With the market still relatively weak, all Big Four firms are understood to have stepped up efforts to streamline their operations to boost efficiency and make savings.
While KPMG declared its streamlining programme had saved it £50m, Ernst & Young has announced rationalisation of back-office functions and management that it says will free up partners’ time.
KPMG’s streamlining programme has already seen it slash its UK staff by 10%. John Griffith-Jones, CEO of KPMG, said the firm was continuing its push to cut down on ‘clutter’.
‘Empowerment is the key, whether it’s a partner, director or some other member of staff. Let’s not have a committee of a hundred people to take decisions,’ he said.
Ernst & Young has merged the control of Scotland and Northern Ireland operations with the north of England region. The entire area will be headquartered in Leeds.
Douglas Nisbet, managing partner for Scotland, said: ‘We are still individually focused on the market and sales on a local level but there is more centralised control over back-office functions. We continue to look at ways to be more efficient.’
E&Y is also creating a single financial processing centre in Newcastle to handle administration such as expense forms, invoices, and timesheets.
Insiders claim similar moves to reduce partners involved in decision-making are being planned at PwC though a spokesperson dismissed the claims as ‘speculation’.
Deloitte & Touche denied reports it could axe as many as 60 UK partners.
Griffith-Jones said: ‘It’s a tough market out there so I’m sure there will be one or two things going on there.’
For more on the state of UK firms see www.accountancyage.com/top50.
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