‘Fast-food service’ on KPMG’s plate

KPMG international chairman Colin Sharman this week unveiled the seven-strong executive team that will help him transform the firm into the business services equivalent of McDonalds.

‘McDonalds has achieved uniform, global brand awareness, a common feel about the organisation, a common range of products and common processes, for example, in they way they fry hamburgers,’ said Sharman. ‘That is equivalent to what we want to do with consultancy services.’

The seven international managing partners, along with three regional partners yet to be appointed, will be dedicated full-time to implementing policies and practices on a global basis, he said.

The new team’s focus contrasts with rival firms, Sharman explained, ‘which means we have every chance of being the most consistent player very quickly.’

Unlike newly merged PriceWaterhouseCoopers, KPMG dealt with a single, known entity, instead of two. ‘PwC faces a major challenge, but is likely to become a formidable player. Therefore it’s imperative for us to do it quickly,’ he said. ‘It’ll take time to make a difference – I see this as a three to five-year project. You don’t change an organisation in ten minutes.’

KPMG’s failed merger talks with Ernst & Young convinced Sharman his firm was more cohesive than he thought, but also highlighted weaknesses. ‘We tried to do too many things and had a lack of focus. We were not great at implementation and we underinvested in management consultancy and international infrastructure,’ he said. The new strategy and structure, he added, ‘was about putting all those things right’.

One of the first items on the international executive’s agenda will be a new profit-sharing structure that would include an international element within the next year, said Sharman.


Colin Sharman characterised his international team as a new generation of leadership, who have risen to the top tier since KMN merged with Peat Marwick & Mitchell to form KPMG in 1987 and viewed the firm as a single entity.

The firm’s new chief executive is Paul Reilly. The other international managing partners are responsible for individual business lines and include: Jim McGuire (Management Consulting); Hans de Munnik (Assurance Services; Hartwich Lussmann (Tax and Legal Services); Gary Colter (Financial Advisory Services); Alistair Johnston (Markets); Don Christiansen (Infrastructure).

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