(UPDATE) KPMG, in the Midst of Grief, Is Reminding the Academic Community of Their Business Success and Enthusiastic Employees

The KPMG apology tour continues. Well, maybe it isn't an "apology tour." It's more like, "KPMG: We can explain," tour. Actually, no, it's not that either. It's more of a "KPMG: Can you believe what this guy did?" tour with support from "This is NOT what we stand for." That has been the message to both present and future employees. 

But earlier today, we were notified of a slightly different message coming from the firm. This one was to the academic community and it started out with a very familiar tone:  

From: John Veihmeyer (Chairman)
Date: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 5:15 PM
Subject: A Message from KPMG Chairman and CEO John Veihmeyer
To: 
 
Dear Valued Faculty Member:
 
I want to update you on a matter of importance to KPMG and our profession as a whole. I’m sure by now you are aware of the actions of our former partner and audit leader of our Los Angeles business unit, who provided non-public client information to a third party, who then used that information in stock trades.
Veihz can't bear to say his name. You're dead to him, Scott. 
 
Sorry, moving on:
This appalling situation was the result of a single rogue individual, acting contrary to everything that we stand for as a firm. Once we learned of his unlawful actions, we immediately separated him from the firm, unequivocally condemned his actions, and expressed our deep regret for the impact that his violations of trust and the law have had on our clients and our people. In addition, recognizing that our independence was impaired, we swiftly made the decision to resign as the auditor of two clients for which this individual served as lead partner.
 
As part of KPMG’s comprehensive Ethics and Compliance Program, we have a rigorous system in place to prevent insider trading, including policies, processes, training, monitoring, and enforcement. This individual violated our policies, betrayed the trust of clients as well as colleagues, and acted with deliberate disregard for our long-standing culture of professionalism and integrity that guides the actions of all of our people.
 
We recognize that this is an important time for our profession. And as Chairman and CEO of KPMG, I want you and your students to know that we are committed to handling this unfortunate matter with the utmost degree of professionalism, integrity, urgency, and transparency.
 
I believe—and I hope you agree—that the true measure of any firm is not a single individual’s unethical actions, but rather how the organization responds when it becomes aware of behavior that is wholly inconsistent with the culture and values of the firm. We believe that by responding quickly and transparently to this matter, we are demonstrating the professionalism and integrity that is the essence of KPMG. Our clients and our people have been fully supportive, and we remain fully committed to providing high-quality service to our clients, and remaining an employer of choice for our people.
Seems pretty standard, right? Actually, those three paragraphs are exactly the same words used in the message to the firm's future associates. Verbatim.
 
That's a little lazy from my point of view. Regardless of what Michael Andrew thinks, this is a bad situation for the firm to find itself in and the message is being recycled? You can placate the press all you want, but the firm needs these faculty and future employees to believe what they're saying is genuine and not just some tanked email.
 
Anyway, enough of that. Here's where it starts getting weird:
Our firm has grown nearly 20 percent in the past two years, and is positioned for solid growth in 2013. As proud as we are of our growth, we are prouder still of the enthusiasm our employees have about building careers at KPMG. In our most recent employee work environment survey, four out of five of our employees and 93 percent of first-year associates told us that KPMG is a great place to build a career.  And we look forward to welcoming your students as interns this summer or as full-time hires this fall. 
Seems out of place, doesn't it? Well, a person in the academic community thought so too, and told us, "I am not the only faculty member who was put off by the tone in paragraph six." The sentiment would have better, this person told us, if it had been straight to the point and not taken this odd turn into a sales opportunity.
 
We've reached out to other faculty members for their opinions of the message, but we'd love to hear from others as well, so any profs out there that want to opine can email us thoughts or comment below.
 
UPDATE, Friday April 26: We heard from another professor who was a little more indifferent to the tone saying, " I did not have any strong reactions to it one way or another. I was not bothered by paragraph six," so maybe the message isn't as tacky as we thought? The cynical types have pointed out that the firms are on all the time; that is, every message is an opportunity to sell, regardless of the circumstances.

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