KPMG Consulting Interviews and Culture


KPMG CONSULTING

With a global workforce of 160,000 people and global revenues of $24.82B for the 2014 financial year, it’s pretty obvious KPMG isn’t messing around when it comes to, well, anything. However, not all of its resources are pointed towards consulting, as it offers three lines of services, Audit, Tax and Advisory, with the Advisory arm of its operations (where consulting lives) generating $9.09 Billion last year. Within the US, KPMG LLP operates from 87 offices with more than 23,000 employees.

Since its first incarnation in the late 1800s, KPMG’s story is one of continued and sustained growth. Weathering the great depression, two world wars, the cold war and a myriad of potential pitfalls in-between, KPMG is now a household name in accounting and auditing, but it also boasts a growing reputation in the consulting field. Known as part of the elite “Big 4”, it’s a competent, calculated and shrewd firm, with its eyes fixed on bigger and better things.

Though not as aggressive, creative or flamboyant as MBB or perhaps even its Big 4 competitors, KPMG is a huge force in the consulting market and not one to be taken lightly. Interestingly, KPMG is the only one of the Big 4 that has not yet acquired a boutique strategy firm. Keep your eyes open, though – deal talks are rumored.

KPMG CONSULTING KEY STATS

KPMG CONSULTING WEBSITE:  www.kpmg.com

KPMG CONSULTING HEADQUARTERS:  Amstelveen, Netherlands

KPMG CONSULTING EMPLOYEES: 50,000 professionals

KPMG CONSULTING LOCATIONS: 155 Countries

KPMG CONSULTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE: John Veihmeyer

KPMG CONSULTING REVENUE: $9B

KPMG CONSULTING ENGAGEMENT COST: $450K

KPMG CONSULTING HISTORY

Accounting firm Marwick, Mitchell & Company was founded in 1897 in New York City by James Marwick and Roger Mitchell. Eight years later Marwick, Mitchell & Company launched a banking practice, for the first time focusing its efforts on one industry in an effort that proved to be very successful.

In 1925, Marwick, Mitchell & Company merged with a UK based accountancy firm, W.B. Peat & Co. to form Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Company. The merger was mutually beneficial, strengthening Marwick, Mitchell & Company’s presence in Europe, while giving Peat a stronger foothold in the rapidly expanding North American market.

In the following years, Peat Marwick continued to grow as demand for accountants boomed in the late 1960s, becoming the largest public accounting firm in the US by 1972. This boom was caused by increasingly complex tax laws, securities laws, and industry regulations. Between 1973 and 1976, for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) added 16 new disclosure requirements for publicly held companies. With the trend set for years to come, demand for accounting services far outstripped supply. In addition to its private clients, Peat Marwick’s growth was also fueled by the government contracts it won.

In the mid 1970s, as public opinion swayed toward greater accountability for the finance industry, Peat Marwick took steps to firm up controls on its accounting practice and increase transparency. This culminated in the firm engaging another accounting firm, Arthur Young & Company, to audit its own quality control procedures and make the results available to its clients and staff.

This was the first time a public accounting firm had initiated a peer review process. The accounting world held its breath as the accounting equivalent of a sex scandal threatened to break. Thankfully, everything stayed in a nice orderly fashion, the way accountants like it, after the audit portrayed Peat Marwick in a favorable light.

In 1978, Peat Marwick formed Peat Marwick International to oversee the firm’s activities outside the United States, establishing a multinational umbrella partnership of different firms in locations around the world. By design, this move was preparation for increased globalization in the world economy and financial markets by combining a single brand with well established local accounting organizations.

In 1986, Peat Marwick merged with Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG). What resulted was international accounting federation, KMG, which was based in the Netherlands – the U.S. arm being known as KMG Main Hurdman. This merger created the largest accounting firm in the world in terms of size and revenue. On January 1, 1987, the merger between Peat Marwick and KMG was officially completed, creating KPMG. It’s assumed that the P was placed second for phonetic reasons, but no one really remembers.

In March 1992, KPMG began to reorganize itself, choosing six lines of business: financial services; government; health care & life sciences; information & communications; manufacturing, retailing, & distribution; and special markets & designated services. In addition, KPMG’s US arm split the country into ten areas before organizing accountants, tax specialists, and consultants into industry-specific teams. This was done in the hopes of developing specialists with certain areas of expertise which would then lead to new clients and high-paying tax and consulting jobs.

In 1996, Stephen G. Butler, the new CEO of the US arm, indicated he would strengthen its consultancy services, a market he saw as filled with potential, and offer new services. As growth continued, the firm sought to further to unify and centralize its operations while boosting brand recognition. A major part of their worldwide marketing campaign was the tag line, “It’s time for clarity.” Explaining the tag line in a company statement, KPMG marketing officer Tim Pearson said, “The emphasis on clarity – not simply knowledge management or insight – in our brand advertising campaign strongly differentiates KPMG in the increasingly crowded business advisory arena and articulates KPMG’s business strategy.”

In 1999, KPMG’s US arm, KPMG LLP, separated its consulting business from its accounting business and planned to sell stock in the entity. In August 1999, Cisco Systems Inc. purchased a 20 percent stake in the consulting business for around $1B. This was another mutually beneficial move, providing Cisco with access to KPMG’s international network, while providing KPMG with access with Cisco’s computer networking expertise. It also provided KPMG with much needed capital for growth.

In January 2000, KPMG Consulting, LLC was incorporated, with the new business including KPMG’s consulting efforts in the United States and Mexico.

Since 2000, KPMG has weathered 2 major storms – the public accounting scandals of the early 2000s, and the global recession in the late 2000s. The focus: a diminished focus on consulting in the early part of the decade to avoid the limelight, but an increased focus post re-organization on consulting as a driver for high-profit, high-visibility work.

KPMG CONSULTING ORGANIZATION

Practice Areas

Business Issues:
Capabilities:

 

Functions:

Office Locations:

KPMG has offices in 155 countries across its three core regions: The Americas, EMA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and Asia Pacific, with 87 offices in the US alone.

Career Path:

Working as a consultant in the Advisory division of KPMG, your career will have 6 stages:

  • Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Senior Consultant
  • Manager
  • Senior Manager
  • Partner/Associate Partner

Internships

KPMG offers internships to college juniors. If you want to apply, apply through your university career center. If KPMG isn’t visiting your school, contact a KPMG recruiter in the city of your choosing – but first, network with someone who is a manager or above who is an alum at your school. With over 50K employees, you should be able to find at least one.

Exit Opportunities

As diverse as KPMG is, working for a Big 4 Accounting firm – even in its consulting division – is a bit like tattooing “I’m an accountant!” across your resume. Advisory ranges from risk consulting – very technical, low-level and compliance oriented – to high-powered analytical strategy projects and M&A work.

If you’re itching to get into strategy consulting, KPMG may not be the place for you, because the projects you will work on are more likely to be operational in nature. If you want to make that step into MBB, you might be better suited applying to a well respected boutique consulting firm, as they will offer you more hands on experience in the type of work conducted by MBB. Within KPMG, just make sure you focus on projects in fast-growing industries that are more strategic in nature – working for the CEO or COO, rather than someone in the clients’ middle management.

How do you figure that out? Ask probing, but positive, questions in your networking sessions – like “tell me about your best relationship with a client. Who were they, what was their role, and what problem did you solve for them?”

That being said, KPMG is a very good brand and the firm offers incredible training and project work, providing you with great exposure to many of the biggest and most influential businesses in the world. As such, you can do anything – you just might get pigeonholed based on the office you work for or you may work on an impossibly long project.

Notable Alumni

  • Yvo de Boer – Former chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change and Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute.
  • David Carew – Sierra Leone’s Minister of Trade and Industry
  • Paul Glasson – National Vice President for the Australia China Business Council
  • J. Spencer Lanthier – Former Director at the Bank of Canada
  • James Marwick – Director at AT&T
  • Richard Solomons – Chief Executive of InterContinental Hotels Group

KPMG CONSULTING CULTURE

KPMG prides itself on its work culture, with particular emphasis on work life balance. If you speak to employees, some will sing you a sweet melody about how balanced their lives are, while others will hum a somber dirge, lamenting the amount of free time they have. If you want our two cents, you’re obviously going to be working hard while you’re there, with some periods being busier than others, but if you’re diligent, a good work life balance is there for the taking!

This seems like a pretty good time to join the consulting practice at KPMG. In the last year alone, they’ve taken a leap up the Vault Consulting 50 table, going from #23 last year to #18. Things don’t look to be slowing down for the firm either, as they look to increase both their numbers and their client services in the consulting arena. If you’re looking for an explosive razzmatazz life in consulting, then KPMG will not compare to MBB. If, however, you quite like the idea of getting on closer to the ground floor, KPMG might just be the place for you. Like we said, exit options are expansive but not always high-profile when compared to the very top consulting firms, but they’re headed in the right direction.

Upon joining KPMG, you’ll have access to a wide variety of the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses that are made available to employees. In 2013 alone, 2,861 instructor-led courses were offered by the firm. Salary wise, KPMG is quite a way off the top consulting firms and even lags behind its Big 4 competitors, which is something you’re definitely going to want to consider as you weigh up a job offer.

With such a huge global footprint and with Fortune 50 C-level clients in tow, KPMG is not a firm to turn your nose up at. They also have a history of making very shrewd business relationships. Though subconsciously still an audit and accounting firm perhaps, it’s positioning itself well for the future and is definitely a firm you should keep your eye on.

Core Values

KPMG Consulting has some key core values, as summed up by their website:

  • We lead by example
  • We work together
  • We respect the individual
  • We seek the facts and provide insight
  • We are open and honest in our communication
  • We are committed to our communities
  • Above all, we act with integrity

Awards

According to Vault’s 50 Consulting 50 rankings for 2015, KMPG is ranked at 18 overall, at 7 for “Best Consulting Firms for Financial Services” and 8 for “Best Consulting Firms for Public Sector Consulting”.  It was also recognised Universum as  the 4th Most Attractive Employer in the World for business, ahead of firms like Apple, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

More accolades include:

  • Association of Management Consulting Firms – Excellence in Consulting: Corporate Responsibility/Humanitarian (2014)
  • Consulting Mag’s “Top 25 in Consulting” for “Excellence in Leadership to Mike Nolan of KPMG (2014)
  • DiversityInc Magazine Top 50 Companies for Diversity (2013)
  • OpRisk’s Top 2 overall in Consultancy Rankings (2009)

KPMG CONSULTING INTERVIEWS & RECRUITING

You can expect things to go down like this, should you apply to KPMG:

The first step is a phone interview or an interview on campus. Here you can expect a lot of fit and behavioral type questions to be fired your way. Demonstrating a passion for and a technical knowledge of consulting and the areas in which KPMG does business is key if you want to impress your interviewer. This first round is quite tough because they’re trying to put you outside of your comfort zone and test your limits.

Next come face-to-face interviews which are going to be conducted by panels of 2-3 staff members. They will sometimes throw another round of panel interviews in there too, which will also include the manager you’ll be reporting to if you get the job. Again, you can expect a grilling on all fronts, where a demonstration of your technical knowledge and your compatibility with the firm are what’s going to separate you from a job offer.

KPMG LLP differs from other firms in that by the time you get a final round interview, they already have faith in your intellectual abilities. From thereon in, they’re going to assess your behavioral abilities. It may even be that you don’t get asked to solve a case during the whole process. Of course, you shouldn’t bank on it working out like that, just don’t be too disappointed if you aren’t presented with one.

Being personable, emotionally intelligent, someone with whom they feel they could work, and confident are all very important to this firm. If you can come off as confident, professional and charismatic, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position for success.

Applying to KPMG? Get yourself up to speed and grab an interview prep session here.

KPMG Salaries

Are you an undergrad, MBA or intern who’s interested in working at KPMG, but you don’t know how much you’ll make? Check out our latest Management Consulting Salaries post to find out!

Target Schools

  • Georgetown
  • Columbia University
  • Yale University
  • University of Virginia
  • Terry/University of Georgia
  • University of Maryland
  • NYU
  • UC Berkeley
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Columbia University
  • George Washington University
  • West Virginia University
  • Goizueta/Emory University

Diversity Programs

As a firm, KPMG is very committed to diversity and the firm has won a number of awards for its stance. For employees, it runs a number of programs including:

Key Accounts Rotation – A program that targets ethnically diverse Audit, Tax, and Advisory associates.

Diversity Advisory Board Scorecard  – Developed to set meaningful diversity metrics for the firm.

KPMG’s Executive Leadership Institute for Women – A professional development series designed by KPMG specifically for women.

KPMG CONSULTING LINKS

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KPMG Consulting Social Media


 

 

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