A-Z Of Employers: KPMG

KPMG is one of the Big Four accountancy and consulting (it prefers the blander description "professional service") firms in the UK. Along with the traditional role of auditing accounts and advising on tax, it has now expanded into every imaginable area of business. The long list of specific areas includes food and drink, retail, aerospace and defence, communications and healthcare. Clients include ITV, the pharmaceuticals company Roche, the drinks business Diageo, as well as start-up firms and numerous small businesses. Globally, KPMG has nearly 100,000 employees and operates in 148 countries. It was formed in 1987, bringing together accountancy firms with roots in the 19th century, the key players at the final merger being the Anglo-American Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler, a German-Dutch marriage.

Vital statistics:

In the UK, KPMG has 23 offices, housing 9,000 professional staff of whom 550 are partners.

The office:

As you'd expect, the UK headquarters are in London, between Fleet Street and the River Thames. There are several other offices in the capital, and the rest in city centres across the country.

Is this you?

Every year, KPMG takes about 850 graduates, spread across 20 different entry routes, including audit, tax, corporate finance, actuarial and corporate recovery. On top of strong academic ability, you'll need to show an understanding of, and motivation for, the firm's role.

The recruitment process:

All applications are online, at www.kpmg.co.uk/brightminds. You'll get an initial response within 24 hours, and within a month should know whether you've got a job. Selection elements include online reasoning tests and something called an e-tray exercise. Software will also predict your chances of success at professional exams. Face-to-face interviews and an assessment centre complete the process. Most training contracts are for three years and directed towards chartered accountancy exams. You'll be helped towards this goal by colleagues in your department and by a personal mentor. KPMG's trainees have an above-average pass rate at these exams, compared with other accountancy firms.

Top dollar?

Starting salaries vary according to discipline chosen and location. The average starting salary in London is £24,000. One pay rise comes when you pass your exams, and another at the end of the training period. Eligibility for the firm's bonus scheme also kicks in from the second year onwards.

Beam me up Scotty?

Longer-term prospects are steered by a career-development team, who run workshops to help newly qualified staff identify their next role.

Who's the boss?

The chairman since 2002, Mike Rake, joined Peat Marwick Mitchell in 1974. When not engrossed in KPMG affairs, he chairs the charity Business in the Community, and is a keen polo player.

Little known fact:

The average age of a KPMG employee is 32 and the average age of a partner is 44.

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