November 19, 2018

Bruce Pfau

Decoding the Latest KPMG HR Talking Points

FINS published an interview with Bruce Pfau, KPMG’s vice chair of Human Resources, on Monday, with the topics ranging from, “getting a foot in the door, poaching amongst the Big Four, the firm’s push into environmental advice and its goal to capture the best and brightest on U.S. college campuses.”

You can read the entire interview here, but good luck understanding the HR-code served by Pfau. Calm your fears, you don’t need a Ouija board in order to understand the current state of the KPMG Kamp. Below is my best attempt to translate Bruce.

Kyle Stock: Can you provide a geneent hiring?
Bruce Pfau: Each year we hire a couple of thousand people from [college] campuses into our audit, tax and advisory practices. In addition to full-time people, we’re also hiring interns.

We’re also very focused on making sure that we’re keeping an eye on creating a diverse workforce compliment.

DWB – Yes, we’re still hiring. But hell, we have to. We’ve committed to interns and fulltime hires going forward multiple years. Remember when the bottom fell out in late 2008? Yeah, we already had 2010 kids signed up. Also, non-English speaking professionals help out with our diversity statistics; even H.R. has numbers targets. Have fun in that client meeting!

KS: It seems that some of these concentrations would favor certain geographies, are there any specific parts of the country where the firm is growing?
BP: You can pretty much gather from some of the areas of focus that there will be some geographic concentration. We have a gigantic financial footprint in New York, but that doesn’t mean we’re not hiring financial folks on the West coast as well. And we’re obviously beefing up in developing countries — in China, Southeast Asia, India.

DWB – Yes, I used the word “gigantic” to officially describe our position. PS – if you’re not in the gigantic New York market or the west coast, you’re dead weight. Expect cuts or consolidations in offices. Conversely, thank you to our folks in the Big Apple and the Silicon Valley for keeping our pants on these past 18-24 months. Your free Phil hat is in the mail.

KS: KPMG also recently hired the United Nations’ chief climate change expert, Yvo De Boer. Can we expect the firm to offer more environmental advice?
BP: We’re looking to expand our footprint in that area, not only in the standpoint of the firm’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen environmentally and having our own green efforts, but also to try to utilize some of his capabilities, knowledge and relationships to expand our business and gain higher visibility in that space globally — areas like carbon evaluation and emissions trading.

DWB – We finally moved away from paper audits, didn’t we?

KS: You recently hired a new partner in charge of campus recruiting, Stacy Sturgeon. Is the firm taking any new directions there?
BP: I don’t expect to see any major changes in our approach there. We’ve spent the last several years taking campus recruiting to a new level. We’ve redoubled our relationships there and did a variety of things to make sure that our message is getting across to the best and brightest students.

DWB – Hell no, we ain’t changing a thing. There will always be a slew of helicopter parents shoving their over-achieving children into an accounting career. Our traps are set. Fish. In. Barrels.

KS: Do you engage in recruiting via social media and has it proved to be valuable?
BP: Yes. Obviously, [we use] the electronic job-boards and things of that nature. The Facebook-type forums we’re obviously participating in as well, though I cannot say it has transformed our hiring at that level. It’s more of an incremental difference. Our hiring at the more junior level really has a lot to do with sustained relationships with students. Huge percentages of the people that we bring in from campus have done an interview with us. That’s the best social interaction that we can have [with them].

We believe that we’re a great place to build a career.

DWB – we always have and always will scour the Monster.com’s of the world for tax and advisory talent. Audit is a lost cause. I don’t have a freakin’ clue about Facebook. My kids are on it. Our first year associates swear by it. Some of our managers think it’s suave to “friend” their staff. But just like everyone else in the universe, no here has figured out how to profit it from the networking site.

But newsflash – we interview kids on campus, not on Facebook. Most of them, that is. There’s a select group that have parents at important clients that we let into the KPMG Kamp for free. And do you like that last line about building a career? Yeah, I’m paid to say that.

KS: You mentioned culture, how is KPMG’s culture different from the other three of the Big Four?
BP: Our cultures are way more similar than they are different.

I strongly believe that we face the same challenges, we recruit the same kinds of individuals, we’re in the same business — there’s a lot that’s similar. Where we differ is in a few areas.

First, although all of the firms have a good record in this, I truly believe that our firm has a remarkable culture of corporate social responsibility and volunteerism. I think that that’s something that really is a little bit different at KPMG. I literally could go on and on about how our people have risen to the occasion in that area.

The second thing is the whole area of continuous learning and development. We want to differentiate ourselves as being a great place to build a career.

DWB – We’re all accountants; how different can we be? In terms of volunteerism, what other accounting firm stuffed bears instead of getting blitzed on light beers and chardonnay? That’s what I thought. Build a bear, build a career (I said it again!). Come on, this was a brilliant idea.

A brilliant idea that us partners are still paying for. $*%@.