KPMG has been reprimanded and fined #1,500 by the English ICA for sending out congratulatory letters to part-qualified accountancy students a week before they were due to receive their final exam results.
Many of the students, who were training at rival firms when subjected to the mailshot in August last year, failed to qualify. KPMG, which ran the recruitment campaign with the help of recruitment consultancy Michael Page, was condemned for its ‘unethical approach’.
The institute, fearing a leak of the results, launched a full-scale inquiry which concluded with the disciplinary action.
The source of KPMG’s list has never been confirmed, but insiders blamed a market research company for the incorrect information.
In the institute consent order, KPMG – which was also ordered to pay #1,500 costs – agreed it failed to pay ‘adequate attention to the intended recipients and to the contents of the letter in the light of institute guidance’. As a result, KPMG ‘discredited’ itself, the institute and the profession.
The letter debacle forced KPMG, which was trying to attract new staff for its financial-sector group, to apologise to the institute and blamed a ‘timing error’. Rivals said the firm’s action was a response to the cut-throat newly-qualified recruitment market.
KPMG refused to comment.
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