounting world learned last week about EY possibly splitting its audit and advisory businesses worldwide so there would be no conflicts of interest between the auditing and consulting services the firm provides to clients. If that were to happen, and it’s far from a done deal (it would have to be voted on and approved by EY partners across the globe), two giant professional services firms would be created. One would most likely keep the EY name and the other would get a new name. Synerage, anyone?

FT reported that Grier was seen as a contender to replace Di Sibio as global chair and CEO when his first four-year term ends in June 2023. But …

Grier — also EY’s chair and managing partner of the Americas region, the largest of its three geographical segments — overplayed her hand in trying to position herself as Di Sibio’s successor, said some of the people with knowledge of the tensions between the pair.

“She flew too close to the sun and got her wings burnt,” said one.

Di Sibio remains “well-connected to the US partnership”, meaning Grier may have struggled to win re-election [as EY US chair and managing partner] had she put herself forward, said another person briefed on the matter.

Two ex-EY employees who recently left the firm told me today that neither knew of any kind of quarrel between Grier and Di Sibio, but both basically said the same thing: it gives more context as to why Grier decided not to seek another term.

Grier’s term officially ends on June 30. Julie Boland, current EY vice chair and managing partner of the firm’s Central Region, will succeed Grier beginning July 1.

EY’s US boss quits after clashing with global chief of Big Four firm [Financial Times]

Related article:

EY US Chair Kelly Grier Will Not Seek a Second Term

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