Growth in revenues is good but it's even better if you look more carefully, says KPMG boss

Oliver Gill
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KPMG In Brussels
Chairman Simon Collins will step down as UK boss next March (Source: Getty)

KPMG said its annual results proved it had moved beyond simply being a Big Four beancounter as it joined competitors in smashing through the £2bn revenue barrier.

The UK arm, based in Canary Wharf, is the last to announce its annual return, reporting performance for the 12 months to the end of September.

EY's UK business reported revenues of over £2bn earlier this year, while Deloitte and PwC nosed their top lines above £3bn.

And while revenue was up by six per cent to £2.1bn, boss Simon Collins – who surprised partners at the start of this month by telling them he'll be stepping down next March – felt this didn't tell the whole picture.

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“We’re really pleased with the revenue growth. But I got more pleased the more I delved down," he told City A.M.

There are lot of old sources of income being discontinued and a lot of new – and more exciting and more profitable – sources of income crowding them out. So the growth is six per cent net but the duck's legs under the water are paddling a lot faster that.

A key driver of growth was the less "traditional" revenue stream of technology.

“The real push on technology started at the tail end of 2014 so the investment peak for us was in 2016," said Collins. KPMG has invested heavily in its cyber services – such investment led to a two per cent reduction in profits.

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The firm made 40 new partner promotion during the year and although it did accelerate a number of partner retirements, a number of external hires in emerging services were brought in. The re-jigging of partners meant average pay fell by 6.6 per cent, from £623,000 to £582,000.

KPMG continued to be one of the UK's largest graduate employers. It said it received 28,000 applications for just 1,200 places.

Including experienced hires, the firm took on 1,500 staff during the year, taking its total number of UK employees to over 13,000.

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