KPMG cuts own staff after warning bankers of job losses

 
David Hellier
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Professional services group KPMG warned just yesterday that bankers faced more job losses and pay cuts unless the economy improved.

A day later and the firm was back in touch, announcing that there are going to be cuts in its own UK headcount of around 11,300 people.

Yesterday the firm said it was carrying out reviews of its structures and headcount numbers. “It is likely that we will need to make a number of roles redundant over the coming weeks,” a statement said.

Precise numbers are not known but estimates yesterday suggest the number will be around 300.

The redundancies come just weeks into Simon Collins’ reign as chairman of KPMG UK and have the hallmark of the type of move made by many a chief executive coming in to a job.

There is certainly a change of feel from the leadership days of John Griffith-Jones where the firm reacted to the downturn following the Lehman crisis by introducing a novel programme of allowing staff to work on four day weeks or take long sabbaticals in order to bring its costs down.

The firm reckoned it saved £4m or the equivalent of 100 jobs because one quarter of its UK staff enrolled for the scheme.

This time there will definitely be redundancies, something that is almost certainly going on across the industry but a touch more quietly.

Sources said the firm considered a flexible working scheme but felt this time around it would not do the job.

The latest cuts appear to be in response to what the firm is seeing in terms of its future work commitments, which does not augur well for the rest of the City.

The kind of work professional service firms depend on these days is so M&A and IPO focused, that when these markets turn downwards, many of the firms’ work streams dry up.

How sad that London is not currently able to capitalise on the problems faced by Nasdaq in New York, which botched up the Facebook IPO.

CO-OP: RISK OR OPPORTUNITY
Some, especially those behind rival Lord Levene’s unsuccessful NBNK bid for the Lloyd’s branches, will no doubt use yesterday’s half-year profits slide at the Co-op to argue it isn’t ready for such a big deal.

Nobody is more mindful than the institution itself of the need to improve performance, both at its banks and in its other activites such as supermarkets.

“There’s no point being the most ethical business in the corporate graveyard,” is a phrase commonly heard around Manchester, the movement’s headquarters.

But the Co-op argues its mutual status enables it to carry on investing in its business areas at a time when institutions being run on a more short-term basis might be tempted to rein their spending back.

Hence the Co-op is sticking to its £2bn investment programme over three years. This will help it expand in areas, for example, such as legal services, where it is hiring 3,000 people over the period to handle consumer law work such as conveyancing which it can offer from its bank branches.

The purchase of the Lloyd’s branches will bring the group’s share of the current account market up from seven per cent – and that is before it wins over any customers disillusioned by the scandals that have beset many of its rivals.

The Co-op has an opportunity to grow but it needs to probe its problem areas and sort them soon.