KPMG UK names new boss after 'stop moaning' controversy

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
KPMG UK's new chief executive Jon Holt. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK
KPMG UK's new chief executive Jon Holt. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

KPMG UK has appointed a new chief executive after the auditing giant's last leader quit in the midst of controversy.

Jon Holt, a near 30-year KPMG veteran, was elected "with overwhelming support" from KPMG's 582 partners, the company said in a statement on Monday. Holt is currently KPMG UK's head of audit. He will take up the new role immediately and serve a tenure until 2025.

"I’m very grateful for the support of the partnership and excited about the future for our firm," Holt said in a statement.

“KPMG has a great opportunity, as we exit the pandemic, to support our clients and help them build and grow their businesses during this period of profound change. I am confident that KPMG has the people, skills and expertise to grasp this opportunity."

Holt replaces Bill Michaels who resigned in February following controversy about comments made to staff. Michaels, who had run KPMG since 2017, told staff to "stop moaning" about COVID-19, asked employees to stop “playing the victim card", and said unconscious bias was "complete crap", according to the Financial Times.

Michaels apologised for his comments but resigned after concluding his position was "untenable". 

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“Now is the time to challenge ways of working and use what we’ve learnt during the pandemic to really drive positive action," Holt said. "This is the moment for leaders to adapt their operations, reduce their environmental footprint and recruit diverse talent right across the UK.  

"I am passionate about driving this change. There must be no limit in business to where talent, achievement and hard work can take you, whoever you are and whatever your background.”

Bina Mehta, who took over from Michaels as chair of KPMG UK, said: "Jon’s extensive experience and inclusive leadership style means he is well placed to deliver the next stage of our growth strategy and support our clients as the country emerges from the pandemic.”

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