Accounting and consulting firm KPMG celebrated its 50th anniversary in the Cayman Islands at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Friday night.
The event theme “Past, Present and Future” was not only reflected by three areas that guests progressed through during the evening, but also by the attendance of the firm’s current and former managing partners.
Mike Austin started KPMG in Cayman in 1966 in the Watler building, at the location of today’s Royal Watler Terminal, where most businesses and law firms were based in those days.
At a time when the financial services industry only started to develop and the government first aimed to attract businesses from overseas, Mr. Austin began his work for Peat Marwick Mitchell, as the company was then known, in a 10-foot-square office with one desk and one filing cabinet.
“Times were hard in those days,” he said. “West Bay Road was simply a marl track, mosquitoes were rife, there was no television, no radio and Cayman Airways was known as Cayman Brac Airways.”
In his 23 years as managing partner, the company changed its name to KPMG and moved offices three times to keep up with the growth of the firm, from one to more 40 staff, including five partners.
“I am proud of the accounting profession, not just KPMG, but all the accounting firms here,” Mr. Austin said. “The accounting profession has really provided Cayman well over the years with training, with employment and with the development of international standards.”
Mr. Austin handed over the reins to Theo Bullmore, who led the company from 1992 to 2007, when KPMG grew to more than 200 employees and 13 partners before Roy McTaggart took over as managing partner.
Mr. McTaggart said it would have been incredible to think that “at this point in my life, I am standing here amongst you as the minister of finance for my country.”
KPMG has played a big role in his personal development since he joined the company in 1985, he said.
“I have had some of the best mentors one could ever hope for: Mike Austin, who was the managing partner at the time and saw the value in me and gave me a chance,” he noted.
“Tonight, we celebrate 50 years of KPMG and that in itself is a masterful achievement,” Mr. McTaggart said. “I am proud of the legacy that I helped build.”
He added that he is also proud of the people who remain at KPMG, for the work that they do, for the way that they uphold the values of the firm, for the way that they lead and for the impact they make in the community.
Kevin Lloyd, KPMG’s managing partner for the past five years, said each of his predecessors left a lasting impression and legacy.
Despite all the changes over the decades, the firm always managed to retain its culture, he noted.
“That’s one of the ways that I think we can make a difference.”
Today KPMG has a staff of 340 from 35 countries and a 50-50 split of men and women, including five female partners over the years. “What’s different about us is that we respect and harness the different skill sets and backgrounds and experience of all of our people,” Mr. Lloyd said.
KPMG managed to retain its culture by hiring the right people and then investing in them. Mr. Lloyd highlighted that in 2004, KPMG was awarded the Investor in People designation and has since attained the gold-level standard that only 5 percent of the designated companies receive. And each year the firm has been recognized at the Top Employer awards.
“Our scholarship spend this year approaches $500,000. We are supporting 12 Caymanian students [studying] overseas. Our investment in learning and development this year is $1.25 million.”
Mr. Lloyd also emphasized the local partnerships with King Flowers, through KPMG’s anchor tenancy at Cricket Square, and with Dart in the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit, as well as the trust of local service providers, as important factors in the firm’s development.
“I am really optimistic for our future and that of the Cayman Islands because in my view they are inextricably linked,” he concluded.