As KPMG in Malta celebrates its 50th anniversary, Senior Partner Tonio Zarb talks about how the home-grown auditing, advisory and tax firm has grown over time as part of the KPMG global network.
The year is 1969 and an accountant by the name of Joseph Tabone has just opened a new financial auditing firm. Within a decade, Joseph Tabone & Co. has 50 employees and represents one of the world’s most prestigious and influential financial auditing, tax and advisory firms in the world, KPMG. By 1997, Joseph Tabone & Co. is accepted as a member firm of the KPMG network of independent firms and rebrands to ‘KPMG’.
“Throughout this process, we had to take ourselves out of the mind-set of a local independent firm and take on the forward-looking, global culture of KPMG,” explains Senior Partner, Tonio Zarb, who first joined Joseph Tabone & Co. in 1979.
Today, as one enters KPMG’s newly-refurbished premises in Pietà, it’s obvious that the firm has managed the task and is ready to continue going forward in a story that began 50 years ago. Yet, as it celebrates this milestone, KPMG Malta is not looking to shed any of its past, but rather to build on it.
In the office refurbishment alone, the firm invested around €5 million to create 5,400m2 of office space to house its ever growing number of people – 410 in the last count excluding some 175 students enrolled in its Graduate Recruitment Programme and who will join the firm over the next few years. “Our aim is to create an environment for talented people with a culture that emphasises the value and importance of personal growth as well as a commitment to quality in everything we do,” Mr Zarb adds.
“Some may underestimate the values that drive the culture a firm like ours,” he continues, “but, in reality, culture is incredibly important. Trust and quality remain at the forefront of our priorities and are core to everything we do. The first message all of our new recruits hear when they join KPMG that is our commitment to living our values each and every day, and the role they individually play in earning and sustaining public trust.” Mr Zarb explains that he delivers this message personally in the first session of the induction training that every new employee must attend. “As an organisation we strive to underpin these values with training, systems and ongoing monitoring to ensure we deliver quality which meets our public interest responsibilities.”
The KPMG in Malta Annual Review for 2018 refers to the results of the Global People Survey last held in October last year. Over 90% of the people in KPMG in Malta took this survey and 95% confirmed that they are proud to work for KPMG and that its commitment to quality is apparent in what they do on a day-to-day basis.
KPMG in Malta employs professionals with a diverse set of backgrounds including accountants and auditors, lawyers, tax specialists, risk professionals, corporate finance practitioners, as well as software engineers, computer scientists, and data and analytics experts in order to help meet clients’ digital transformation challenges.
“Our people work on a very wide array of client needs and challenges. Often these are complex engagements requiring deep expertise that we consistently deliver at the required quality also by applying KPMG’s global methodologies and tools. KPMG people are globally-minded, and we continue to support our people in taking on secondment opportunities with other KPMG offices from New York to the Channel Islands, enabling them to expand their skills and business knowledge while taking on new challenges.”
Indeed, KPMG in Malta is growing at an impressive rate, adding 29% in revenue in its last financial year, with new services being added each year. “This exceptional growth was triggered by our investment in our practice over the last few years. For instance, since 2016 we have added a People and Change practice, KPMG Software, the KPMG Learning Academy and a strategy service line.”
In Malta, KPMG has also invested in KPMG Crimsonwing through a joint venture between the UK, Dutch and Malta firms. KPMG Crimsonwing is an international solutions provider based in Malta with subsidiaries in the UK and the Netherlands that supports organisations in business transformation enabled by technology, with a focus on Microsoft Dynamics solutions. This brings KPMG’s total people count in Malta to 650 and total revenue at just below €49 million.
“You can’t take growth for granted,” Mr Zarb explains. “Our question is always: where should we invest next? Over the past two years, we have been very active in transforming KPMG to meet the challenges and more importantly, the opportunities of the digital age. Our aim is to combine KPMG’s deep business expertise with leading edge technology. To achieve this we have to operate in new ways, become more agile; but, above all, we have to drive innovation, enabling us to disrupt the status quo, and grow, and, at the same time, to support our clients in doing the same. Finally our clients will have the final say on how rapidly we grow and the direction of that growth.”
What these past 50 years have taught KPMG Malta – and, indeed, anyone else who had their eyes on the ball – is that innovation is extremely important in today’s ever-changing world, but keeping a steady focus and never losing sight of one’s values, is crucial to survive and thrive… In fact, we have no doubt that KPMG Malta will continue to grow steadily but surely with that frame of mind.
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