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KPMG accountants who have been WFH amid crisis are told to ‘stop moaning’

KPMG accountants who have been WFH amid crisis are told to ‘stop moaning’ and ‘playing victims’ by chairman as they raise concerns over pay and pensions

  • Bill Michael told 1,500 consultants on the meeting to quit ‘playing the victim’
  • Employees at the Big Four accountancy firm had registered concerns over pay
  • Mr Michael, 52, who has led firm since 2017, said: ‘I am sorry for the words I used’

Consultants at top City firm KPMG were told by the chairman to ‘stop moaning’ during a Zoom call about pandemic pay cuts.  

Bill Michael also told the 1,500 consultants on the meeting to quit ‘playing the victim’ card’ in a discussion about how coronavirus is affecting working life at the company.

Employees at the Big Four accountancy firm’s London office had registered their concerns over bonuses and possibly pension pay being trimmed back.

Hospitality and events businesses across the country are being devastated by coronavirus restrictions, and 10million workers are still on the furlough scheme and amid fears that unemployment will rocket when the scheme ends in April. 

KPMG announced an 11 per cent salary slash to the firm’s 582 partners to safeguard jobs and providing more wriggle room to make new hires of graduates.

Partners still pocketed an average of £572,000, down from £640,000 the previous year.

The chairman himself had his salary shaved down by 14 per cent to £1.7million.  

Bill Michael also told the 1,500 consultants on the meeting to quit ‘playing the victim’ card’ in a discussion about how coronavirus is affecting working life at the company

Yet many staff complained following Mr Michael’s comments during Monday’s virtual town hall.

‘If someone tells you to stop moaning in the middle of a recession and when people are dying… It’s incredibly insensitive,’ one told the Financial Times.  

Others interpreted the chairman’s message as one of motivation, impressing the need to ask for help if they are struggling.

Mr Michael, 52, said in a statement: ‘I am sorry for the words I used, which did not reflect what I believe in, and I have apologised to my colleagues. 

‘Looking after the wellbeing of our people and creating a culture where everyone can thrive is of critical importance to me and is at the heart of everything we do as a firm.’

The Australian, who took the reins at KPMG in 2017, also sent an all-staff email expressing ‘regret’ for his language. 

He alluded to his own hospital battle with Covid last March and said he understood the toll the pandemic was taking.

The majority of KPMG’s 16,000 people are working from home during lockdown.

The FT reported that an app for employees to register grievances anonymously has stopped working after some comments remarked on Mr Michael’s insensitivity.

The majority of KPMG's 16,000 people are working from home rather than the Canary Wharf office (pictured) during lockdown

The majority of KPMG’s 16,000 people are working from home rather than the Canary Wharf office (pictured) during lockdown

During the virtual town hall meeting on Monday, staff reportedly also raised concerns over a ranking system that grades team members from best to worst.

KPMG has reported a 2 per cent fall in revenue in the year to September 30 to £2.3billion. 

KPMG did not furlough any of its staff during the pandemic, and is even overhauling its offices at the cost of £44million and bolstering remote working technology. 

It followed a similar trend among rivals. Deloitte announced a 17 per cent cut in average partner pay to £731,000 last September.

PwC said in December that its partner pay fell 10 per cent to £685,000. EY’s average partner pay slipped just 1.8pc to £667,000.

KPMG also added it has put in place ‘a range of support measures’ to help employees adjust to remote working, including new mental health resources, ‘flex’ hours and a company podcast to help colleagues stat connected.

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