Two partners who quit KPMG over bullying launch own firm

Two partners who quit KPMG over bullying launch own firm

Maggie Brereton and Ina Kjaer have registered Eos Deal Advisory, naming their firm after the Greek goddess of the dawn, with a plan to break from macho working practices in the industry.

Two women, now ex-partners at KPMG who quit over concerns about bullying, have launched a new firm.

Maggie Brereton and Ina Kjaer have registered Eos Deal Advisory, naming their firm after the Greek goddess of the dawn, with a plan to break from macho working practices in the industry.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Kjaer commented: “The business will allow minorities and women who walked out of the [deal advisory] market to feel like they want to work in it. Many feel like they cannot participate in this market. We will bring proper diversity into this market.”

Brereton said that the two women were hoping to reshape the deal advisory market, by focusing on running a diverse business that does not “waste talent” by relying on intense after-hours working culture that tends to exclude women and minorities.

A firm free of Macho working practices

They will ensure that Eos Deal Advisory does not pull “all nighters” to meet deadlines and will not adopt any “macho” working practices, which they say was a “very old school way of selling deals.”

Kjaer and Brereton resigned from KPMG in February in protest over how the firm responded to concerns raised last year about bullying by deal advisory boss Sanjay Thakkar. Between them, the women had 40 years of experience at KPMG and were highly respected as two of its most talented partners. Brereton said that they “We don’t want to be a new KPMG, a mini-me.”

The new firm aims to employ 15 individuals in the UK by October, by which point it will be a fully functional business. It also has plans to expand overseas and is already in talks with several large potential clients, reportedly including one investment bank.

Their aim is to have a zero percent pay gap at the point of launch, which is something that would set the company apart from other large consultancies and accounting firms. Most have at least a 20% discrepancy between genders.

The new business plans to offer an approach distinct from its competitors – which will include KPMG and other members of the Big Four – with their pre-deal and post-deal specialists working closely when advising clients.

Consideration given to post-deal challenges

Both women claim that advisory businesses often fail to give careful consideration to challenges that can be faced after a deal is completed, which is something they intend to focus on.

Brereton said: “We have done deals for 20 years and in that time not a lot has changed — it is still the case that roughly only a third of deals add value. You see a lot of theoretical assumptions being made without somebody separating fact from fiction.”

The pair are not perturbed at the prospect of setting up a new business in a highly competitive market at a time when the UK economy is as uncertain as ever, with Brereton saying: “Brexit will get you more deals. Any crisis creates more opportunities. [Companies] are becoming cheaper by the day because of [the weakness in] sterling and uncertainty around trade. Good quality companies are undervalued and that’s an opportunity, and there’s a wall of private equity money out there.”

Kjaer said that Brexit will likely result in more complex deals being made, so even if there were fewer deals available to the market, they were looking for complexity rather than size.

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