September 21, 2019

KPMG U.K. Lawyers Up Because Not Breaking the Law is Hard, You Guys

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The Financial Times did not hold back in its headline announcing the news on KPMG U.K.’s latest hire earlier this week: KPMG appoints risk management chief after accounting scandals. Ouch. Here, KPMG, you might need this.

So just who is this brave individual willing to take on a brand-new role at a scandal-plagued accounting firm? Mary O’Connor — a lawyer licensed to practice in the both the U.S. and U.K. — comes to the firm by way of the insurance industry, where she headed up client and business development for Willis Towers Watson, an insurance broker in London. O’Connor should not be confused with Hugh Hefner’s former secretary of the same name, as that Mary O’Connor kicked the bucket five years ago and most likely would not be caught dead working for KPMG.

In the 1990s, O’Connor worked in the Washington, DC U.S. attorney’s office prosecuting crack dealers, murderers, and gangbangers, making her uniquely equipped to handle the mean streets of capital markets.

The appointment marks an interesting convergence of risk and legal, the oversight of which has not been combined until this very moment in history. Predictably, KPMG says the new position O’Connor will carve out has absolutely nothing to do with its numerous recent troubles (collapsed audit client Carillion, the Bank of England going around asking clients if they plan to fire KPMG any time soon, et al) but rather an investment in its “risk management processes and procedures.”

“We are operating in a period of significant change, and the risks we are facing are evolving,” said KPMG U.K. Chairman Bill Michael.

As this is entirely new territory, it’s unclear yet how much of O’Connor’s job will be risk management and how much of it will be perceived risk management in response to black marks on KPMG U.K.’s record. Something tells us there will be a lot of figuring it out as they go.

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