KPMG dives into strategy business with new practice

Lynne Doughtie, Vice Chair - Advisory, KMPG
David Neff © 2013 David Neff 212-243-1895

KPMG, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, is getting even bigger.

Today, the company is announcing plans to create a new strategy-consulting unit. KPMG, which is already advising approximately one-third of the Fortune 100 on strategy, is creating its own strategy unit to keep up with growing demand for its services. KPMG Strategy will be housed under the company’s advisory practice. While the firm will not disclose how many employees will work directly for the new unit, KPMG says 900 employees across 35 firms around the world are “aligned” with the venture.

Lynne Doughtie, KPMG’s vice chair of advisory and the only woman currently leading the U.S. advisory and consulting practice of a big four firm, will oversee KPMG Strategy.

“Strategy is the starting point for a transformation that needs to occur and how that company must change to win,” says Doughtie. “We can provide a point of view and a vision into the future for our clients within their respective industries.”

The company decided to dive deeper into strategy because of the fast-paced direction Doughtie and others are seeing the business world move in. From rapidly changing technologies to increased regulatory pressure, Doughtie says she is seeing KPMG clients asking for more forward-looking services to grow shareholder value and keep up with competitors. While KPMG already offers audit, tax and advisory services, strategy will allow the firm to think more long-term with clients about how they can shape their businesses.

The move pulls KPMG into the already saturated space of strategy consulting. The other members of the big four — Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young – all offer strategy services while consulting firms like Bain & Company, BCG and McKinsey market themselves as strategy experts as well. Yet Doughtie is still lauding KPMG’s push as unique. Unlike Deloitte and EY, which respectively acquired strategy businesses within the last two years, KPMG is building out its new unit largely from talent it already has in house. This will allow KPMG Strategy clients to take advantage of the wide-range of services the firm offers outside of the specific strategy unit, says Doughtie.

“Our whole approach to delivering strategy to our clients is having a very integrated approach,” she added. “Many of the strategy houses don’t have the depth of world-class risk capability that a KPMG has, particularly in industries where regulation is a key driver such as financial services or healthcare.”

Doughtie’s advisory business has approximately $3 billion in annual revenue and more than 10,000 employees. The key challenge for any company this size in her industry is to constantly evolve and change with the market, she says. While five years ago the traditional strategy houses owned this space, Goliaths like KPMG are being forced to rapidly transform the services they offer to remain relevant.

“In my almost 30 years here, I have always been looking at what the next market opportunity is,” says Doughtie. “This is the next step in a journey to continue how we evolve.”

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