How do we organize tomorrow's mobility? KPMG actively participates in creating solutions to this challenge, relevant to us all, both in support of its own sustainability goals and through contracts for companies and government bodies.
In addition to providing advice and services to, among others, industry, the banking and insurance sector and the energy sector, KPMG also plays a significant role in the public sector; especially in the transformation of internal operational models and the optimization of service provision to citizens and enterprises. "The government can't handle everything by itself either," says Geert Criel, Director Public Sector. "Certainly not in these times of globalization, disruptive technological developments and increasingly demanding citizens, who expect not just a prompt qualitative service, but more transparency and cost efficiency as well. We believe KPMG can provide government organizations with clear added value, but we also consider our services to the government part of our social responsibility."
Governments face large and complex challenges. In Belgium, KPMG focuses on four policy areas: the health care supply chain, security chain, economic and fiscal administration and mobility. Geert Criel emphasizes that this commitment goes deeper than just executing concrete projects. "We strive to make our key accounts long-term partnerships. To remain relevant to government cabinets and administrations, we don't just keep ourselves up-to-date on policy memos and strategic plans, but also ensure that our experts are well aware of national and international developments in these areas. Before specifications are ever defined, we enter into dialog to determine what's keeping our (potential) clients up at night. As we prepare and implement new solutions, we make sure to consult with the various stakeholders as needed to help establish support for change. That's the only way to make changes successfully."
KPMG is and has been involved in countless government mobility projects. Examples include implementing road pricing for trucks in Belgium's three regions and supporting STIB and De Lijn public transport in areas such as procurement policy, asset and financial management, and soon, rolling out a Smart City policy for the Brussels-Capital Region. To citizens, the progress often seems much too slow, but Geert Criel puts it in perspective. "Look at the transformation from De Post to Bpost: proof that a sluggish state-owned company can become a modern, efficient service provider.
The fact is, government institutions just can't always change direction rapidly. Besides, major transformation projects often fail because only the IT perspective is considered, when really, they're business transformations – the model in which we specialize."
Apart from such well known issues as traffic flow, congestion, safety and coordination of the various transport options, KPMG identifies three additional disruptive trends. These will affect mobility in the coming years, and the government will need to take them into account in the infrastructure, regulations and service provision.
Geert Criel: "The breakthrough of self-controlled and electric vehicles is a fact, although we can't predict exactly when the tipping point will be. We'll also be seeing more and more smart mobility solutions. All players active in the mobility arena will have to adapt their business models: the transportation sector above all, of course, but also telecom and energy companies, banks, insurance companies and, last but not least, the government."
The key question remains, how do we fix our mobility problem? Geert Criel is optimistic. "We stand at the beginning of a transformation. Road pricing for trucks was the first step, and in Flanders that's now evolving to include road pricing for private vehicles as well. There are experiments with smart traffic lights to improve traffic flow and all kinds of modal shift initiatives. Those should result in better combinations of available modes of transportation and higher capacity utilization of public transportation. As you see, there's plenty going on in the mobility sector, which KPMG will continue to actively employ for our clients going forward."
KMPG itself also contributes to fixing our traffic problem. Cash for Cars or a mobility budget? To Koen Maerevoet, CEO of KPMG Belgium, the choice is clear. "Cash for Cars is purely a tax solution, with only limited impact. We opted for a true mobility solution, allowing our employees to make their own choices on how to employ the mobility-related portion of their salary. We're not asking anyone to give up their company car, instead we’re offering a system with day-to-day flexibility and allowing people to try out various alternatives. Those choosing a smaller vehicle, or no company car at all, can apply the savings to something else."
The system is twofold. Employees can pick different mobility solutions each year (a larger or smaller vehicle, perhaps combined with a public transport card, no car at all, an electric bicycle …). Using the Reflex tool, they can put together their own mobility budget. A handy app tells them the easiest, fastest route from Point A to Point B: taking a train, a bike, or by car after all. Every day an employee leaves their car untouched earns them EUR 5 net.
"Offering alternative modes of transportation has only really become viable since our move to the airport in Zaventem, a public transport hub. We've also provided showers and lockers for bikers," says Maerevoet. "Initially we were a little worried that we wouldn't have enough parking here, but that's proved a non-issue. I'm starting to appreciate the comfort of traveling and working in the train myself."
KPMG's figures show that in 2017, only 62% of Belgium's 100 largest companies reported on CSR, while the average for top 100 companies worldwide is 77%. Looking at the 250 major companies worldwide, as many as 93% reported on CSR.
"Calculating and reporting on a company's social and economic impact is vital," states Koen Maerevoet, CEO of KPMG Belgium. "Not just to the company itself, but to all the stakeholders too: its own employees, clients, suppliers, nearby residents and the government, of course. Since 2017, many companies have a legal obligation to report on this non-financial data. That means there's work to be done, and we can help."
KMPG strives to provide a good example itself wherever possible. "Naturally, we support the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We chose six on which to focus our efforts, including Decent Work and Climate Action. The first one speaks for itself: integrity is essential to what we do. Translating that concept into concrete action and measuring progress to keep working on our performance remain interesting, though. As to climate, we decrease our environmental footprint through such measures as our choice of a new office location, near public transport hubs, and our mobility approach, stimulating employees to seek other means of transportation besides their car. However, the most notable are our new headquarters, BREEAM certified as extremely sustainable, and our transition to a paperless organization. To give an idea of how that compares to the old days: approximately 30 tons of paper were taken for recycling when we moved."