KPMG appoints Mary O'Connor as new UK risk leader

30 July 2018

Following mounting pressure from auditing watchdogs relating to a string of accounting scandals, Big Four firm KPMG has appointed a new Chief Risk Officer in its UK arm. Mary O’Connor arrives from Willis Towers Watson, and will become part of KPMG’s Executive Committee and the UK Board.

KPMG has created a new position to oversee both its risk and legal operations in the UK, while the Big Four firm grapples with a string of damaging accounting scandals and the resulting scrutiny from regulators that it has brought. A spokesperson for KPMG told the UK press that the creation of the new role was unrelated to the scandals, and part of a “long-term investment plan,” although it comes as the firm works to shrug off a period of intense criticism. This included new measures in June, when the Financial Reporting Council took unprecedented steps to monitor the auditing work of KPMG, citing a decline in the quality of audits by the Big Four as a whole but singling out KPMG in particular for closer scrutiny, with a quarter of all audits by the firm to be examined by the watchdog for the current financial year.

Until now, roles monitoring KPMG’s risk and legal functions have been kept separate. However, while the firm attempts to steady its ship following a rocky period, the professional services firm said it had appointed Mary O’Connor as its Chief Risk Officer for its UK arm, in a newly combined role which will “oversee the firm’s risk management framework, including quality and risk management and the legal function.” O’Connor is an internationally recognised technical risk and regulatory expert, with a CV boasting extensive experience in advising C-suite clients in relation to all aspects of risk.

KPMG appoints Mary O'Connor as new UK risk leader

When O’Connor assumes her new office in August, she will arrive from consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, where she has held the role of Global Head of Financial Institutions Industry – acting as Chief Executive Officer with responsibility for Willis Towers Watson’s world-wide practice in relation to all financial services clients – following a six year spell with the company. Prior to this, she served as a senior regulator in both the US and the UK, including four years with the Financial Services Authority, where she latterly held the position of Head of Approved Persons. David Matthews, the current Head of Quality and Risk at KPMG UK, will stay on in the role to hand over to O’Connor, before moving to a strategic projects role, according to a KPMG release. 

Commenting on the change, Bill Michael, KPMG UK’s Chairman, said the group was investing in its “risk management processes and procedures”, adding that “the risks we are facing are evolving” and “societal expectations of large businesses are also shifting”.

Michael added, “Mary is a high calibre leader in her field and I am delighted to welcome her to KPMG. Like any professional services firm we are operating in a period of significant change, and the risks we are facing are evolving – from complex regulatory and geopolitical change to providing new technology based services for our clients. Societal expectations of large businesses are also shifting, particularly for firms which have a public interest responsibility. It’s therefore essential that we continually invest in our risk management processes and procedures and seek fresh insights as to how risks are anticipated and managed.”


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Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of partners

18 April 2019

Three senior level consultants have been boosted to the rank of Partner at Quantum Advisory, as the firm works to meet heightened levels of client demand. Aled Edwards, Amanda Burdge and Chris Heirene become Partners as long-time Quantum member Rob Davies retires in May after 15 years as a Partner at the firm.

Founded in 2000, Quantum Advisory provides pension and employee benefits services to employers, scheme trustees and members, with five offices across the UK. The firm has enjoyed exponential growth in recent years, following a number of major client wins and booming demand for its services. It opened a new office in Bristol in 2016 to service the South West and in 2017 relocated its Cardiff office to a larger site within the Welsh capital to house the increased workforce. More recently, Quantum relocated its Amersham, Birmingham and London offices to more spacious premises in the centre of both cities to cope with demand.

The financial services consultancy, which employs 115 people across the UK, has promoted three senior team members to Partner, as part of its wider growth plans. The firm has moved Aled Edwards from Principal Consultant & Actuary, while Amanda Burdge has ascended from Principal Investment Consultant. Chris Heirene, former IT Manager, has also joined the ten current Partners at Quantum.

Aled Edwards most recently managed the actuarial team within Quantum’s Cardiff office as well as providing technical training for all staff. He boasts more than 17 years of pensions experience. He started his career as an Actuary at Jardine Lloyd Thompson’s Bristol wing, before joining Quantum in 2011. Edwards is also the President of the Welsh Actuarial Society (WAS), which supports actuaries and actuarial students living or working in Wales.

Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of Partners

Amanda Burdge joined Quantum’s team in 2001, as one of the fledgling firm’s first employees. Most recently she was a Principal Investment Consultant with the firm, and with more than a quarter of a century’s experience in the sector, she is responsible for providing investment advice to many of Quantum’s key clients with both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Prior to her time with Quantum, Burdge spent two years as a consultant with SBJ Benefit Consultants (now Capita), and three years with Tesco Pension Trustees. She currently sits on the Regulation Committee for the Pensions Management Institute.

Chris Heirene initially worked with Quantum as an IT Consultant with Teamwork Technology Services and then UES for over five years, before finally joining the firm itself in 2011. He is now responsible for Quantum’s IT systems across all of its offices, including the network and core server infrastructure which supports the business. Heirene is heavily involved in utilising IT to improve and build upon the processes in place throughout Quantum.

David Deidun, Partner at Quantum Advisory, said of the promotions, “This is a very exciting time for Quantum. The recent round of promotions fully recognise the hard work and dedication shown by the three, all of whom go above and beyond for the company. I’ve no doubt that Aled, Amanda and Chris will settle into their new roles with ease and look forward to working together to grow Quantum even further.”

The news comes as Rob Davies retires in May, after spending fifteen years as a Partner at Quantum. A qualified actuary, Davies was instrumental in setting up Quantum’s Investment Division, specialising in aiding clients with their investment strategies. He will remain with the company on a part-time consultancy basis, while working with several clients in the Fiduciary Manager area.