KPMG’s former UK pensions advisory practice rebrands as Isio

03 March 2020 3 min. read
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At the end of 2019, KPMG confirmed it had consented to the management buyout of its UK pensions advisory wing. Now, as the newly independent entity looks to build for the future, it has announced its operations will rebrand as Isio for its UK launch.

In Summer 2019, it first emerged that KPMG was flirting with the idea of offloading its pensions consulting unit. The practice employs about 20 Partners and 500 staff, working for some of UK’s largest pension companies, and holding around £50 billion of pension assets under advice. The move came as part of a host of changes at the Big Four firm – which had also announced plans to slash its Partner headcount amid stagnating profit levels – and the story developed extremely quickly.

After initially holding discussions with a number of interested parties – including Lane Clark & Peacock and Duff & Phelps – by October KPMG had picked out a viable candidate for exclusive merger & acquisition talks to purchase its pensions advisory practice. According to Sky News, Exponent Private Equity – an investor that has previously backed companies such as vegetarian food producer Quorn and Loch Lomond Distillery – was expected to be chasing a deal worth in excess of £200 million. Just over a month later, news broke that the private equity group had sealed the deal to finance a management buyout.

Andrew Coles, CEO - isio

Bill Michael, Chairman of KPMG, said if the news, “We have been proud to have had such a strong pensions business here in the UK, but we recognise that Exponent are now the right partners to support a long-term growth strategy. The transaction will allow us to continue our programme of investment in the core audit, tax, deals and consulting services offered to our clients.”

The agreement saw KPMG sign a conditional agreement with NewCo, a vehicle through which all the staff employed at KPMG’s pensions arm would carry on the business once the sale completed – installing KPMG UK Head of Pensions Andrew Coles as NewCo’s Chief Executive Officer. Now, as the organisation prepares for its future as an independent consultancy, the firm has rebranded as part of its national launch.

The newly named Isio launches across eight locations in Britain, holding onto its 20 Partners and 500 staff. Coles is joined in the company’s leadership by Roger Siddle, an experienced private equity portfolio chairman with a background in professional services leadership, who has been named Chair of the new company.

Amid regulatory change and market conditions in the UK, there is an increased demand for independent professional counsel. Isio already advises more than 1,000 clients, ranging from mid-sized companies to FTSE 100s, on the management of pension assets worth over £90 billion. It will look to build on this by offering clients a combination of actuarial expertise, third party administration, investment consulting and defined contribution specialisms.

CEO Coles remarked, “As an independent practice we can predict and respond to client opportunities and challenges with greater agility. Backed by proprietary technology, our team brings deep technical expertise, and an entrepreneurial culture. The industry is at a turning point and our belief is that pensions advice needs to adapt to the new world, with technology playing a key part in improving the member experience, the quality of data and the modelling of pension outcomes. With Exponent’s partnership, we will take Isio to the next level of growth and success.”