KPMG UK chairman resigns after staff meeting gaffe

Bill Michael accepts position ‘untenable’ after telling staff to ‘stop moaning’ over Covid stresses

The chairman of KMPG in the UK has resigned after reportedly telling staff to “stop moaning” about worries over possible cuts to pensions, pay and bonuses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bill Michael will step down from his position at the audit giant after his comments during a conference call on Monday.

He 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.

"In light of that, I regard my position as untenable and so I have decided to leave the firm. It has been a privilege to have acted as chair of KPMG.


“I feel hugely proud of all our people and the things they have achieved, particularly during these very challenging times.”

KPMG had already elevated two female partners on a temporary basis to cover his roles and vowed to overhaul an unpopular performance management system in an attempt to calm relations with staff amid the ongoing probe into remarks made by Mr Michael, who had stepped aside as KPMG UK chairman on Wednesday.

“The firm has asked Bina Mehta, as senior elected board member, to step in as acting chair of the board and Mary O’Connor, head of clients and markets to assume Bill’s day-to-day executive responsibilities as acting senior partner during the period of the investigation,” Zoe Sheppard, a KPMG representative, said in an emailed statement.

The Financial Times reported earlier that the accounting firm told its 600 partners about the appointments at an online meeting on Thursday.

It is the first time in KPMG’s 150-year history that either role has been held by a woman.

KPMG said on Wednesday that Mr Michael was stepping aside while the firm probes comments he made this week, after a report that he dismissed staff concerns about job stress during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Financial Times on Tuesday reported that Michael apologised after telling consultants in an online meeting to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

He also said staff should stop “playing the victim card,” and two insiders reported he told staff that he was meeting clients for coffee despite lockdown rules, the newspaper said.

His remarks triggered angry responses from some staff on an app used to post comments anonymously during the meeting, the FT reported. – Reuters