KPMG UK: Number of equity partners dips below 500 as Big Four layoffs begin

KPMG UK has cut its number of equity partners to less than half the size of rival PwC in a sign that the firm has not hesitated in making cuts right at the top of the firm as the Big Four begin another round of layoffs.

The number of equity partners fell by seven per cent in the year to October to 467, according to analysis by the Financial Times. KPMG UK had 502 equity partners as of October last year.

It is the first time the firm’s equity partnership has fallen below 500 members since it began to disclose its figures in 2002.

Earlier this year, KPMG called off plans to hand out promotions to its auditors in April, after carrying out a “thorough review of workforce planning,” The Times first reported.

At the time, the firm’s head of audit, Catherine Burnet, explained in an email to staff that KPMG had seen its “attrition levels stabilize,” meaning its “year-end headcount is expected to be higher in comparison to the prior year.”

However, earlier this month it promoted 56 new salaried partners, a new level that was introduced in 2021, bringing the total to 359. The title means that staff get the coveted partner title but only a small proportion of their pay is based on the firm’s profits and is not an equity role.

KPMG competitors all had partner promotions this year, with 1,057 equity partners at PwC, 930 at EY, while Deloitte has 714.

Last month it was discovered that KPMG was planning a wave of job cuts and salary freezes in its UK deal advisory division, with around 110 employees expected to be laid off.

KPMG didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the data.