KPMG UK plans to make redundant about one-third of its 630 administrative assistants in a wave of cost-cutting.
Between 200 and 250 administrative support staff are expected to leave in the savings drive at the Big Four accounting firm.
Personal assistants have contacted other professional services firms seeking alternative work in recent weeks as they are worried about their careers, according to managers at other firms.
The restructuring means some partners, particularly in non-client facing roles, will no longer have access to a personal assistant. Partners are also being encouraged to file their own expenses as part of the changes.
Secretaries who keep their jobs will have their job title changed to “executive assistant”, according to a source close to KPMG. The source said the company will create 24 new support roles in its Birmingham office, where it runs an administrative function, as part of the restructuring.
A spokesperson for KPMG said: “We are not taking these steps lightly, but we believe the proposed structure will enable us to deliver the best possible experience for our clients. We are now in the process of consulting with affected staff on the plans.”
She added that the restructure was part of an 18-month plan by KPMG to “refocus” the firm by investing in its audit business and changing its governance structure.
Several professional services companies have slashed administrative and support roles to reduce costs in recent years. Law firms including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and Freshfields have shrunk their expensive London offices by moving entire administrative functions to other cities including Belfast and Manchester.
EY this summer restructured its marketing unit, although only a handful of jobs were eliminated. A senior manager at EY said each of its secretaries usually worked for two or three partners after their number dwindled slowly with advnaces in technology over the past decade.
KPMG, which saw profits grow 18 per cent to £356 million last year, has been battling to defend its reputation after issues surfaced including scrutiny over its audit work for the collapsed outsourcer Carillion, a corruption scandal in South Africa and a series of senior partner exits. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019