KPMG UK confirms Jon Holt as CEO for second term

22 March 2024 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read
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Jon Holt has seen his tenure as KPMG’s UK chief executive extended to a second term. The decision was backed by a partner vote, following a first three years dominated by efforts to repair the firm’s reputation in the wake of a series of scandals.

When Jon Holt took on the role of UK CEO for KPMG, it might have been seen as something of a poisoned chalice. The Big Four firm was mired in a series of accounting gates – most infamously including alleged failings in its auditing of the collapsed government outsourcer Carillion – while his predecessor Bill Michael had just resigned following controversial remarks leaked to the press. This included ordering informing consultants that he thought diversity-affirming unconscious bias training was “complete and utter crap”.

Indeed, while Holt has tried to move the firm beyond that troublesome period and repair its reputation, the past has haunted him throughout his first term as CEO. In October 2023, for example, the firm was finally stung by a record £21 million fine from the Financial Reporting Council.

KPMG UK confirms Jon Holt as CEO for second term

At the same time, the firm has been enduring financial headwinds that mean, while KPMG’s UK partners earned an average of £746,000, revenue growth slowed to 9% – hitting £2.96 billion, but slower than the 16% of the previous year. As a result, previous reports in the UK press have suggested the firm froze pay for about 12,000 employees in the UK, to solidify its bottom-line. At the same time, Holt’s leadership has presided over a cutting of the UK partnership, which is now less than half the number of  Big Four rival PwC.

In spite of this – and unlike other top firms like McKinsey & Company or Grant Thornton, whose public image crises have seen their bosses come under intense pressure from disgruntled partners in recent years – Holt has seen his tenure readily extended. After a recommendation from the board’s nomination committee, this was approved by a poll of the firm’s 467 remaining equity partners in the UK. The ballot confirms his holding of the top job until September 2029.

Bina Mehta, chair of KPMG UK, commented, “[The vote] is a reflection of the substantial progress he has made to transform our firm and puts us on a strong footing to deliver sustainable growth”.

Looking ahead, Holt will continue to work to move beyond “legacy cases” as he has labelled the firm’s previous scandals. Following his re-election, he stated that 2024 would see the firm “make some big changes”, including the combination of its deals and consulting businesses into one practice called advisory, while also exploring a potential merger with KPMG Switzerland to “give us more collective power to invest and build new services”.