Explore our history
We've supported the UK through times of war and peace, prosperity and recession, political and regulatory upheaval. We've proudly stood beside the institutions and businesses which make the UK what it is.
Our founder believed in our profession's potential to be a force for good in society as well as the economy. Over the years, we've held onto that idea, striving to break down barriers inside the firm and make a difference outside.
1870 - 1910
A young clerk called William Barclay Peat starts work at the London firm that will eventually take his name.
On the death of Roderick Mackay, the firm takes on Peat's name, becoming W B Peat & Co. Its key offices at that time were Middlesbrough and London.
James Marwick (the 'M' in KPMG) starts an accounting firm in Glasgow, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1886. His career took him to New York – via Australia and Canada – where he opened a practice in 1895. In 1910, Peat and Marwick met aboard the RMS Lusitania in the mid-Atlantic and agreed to merge.
The firm's long history of working with the Royal Family begins. Our founder William Barclay Peat, was appointed as auditor of the Privy Purse by King Edward VII. The firm's partners have now served five monarchs.
Peat argues for women to be admitted to the profession. He is successful, though it took a decade for legislation to come into effect.
New York accountant James Marwick is crossing the Atlantic to visit his newly opened Paris office, when he encounters Peat. During the six-day voyage, the two men find they had much in common, including a shared perspective on professional values, and on 8 October 1910, Peat and Marwick agree to merge aboard the Lusitania. They first adopt Marwick, Mitchell & Peat and later become Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.
Into the wars
1911 - 1945
The brewery Allsopp & Sons look to Peat to save it from bankruptcy in 1911. Peat turns things around for Allsopp – by 1916 they reported profits in the millions in today's money. The company became part of the Carlsberg Group in the early 1990s.
Our firm through wartime
While many of the firm's younger employees fight in the first and second world wars, the leadership provides its expertise to the government.
Sir Harry Peat (William Barclay Peat's son) organises the complex finances of the Ministry of Food in WWI, where it's said he gave his services for free. Twenty years later, at the outbreak of WWII, he accepts the request to do the same job. This time he and several other partners work without pay for the duration of the war.
After the war, the firm supports the growing public sector following a series of nationalisations.
Peat is one of the founding organisers of the Federation of British Industries (now the CBI).
Piet Klynveld (the 'K' in KPMG) opens a small accountancy firm, Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co., in Amsterdam in 1917. By the time of his death in 1946, it was the largest accounting firm in the Netherlands.
Partner Harold Howitt is awarded a Military Cross. He was captured by the Germans and made a daring escape back to British lines, later the basis of John Buchan's 1919 novel Mr Standfast.
Peat is made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by King George, an honour recognising personal service to the monarch.
Ethel Watts becomes the first woman accountant to be admitted to the ICAEW by examination.
World War II: Sir Harry Peat served as financial secretary to the Ministry of Food.
Growing with Britain
1946 - 1986
Striving to drive up accounting standards, ICAEW president and the firm's Senior Partner Ronald Leach sets up the Accounting Standards Steering Committee.
In Scotland, Myra McGregor becomes the first woman to become a partner. In 2019, 50% of colleagues promoted to partner are female.
Dr Reinhard Goerdeler (the 'G' in KPMG) joins the firm Deutsche Treuhand-Gesellschaft in 1953. In 1975, DTG merges with Piet Klynveld's firm to become Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG).
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visit the firm to mark our new London home, at Puddle Dock.
Senior Partner Sir John Grenside plays an important role in developing European accounting standards.
1987 - Today
KMG Thomson McLintock merges into PMM. The new firm in the UK is for a short time known as KPMG Peat Marwick and later just KPMG.
KPMG becomes the first professional services firm to publish an Environmental Policy.
On 1 December, English and French engineers break through to connect the two countries beneath the English Channel. Since its formation in 1971, the British Channel Tunnel Company engaged KPMG as its auditors and advisors on its accounts.
The National Lottery is launched. KPMG advises major projects including the Stonehenge visitor centre, the Tate Modern and the Wales Millennium Centre.
Four Weddings and a Funeral becomes the highest-grossing British film in history. KPMG audited the film's revenue.
KPMG becomes the first professional services firm to introduce a Values Charter.
Ruth Anderson becomes the first woman board member of our firm and the first in the 'Big Five'. In 2019, KPMG is the first of the 'Big Four' to achieve gender parity on its UK board.
KPMG partner, Dame Sheila Masters becomes the first woman to be elected ICAEW president.
The KPMG Foundation is established to tackle educational disadvantage among young people.
KPMG work alongside Manchester City Council to secure funding for all of the facilities used during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Breathe - the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Network at KPMG - launches, promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
KPMG becomes one of the first in the UK to commit to paying the living wage to all UK employees.
KPMG sponsors the City Academy, Hackney, alongside the City of London Corporation, starting an enduring relationship between the school's students and the firm.
Aiming to broaden access to the accounting profession, KPMG launches the ground-breaking new recruitment programme – the KPMG Audit School Leaver Programme.
KPMG is the first of the 'Big Four' to assure our Community Data.
KPMG support the government and the Met Police in creating a safe and secure Olympic Games in London.
Our KPMG360° apprenticeship scheme launches, offering talented young school leavers an alternative way into our profession. In 2019, KPMG welcomed a record 1,900 graduates and apprentices into the firm.
40,000 bees take up residency on the roof of the firm's office in Canary Wharf to demonstrate our commitment to biodiversity.
KPMG launch the IT's Her Future initiative, a programme focusing on improving gender diversity within technology. And it's working. In 2019, female representation in tech roles at KPMG rose to 36%.
KPMG becomes lead sponsor of the Hampton-Alexander Review, which commits to increasing female representation on FTSE boards and senior leadership positions.
KPMG are the first of the 'Big Four' to achieve gender parity in our graduate hires.
KPMG becomes Chair of Access Accountancy, which exists to ensure that everyone has an equal chance of accessing the accountancy profession based on merit, not background.
KPMG is the founding supporter of the first ever National Numeracy Day. Almost 50,000 people have now taken steps to improve their numbers skills as a result of the campaign.
KPMG is named the UK's No.1 employer in the Social Mobility Employer Index.
KPMG becomes the first of the 'Big Four' firms to announce that it will no longer provide non-audit services to audit clients, building trust in the wider profession.
KPMG completes a major investment in Manchester after launching a national technology innovation hub in the city and hiring specialist staff including data scientists, designers, software engineers, project managers and analysts. The new 12,000 sq ft space at the Manchester Technology Centre has been designed around collaboration and development, with access to the local technology and university communities. KPMG now employs more than 1,000 staff in the city.
KPMG marks 150 years since William Barclay Peat joined the firm.