BIG FIVE – KPMG breaks £1bn barrier.

Electronic commerce has helped push KPMG’s fees to record levels, breaking through the £1bn barrier for the first time. Releasing results for the year to 30 September 1999 last month, the firm earned total fees of £1,038m and said consultancy, including work on e-commerce, was the driving force behind a 20% growth on last year. Alan Reid, finance partner at KPMG UK, said: ‘We focused on electronic commerce three to four years ago. If you talk to analysts they’ll tell you we are now the market leaders.’ He added: ‘We are now identifying what’s going to be the next big thing. In consultancy you can never relax.’ The company’s results, which also saw a 35% increase in distributable profit to £242m, also led to speculation that Mike Rake, the UK senior partner, is now the highest paid accountant in Britain with an income of £1.5m. But with Ernst & Young, the only other firm to reveal details of partners’ pay, KPMG pointed out rumours of Rake’s earning status were impossible to confirm. Consulting income for the firm grew by 30% on the previous year after repositioning to take advantage of the growing interest in e-commerce. Over the last three years, fees from consulting have nearly doubled from £144m in 1997 to £282m in 1999. The average level of partner pay increased by 28% to £391,000. Globally the firm also had a good year with fees up 17% to US $12.1bn (£7.5bn).

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