KPMG boss QUITS telling well-paid staff they are 'lucky'

KPMG boss QUITS telling well-paid staff they are 'lucky'

February 12, 2021

KPMG boss QUITS after video showed him telling well-paid staff they are ‘lucky’ and they should not ‘sit there and moan’ during pandemic – before ‘woke’ employees complained about his ‘privilege’

  • Bill Michael will leave top City firm at the end of the month following the uproar 
  • He added that unconscious bias training has never led to any improvements
  • The Australian, 52, had stepped down pending probe but this morning resigned
  • He was speaking to 1,500 consultants who have been working home in lockdown

The boss of KPMG who told his well-paid staff not to ‘sit their and moan’ about cuts to their bonuses during the pandemic has resigned.

Bill Michael will leave the top City firm at the end of the month after ‘woke’ employees complained and told him to ‘check his privilege’.

A recording of Monday’s Zoom meeting exclusively revealed by MailOnline yesterday showed the UK chairman telling 1,500 consultants they are in ‘a very lucky sector’. 

He also dismissed the notion of unconscious bias as ‘complete and utter c**p’ and that they should not ‘play the role of victim unless you’re sick’.

Mr Michael had apolgoised and temporarily stepped down pending investigation – but this morning offered his resignation. 

In a statement he said: ‘I regard my position as untenable and so I have decided to leave the firm.’ 

Bina Mehta, the senior elected board member, has stepped in as acting chair of the board and Mary O’Connor, head of clients and markets has assumed Mr Michael’s day-to-day executive responsibilities as acting senior partner.  

A leadership election among the partners will soon take place to pick his permanent successor.  

The 52-year-old Australian, who staff used to call the ‘Donald Trump’ of KPMG, and whose own salary was trimmed by 14 per cent to £1.7million, dismissed the notion of unconscious bias as ‘complete and utter c**p’ that has never solved anything.

After the virtual meeting employees took to an anonymous company message board to complain.

One wrote: ‘There’s no such thing as unconscious bias?! Are you joking? Please do your research before just making such statements. Check your privilege.’

Another staff member said: ‘People are struggling with serious mental health issues and having our leadership tell us to shut up and pull ourselves up by our boot straps is heartbreaking.’ 

Bill Michael (pictured with his wife Chloe) will leave the top City firm at the end of the month following the uproar sparked by his comments on a Zoom call on Monday

‘I think unconscious bias is complete c**p’: KPMG chair’s comments to staff 

 What Bill Michael said:

‘And now is there time to say ‘well do you care enough?’. 

‘Right, I don’t think this point of, what do you call it? Unconscious bias. I think unconscious bias is complete c**p. 

‘Complete and utter c**p for years. There is no such thing as unconscious bias. I don’t buy it. Because after every single unconscious bias training that’s ever been done nothing’s ever improved. 

‘So unless you care, you actually won’t change. And I think there’s a lot more care, more generally, to change. And we are in a very lucky sector…

He added: ‘Take as much influence of your own diary, of your own life. of whatever. 

‘Because I have spoken to a lot of partners and people at all sorts of levels where it almost feels that this is being done to them. 

‘Well, you can’t play the role of victim unless you’re sick. I hope you’re not sick and you’re not ill and if you’re not take control of your life. Don’t sit there and moan about it quite frankly.’

What staff said anonymously later:

One wrote: ‘There’s no such thing as unconscious bias?! Are you joking? Please do your research before just making such statements. Check your privilege.’

Another staff member said: ‘People are struggling with serious mental health issues and having our leadership tell us to shut up and pull ourselves up by our boot straps is heartbreaking.’ 

One said: ‘Did Bill Michael say unconscious bias is just c**p? Herein lies the issue. Whilst the training may not be effective, to say it doesn’t exist is just reckless.’ 

Mr Michael today said it had been a ‘privilege’ to work at KPMG and said: ‘I love the firm and I am truly sorry that my words have caused hurt amongst my colleagues and for the impact the events of this week have had on them.’  

Video of the virtual town hall on Monday shows Mr Michael say: ‘And now is there time to say ‘well do you care enough?’. 

‘Right, I don’t think this point of, what do you call it? Unconscious bias. I think unconscious bias is complete c**p. Complete and utter c**p for years. 

‘There is no such thing as unconscious bias. I don’t buy it. Because after every single unconscious bias training that’s ever been done, nothing’s ever improved. 

‘So unless you care, you actually won’t change. 

‘And I think there’s a lot more care, more generally, to change. And we are in a very lucky sector…’

The majority of KPMG’s 16,000 UK staff have been working from home during lockdown rather than from their Canary Wharf office in the City of London.

The Big Four accountancy firm announced an 11 per cent salary slash to the firm’s 582 partners to safeguard jobs and providing more wriggle room to make new hires of graduates.

Partners still pocketed an average of £572,000, down from £640,000 the previous year. 

Monday’s virtual meeting centred on discussion about possible cuts to employees bonuses and pensions.

Mr Michael, casually dressed in a blue polo shirt, is seen telling those on the call to stop playing the victim card.

He says: ‘Take as much influence of your own diary, of your own life of whatever. 

‘Because I have spoken to a lot of partners and people at all sorts of levels where it almost feels that this is being done to them. 

‘Well, you can’t play the role of victim unless you’re sick. I hope you’re not sick and you’re not ill and if you’re not take control of your life. 

‘Don’t sit there and moan about it, quite frankly.’ 

Outraged staff later complained about Mr Michael’s comments.   

Mr Michael also angered some staff when he told them he had been meeting clients for coffee.

One attendee said: ‘He literally said, ‘I know I’m breaking the law’ to meet up with people during the pandemic.’

Another staff member said: ‘People are struggling with serious mental health issues and having our leadership tell us to shut up and pull ourselves up by our boot straps is heartbreaking.’ 

The message board for colleagues to register grievances reportedly stopped working soon after.

A recording of the Zoom call shows Bill Michael tell around 1,500 consultants at the top City firm ‘you can’t play the role of victim unless you’re sick’

Mrs Michael’s wife Chloe smiles today as she declined to comment on her husband’s words on a Zoom conference

The majority of KPMG’s 16,000 UK staff have been working from home during lockdown rather than from their Canary Wharf office in the City of London.

The firm says it has put a ‘range of support measures’ in place to help employees:

– A ‘working from home podcast’ to help colleagues stay connected with each other

– A Staying Connected Buddying scheme

– ‘Flex’ hours to log on at the times that suit them and their caring commitments

– New mental health and wellbeing resources 

– A special leave code, enabling people to take unlimited time off to care for family and friends during the pandemic

– Access to our BeWell service – a confidential support line offering 24/7 assistance as well as specialist support for any potential victims of domestic violence 

– The Unmind app, providing confidential tools and training that support mental health and wellbeing 

Mr Michael apologised for his remarks at the end of the meeting and later said in a statement: ‘I am sorry for the words I used, which did not reflect what I believe in, and I have apologised to my colleagues. 

‘Looking after the wellbeing of our people and creating a culture where everyone can thrive is of critical importance to me and is at the heart of everything we do as a firm.’

Mr Michael, who took the reins at KPMG in 2017, also sent an all-staff email expressing ‘regret’ for his language. 

He alluded to his own hospital battle with Covid last March and said he understood the toll the pandemic was taking. 

Mr Michael’s tenure has been plagued by criticism, including of KPMG’s role as auditor of the liquidated government contractor Carillion and of a ‘toxic culture’ in the office. 

KPMG is one of the Big Four accounting firms which includes Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

The firm reported a 2 per cent fall in revenue in the year to September 30 to £2.3billion.  

However, KPMG did not furlough any of its staff during the pandemic, and is even overhauling its offices at the cost of £44million and bolstering remote working technology.

It followed a similar trend among rivals. Deloitte announced a 17 per cent cut in average partner pay to £731,000 last September.

PwC said in December that its partner pay fell 10 per cent to £685,000. EY’s average partner pay slipped just 1.8pc to £667,000.

KPMG also added it has put in place ‘a range of support measures’ to help employees adjust to remote working, including new mental health resources, ‘flex’ hours and a company podcast to help colleagues stat connected.

It has also implemented a ‘Staying Connected Buddying scheme’ and established a confidential support line offering 24/7 assistance as well as specialist support for any potential victims of domestic violence.

The ‘Donald Trump’ of KPMG: Fast-talking £1.7million chairman from Australia who was compared to ‘The Donald’ for his swaggering style but now has been forced to step aside after complaints from ‘woke’ staff

The KPMG boss forced out by ‘woke’ staff upset by his straight-talking online seminar is a self-made ‘red-blooded’ Australian who was branded the ‘Donald Trump’ candidate before getting the £1.7million-a-year top job, MailOnline can reveal today.

Melbourne-born Bill Michael, 52, told consultants asking him about pay, pension and bonus cuts to cease ‘playing the role of victim’ and called the concept of unconscious bias ‘complete c**p’. 

His warning to staff to ‘stop moaning’ in lockdown came after KPMG’s annual results revealed that its hundreds of partners still earned an average of £572,000 each in 2020, despite the pandemic that is expected to see hundreds of thousands of Britons lose their jobs.  

A recording of a Zoom meeting on Monday shows Bill Michael telling employees they are in ‘a very lucky sector’ and should not ‘sit there and moan’.

But today Mr Michael, who has apologised, is at his £3million home in Richmond, south-west London, as KPMG investigates the incident on Monday night. He lives there with his glamorous wife Chloe and their three children Alex, Sofia and Xanthe.

It is not known what Mrs Michael thinks of her husband’s comments but judging by her social media posts extolling the positive effects of lockdown, calling it a ‘reset for humanity’, it is possible she too may not like people moaning about the pandemic either.

However, she is also passionate about green issues, especially the banning of plastics in supermarkets, meaning she is likely to have something on common with ‘woke’ KPMG staff calling for her husband to be sacked.  

Australian KPMG boss Bill Michael, pictured with his wife Chloe, has been suspended as chairman of the UK business after staff were offended by his words on a virtual conference this week

Mrs Michael’s wife Chloe smiles today as she declined to comment on her husband’s words on a Zoom conference

The accounting company boss lives in a gated home in Richmond, said to be worth around £3million

Chloe Michael was all smiles as her husband stayed inside their £3 million detached home in Richmond busy making telephone calls after his suspension.

Asked for her feelings at their five bedroom house over the controversy, she said she could not comment.

But she added: ‘There are many things he has to go through with the firm so I don’t think it is going to be appropriate for him to say anything. ‘

Mr Michael was touted as the ‘red-blooded’ candidate to replace his more refined predecessor Simon Collins, a former banker who opened a private members’ club in Mayfair and loves fast cars.

In contrast Bill, whose Greek and Cypriot immigrant parents brought him up in working-class Melbourne, drives a VW Golf and enjoys watching Hitchcock movies and listening to The Beatles.

State-educated Mr Michael went to Melbourne University before moving to London in 1992, joining KMPG as a trainee accountant. He has been at the business ever since.

Profiling him before becoming Chairman, The Sunday Times’ Oliver Shah said he was a ‘chunky, fast-talking Australian’ who did not initially appear to many as ‘the obvious person to steer KPMG through potentially treacherous political waters’.

But that colleagues called him a ‘tough, commercial operator’ and ‘a very intellectually able guy’ who ‘lives in the real world’.

When asked about staff calling him ‘the Donald Trump candidate’ for the chairman’s job, ‘That’s not a joke that would resonate with me’, he replied, without laughing.

But people in the industry who believe the ‘big four’ accountancy firms, including KPMG, need shaking up, some welcomed his appointment ‘as a vote for a return to a more red-blooded style’.

He has a largely fixed routine, which before lockdown, saw him travelling a lot, especially to the US and Hong Kong.

Now he appears to split his time between home and the office because of lockdown.

Rising at 5.45am, he is at Canary Wharf before 7.30am to log on, and swim before the pandemic.

He told The Sunday Times that he would go to evening events most nights of the week but always be home on a Friday for 5pm to see his daughter play netball. He would also try to avoid working weekends to spend time with his wife and children.  

It is not known what Mrs Michael thinks of her husband’s comments, she is supporting him at home

But judging by her social media posts extolling the positive effects of lockdown, calling it a ‘reset for humanity’, she may agree with her husband

Source: Read Full Article