Swiss Cooperative
Industry Professional services
Founded 1987; 31 years ago (1987)
(merger of Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler)
(Peat Marwick)
1818 (Oldest component: Grace, Darbyshire, & Todd)[1]
  • John Moaxham
  • James Grace
  • James Grace Jr.
  • Henry Grace
  • James Marwick
  • Roger Mitchell
  • Ferdinand William LaFrentz
  • Robert Fletcher
  • William Barclay Peat
  • Frank Wilber Main
  • Piet Klijnveld
  • Jaap Kraayenhof
  • Phillip Derbyshire
  • Gerald Todd
Headquarters Amstelveen, Netherlands[2]
Area served
Key people
Bill Thomas (chairman)[3]
Revenue IncreaseUS$26.40 billion (2017)[4]
Number of employees
188,982 (2016)[5]

KPMG is a professional service company and one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Seated in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, KPMG employs 189,000 people[5] and has three lines of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory. Its tax and advisory services are further divided into various service groups.

The name "KPMG" stands for "Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler." It was chosen when KMG (Klynveld Main Goerdeler) merged with Peat Marwick in 1987.


Early years and mergers

Current KPMG head office in Amstelveen, The Netherlands
15 Canada Square in Canary Wharf, London. The headquarters of KPMG in the UK.
Peat Marwick logo
Headquarters of KPMG LLP, the United States-based member firm of KPMG International, at 345 Park Avenue, New York City
The 34-story KPMG Tower on De Maisonneuve Boulevard in Montreal
The KPMG Tower at 355 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles
KPMG offices at 150 West Jefferson in Detroit
KPMG at the Bay Adelaide West tower in Toronto

The organization's history spanned three centuries. In 1818 John Moxham opened a company in Bristol.[1] James Grace and James Grace Jr. bought John Moaxham & Co. and renamed it James Grace & Son in 1857.[1] In 1861 Henry Grace joined James Jr. and the company was renamed James & Henry Grace.[1]William Barclay Peat joined Robert Fletcher & Co. in London at 17 and became head of the firm in 1891, renamed William Barclay Peat & Co. by then.[6] In 1877 Thomson McLintock founded Thomson McLintock & Co in Glasgow.[6] In 1897 Marwick Mitchell & Co. was founded by James Marwick and Roger Mitchell in New York City. In 1899 Ferdinand William LaFrentz founded the American Audit Co., in New York.[7]

On the other side of the Atlantic, in about 1913, Frank Wilber Main founded Main & Co. in Pittsburgh.[8] In March 1917 Piet Klijnveld and Jaap Kraayenhof opened an accounting firm called Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. in Amsterdam.[6] In 1920 Philipp Derbyshire & Gerald Todd became partners in James & Henry Grace and it was renamed to Grace, Darbyshire, & Todd.[1]

In 1923 The American Audit Company was renamed FW LaFrentz & Co.[7] In 1925 William Barclay Peat & Co. and Marwick Mitchell & Co., merged to form Peat Marwick Mitchell & Company (later known simply as Peat Marwick).[9]

In 1963 Main LaFrentz & Co was formed by the merger of Main & Co and FW LaFrentz & Co. In 1967 Grace, Darbyshire, & Todd merged with CJ Ryland & Co to form Grace, Ryland & Co.[1] In 1969 Thomson McLintock and Main LaFrentz merged forming McLintock Main LaFrentz International [10] and McLintock Main LaFrentz International absorbed the general practice of Grace, Ryland & Co.[1]

In 1979 Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. (Netherlands), McLintock Main LaFrentz (United Kingdom / United States) and Deutsche Treuhandgesellschaft (Germany) formed KMG (Klynveld Main Goerdeler) as a grouping of independent national practices to create a strong European-based international firm.[6] In the United States, Main Lafrentz & Co. merged with Hurdman and Cranstoun to form Main Hurdman & Cranstoun.[11]

Then in 1987 KMG and Peat Marwick joined forces in the first mega-merger of large accounting firms and formed a firm called KPMG in the US, and most of the rest of the world, and Peat Marwick McLintock in the UK.[6]

In the Netherlands, as a consequence of the merger between PMI and KMG in 1988, PMI tax advisors joined Meijburg & Co. (The tax advisory agency Meijburg & Co. was founded by Willem Meijburg, Inspector of National Taxes, in 1939). Today, the Netherlands is the only country with two members of KPMG International: KPMG Audit (accountants) and Meijburg & Co (tax consultants).[12]

In 1990 the two firms settled on the common name of KPMG Peat Marwick McLintock but in 1991 the firm was renamed KPMG Peat Marwick, and in 1999 the name was reduced again to KPMG.[13]

In October 1997, KPMG and Ernst & Young announced that they were to merge.[14][15] However, while the merger to form PricewaterhouseCoopers was granted regulatory approval, the KPMG/Ernst & Young tie-up was later abandoned.[16][17]

Recent history

KPMG building in Kamloops, British Columbia

In 2001 KPMG divested its U.S. consulting firm through an initial public offering of KPMG Consulting Inc, which is now called BearingPoint, Inc.[18] In early 2009, BearingPoint filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[19]

The UK and Dutch consulting arms were sold to Atos Origin in 2002.[20]

In 2003 KPMG divested itself of its legal arm, Klegal[21] and KPMG LLP sold its Dispute Advisory Services to FTI Consulting.[22]

KPMG's member firms in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein merged to form KPMG Europe LLP in October 2007. These member firms were followed by Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, CIS (Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia), Turkey, Norway, and Saudi Arabia.[23][24] They appointed joint Chairmen, John Griffith-Jones and Ralf Nonnenmacher.[6]

Global structure

Each national KPMG firm is an independent legal entity and is a member of KPMG International Cooperative, a Swiss entity registered in the Swiss Canton of Zug. KPMG International changed its legal structure from a Swiss Verein to a co-operative under Swiss law in 2003.[25]

This structure in which the Cooperative provides support services only to the member firms is similar to other professional services networks. The member firms provide the services to client. The purpose is to limit the liability of each independent member.[26]

Michael Andrew, previously chairman of KPMG in Australia, assumed the global chairmanship in September 2011 and is based in Hong Kong. This is the first time a Big Four accounting organisation has had its global leader based in Asia Pacific.[27] On 27 February 2014 it was announced that Michael Andrew was retiring as chairman due to illness [28] and that he would be succeeded by John B. Veihmeyer,[29] a role he will perform alongside continuing as chairman and chief executive officer of KPMG's U.S. firm. Veihmeyer is based in New York City.

KPMG is registered as a multidisciplinary entity which also provides legal services.[30]


KPMG is organised into the following three service lines (the 2016 revenue shares are listed in parentheses):[5]

Tax arrangements relating to tax avoidance and multinational corporations and Luxembourg which were negotiated by KPMG became public in 2014 in the so-called Luxembourg Leaks.[31]

Community involvement and advocacy

In March 2017 KPMG launched a campaign designed to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology-based professions.[32]


The US branch of KPMG was rated one of the top 10 companies for working mothers.[33] It is also ranked No. 12 on Fortune Magazine's 2017 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, voted for by employees.[34]

KPMG was the preferred employer among the Big Four accounting firms according to[35] It was also ranked No.4 on the list of "50 Best Places to Launch a Career" in 2009 according to BusinessWeek.[36]

In 2009, KPMG in the UK was named the best big company to work for by The Times. This was the fourth consecutive year that KPMG has made the top three.[37]

In 2009, in the UK, KPMG introduced a programme known as 'Flexible Futures'. This allowed staff to volunteer to give the firm the option to either send them on a Sabbatical at 30% pay for up to 12 weeks, or to reduce their working hours to 4 days a week. The option remains open to the firm until October 2010. This facility has been invoked by the firm in some departments. KPMG publicised this as innovative and an alternative approach to redundancies.[38] Reaction within the firm was generally positive, with over 75% of staff volunteering. However, over 100 staff had been made redundant prior to this announcement, leading some to accuse KPMG of being hypocritical in the message that they were given.

In October 2010, for the eighth year in a row, KPMG was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's news magazine. In November 2010, KPMG was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[39]

It was reported in early 2012 that KPMG has about 11,000 staff in the UK and 9,000 in mainland China and Hong Kong. KPMG's global deputy chairman predicted that headcount in China will overtake that of the UK by the end of 2013.[40]

KPMG's Innovation Lab is based out of a WeWork in New York City.[41]


In 2003, KPMG agreed to pay $125 million and $75 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the firm's audits of Rite Aid and Oxford Health Plans Inc respectively.[42]

In 2004, KPMG agreed to pay $115 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the collapse of software company Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products NV.[43][44]

In 2006, Fannie Mae sued KPMG for malpractice for approving years of erroneous financial statements.[45]

In February 2007, KPMG Germany was investigated for ignoring questionable payments in the Siemens bribery case.[46] In November 2008, the Siemens Supervisory Board recommended changing auditors from KPMG to Ernst & Young.[47]

In March 2008 KPMG was accused of enabling "improper and imprudent practices" at New Century Financial, a failed mortgage company[48] and KPMG agreed to pay $80 million to settle suits from Xerox shareholders over manipulated earnings reports.[49]

It was announced in December that two of Tremont Group's Rye Select funds, audited by KPMG, had $2.37 billion invested with the Madoff "Ponzi scheme."[50] Class action suits were filed.[51]

In August 2010, it was reported by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority to the Swedish accountancy regulator after HQ Bank was forced into involuntary liquidation after the Financial Supervisory Authority revoked all its licences for breach of banking regulations.[52]

In August 2011, KPMG conducted due diligence work on Hewlett Packard's $11.1 billion acquisition of the British software company Autonomy. In November 2012 HP announced a $8.8 billion write off due to "serious accounting improprieties" committed by Autonomy management prior to the acquisition.[53][54]

According to an independent panel formed to investigate irregular payments made by Olympus which reported in December, KPMG's affiliate in Japan did not identify fraud at the company.[55]

In April 2013, Scott London, a former KPMG LLP partner in charge of KPMG's US Los Angeles-based Pacific Southwest audit practice, admitted passing on stock tips about clients, including Herbalife (HLF.N), Skechers (SKX.N) and other companies, to his friend, Bryan Shaw, a California jewelry-store owner. In return Shaw gave London $60,000 as well as gifts that included a $12,000 Rolex watch.[56] On 6 May Shaw agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He also agreed to pay around $1.3 million in restitution and will continue to cooperate with the government as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.[57] This scandal led KPMG to resign as auditor for two companies.[58]

In 2015, KPMG was accused by the Canada Revenue Agency of Tax evasion schemes. "The CRA alleges that the KPMG tax structure was in reality a "sham" that intended to deceive the taxman.".[59]

In 2016, the Canada Revenue Agency was found to have offered an amnesty to KPMG clients caught using an offshore tax-avoidance scheme on the Isle of Man.[60]

In 2017, KPMG terminated five partners in its audit practice, including the head of its audit practice in the United States, after an investigation of advanced confidential knowledge of planned audit inspections by its regulator.[61][62] This followed criticism about KPMG's failure of uncovering illegal sales practices at Wells Fargo or potential corruption at FIFA, the governing international body of soccer.[62] It is reported in 2017 that KPMG had the highest number of deficiencies, among the Big Four, cited by its regulator in the previous two years.[63]

In 2017, KPMG paid a $6.2 million fine to the SEC for inadequacies in its audit of the financial statements of oil and gas company, Miller Energy Resources.[64]

In 2018 it was announced that Carillion's auditor, KPMG, will have their role examined by the Financial Reporting Council.[65]

2017 South African corruption scandal

In 2017, KPMG was embroiled in related scandals involving the Gupta family.[66] KPMG, whose history in South Africa dated back to 1895, and which had been part of the international organization since its founding in 1979,[67] faced calls for closure, and an uncertain future, as a consequence of the damage done to the South African economy as a result of its activities.[68][69]

KPMG had been working with a Gupta family company in the mining sector, Oakbay Resources and Energy, for 15 years prior to the revelations of corruption and collusion in 2016, at which point KPMG resigned. The full impact and financial profit that KPMG received is yet to be determined;[70] however, at least one large company has terminated its services with KPMG due to its relationship with Oakbay.[71]

In July 2017, after controversial documents were leaked by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, former chief executive of KPMG South Africa and the former partner that was responsible for audits related to the Gupta family, Moses Kgosana, withdrew from becoming the chairman of Alexander Forbes, a financial services firm.[72][73]

In 2015, KPMG issued a controversial report that implicated former finance minister Pravin Gordhan in the creation of an illegal intelligence gathering unit of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This report was widely seen to be part of a wider Gupta-linked state capture conspiracy, with the aim of forcing Gordhan out of his post.[74] The report was withdrawn by KPMG in September 2017,[75] earning the ire of the Commissioner of SARS, Tom Moyane.[76]

After an internal investigation that found work done for Gupta family fell "considerably short" of the firm's standards and amid rising political and public backlash, KPMG's senior leadership in South Africa - including its chairman Ahmed Jaffer, CEO Trevor Hoole, COO Steven Louw and five partners - resigned in September 2017.[77][78]

Save South Africa, a civil-society group, accused KPMG and UK PR firm Bell Pottinger of playing a "central role in facilitating state capture".[79] Numerous South African companies either fired KPMG in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, or were reconsidering their relationships with the firm [80] with the international chairman of KPMG, John Veihmeyer, apologising for the conduct of the South African arm[81] and the firm pledged to donate fees earned from Gupta businesses, as well as the withdrawn SARS report to anti-corruption activities.[82]

Tax shelter fraud

In 2003, I.R.S. issued summonses to KPMG for information about certain tax shelters and their investors.[83] In February 2004, the U.S. justice Department commenced a criminal inquiry.[83] The United States member firm, KPMG LLP, has been accused by the United States Department of Justice of fraud in marketing abusive tax shelters. KPMG fired or forced the retirement of over a dozen who were involved.[84] KPMG LLP admitted criminal wrongdoing in creating fraudulent tax shelters to help wealthy clients avoid $2.5 billion in taxes between 1996 and 2002 and agreed to pay $456 million in penalties to avoid indictment. Under the deferred prosecution agreement, KPMG LLP would not face criminal prosecution if it complied with the terms of its agreement with the government. On 3 January 2007, the criminal conspiracy charges against KPMG were dropped.[85]


KPMG Europe headquarters in the Squaire building at Frankfurt Airport

The Swedish member firm was main sponsor for Swedish biathlete Magdalena Forsberg, six-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. Forsberg was working as a tax consultant at the KPMG Sundsvall office parallel to her athletic career.[86]

Phil Mickelson wearing KPMG hat

In February 2008, Phil Mickelson, ranked one of the best golfers in the world, signed a three-year global sponsorship deal with KPMG. As part of the agreement, Mickelson was to wear the KPMG logo on his headwear during all golf related appearances.[87]

The Canadian member firm sponsored Alexandre Bilodeau, who won the first gold medal for Canada on home soil in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Alexandre's father is a tax partner in the Montreal office.[88][89]

KPMG and McLaren Technology Group have formed a strategic alliance to apply McLaren Applied Technologies' (MAT) predictive analytics and technology to KPMG's audit and advisory services. McLaren 2015 Formula 1 car has the KPMG logo engraved above the pilot seat.[90]


  • No.2 in the 2011 World's Best Outsourcing Advisors - in recognition of the firm's depth of experience, global reach and holistic approach.[91]
  • Inducted into Working Mother Hall of Fame after being honored for 15 years as one of Working Mother magazine's 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.[33]
  • International Tax Review Asia Tax Awards, 2008-2010 - in recognition of the accomplishments of KPMG's Tax Services and Global Transfer Pricing Services team. KPMG China was awarded the 2010 Hong Kong Tax Firm of the Year and the 2010 China Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year at the International Tax Review's 2010 Asia Tax Awards ceremony in Singapore on 23 November 2010.[92][93] KPMG's global transfer pricing services in China and Hong Kong is headed by Chi Cheng.[94][95]
  • Top 2 overall in Consultancy Rankings 2009 by OpRisk & Compliance - in recognition of KPMG's experience in risk management.[96]
  • World's most attractive employers, 2010 - First of the Big Four.[97]
  • KPMG Leads all the Big Four professional services giant firms (namely Deloitte, PWC and Ernst & Young) on Fortune list of 100 best companies to work for.[98]
  • Ranked number 13 in Consulting Magazine's Best Firms to Work for 2016[99]
  • KPMG, along with PwC, Deloitte, and PA Consulting Group, were among the UK's 25 top companies to work for in 2017.[100]

See also


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External links

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