BusinessDay

X-KPMG and what is left of the change

As chairman (1991 to 1994) of KPMG International, Sir Colin Sharman was always bristling with ideas. I was not the only African on the International Council.

Actually, Chief Anthony Ani was right there when KPMG International was founded in 1987.

“KPMG refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (KPMG International), each of which is a separate legal entity. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee and does not provide services to clients.

Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

In many parts of the world, regulated businesses (such as audit and legal firms) are required by law to be locally owned and independent. KPMG member firms do not, and cannot, operate as a corporate multinational

KPMG is the brand under which the member firms of KPMG International Limited (KPMG International) operate and provide professional services. Each firm is a separate legal entity and together they form the KPMG global organization. “KPMG” is used to refer to individual member firms within the KPMG organization or to one or more member firms collectively.

In many parts of the world, regulated businesses (such as audit and legal firms) are required by law to be locally owned and independent. KPMG member firms do not, and cannot, operate as a corporate multinational. KPMG member firms are generally locally owned and managed. Each KPMG member firm is responsible for its own obligations and liabilities.

Member firms in the KPMG organization are members in, or have other legal connections to, KPMG International, an English private company limited by guarantee. KPMG International acts as the coordinating entity for the overall benefit of the KPMG member firms but does not provide professional services to clients. Professional services to clients are exclusively provided by member firms.

Our structure is designed to support consistency of service quality and adherence to agreed values wherever in the world KPMG member firms operate. KPMG member firms commit to conduct their operations in compliance with a common set of values, standards and service quality expectations. Partners and employees within those firms commit to act with integrity at all times.

KPMG International and the member firms are not a global partnership, single firm, multinational corporation, joint venture, or in a principal or agent relationship or partnership with each other. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International, any of its related entities or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International or any of its related entities have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

Unless otherwise indicated, references in this website to a ‘member firm’ or ‘member firms’ are references to member firms of KPMG International.

KPMG International is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in England and Wales with company number 12474966. The registered office of KPMG International is at 15 Canada Square, London, E14 5GL.

Through helping other organizations mitigate risks and grasp opportunities, we can drive positive, sustainable change for clients, our people and society at large.

KPMG firms operate in 145 countries and territories, and in FY21, collectively employed more than 236,000 people, serving the needs of business, governments, public-sector agencies, not-for-profits and through KPMG firms’ audit and assurance practices, the capital markets. KPMG is committed to quality and service excellence in all that we do, bringing our best to clients and earning the public’s trust through our actions and behaviors both professionally and personally.

We lead with a commitment to quality and integrity across the KPMG global organization, bringing a passion for client success and a purpose to serve and improve the communities in which KPMG firms operate. In a world where rapid change and unprecedented disruption are the new normal, we inspire confidence and empower change in all we do.”

The structure of KPMG International placed great emphasis on the independence of each of the “Federating” firms. The US firm had its own structure. So also did France; Germany; United Kingdom; Australia; India; Hong Kong (China was not yet a force to be reckoned with); Netherlands etc. In essence, we were all equals and sat round the table in no particular pecking order.

Perhaps we should devote an entire chapter to the venues of our Council Meetings and International Conferences. They ranged from the dour to the most exotic parts of the world.

Anyway, it was at one of our Council Meetings which was presided over by Colin that he delivered a bombshell !! He had seen the future and the need to change our Business Model had become urgent and compelling.

In a nutshell, audit would no longer be at the core of our business. The prognosis was that much of the audit work would be done by computers/new technology. Hence, the market for audit services would shrink significantly. Besides, the appetite of our clients would be Risk Assessment / Risk Management – especially cyber security and the focus would be on the future (sustainability) of their business.

We were saturated with data and trend analysis – all pointing to the demise of auditors. We had become an endangered species. Our comfort zone was under threat.

By way of example, KPMG UK had been auditors of the King (or Queen) of England (the Royal Household) for over a hundred years. Similarly, Cooper Brothers, which metamorphosed into Coopers and Lybrand and eventually PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC) had been auditors of the Bank of England for over a century too.

Incidentally, “PWC” stands for “Proceed With Caution”!!

Perhaps it was inevitable that Colin in his “philosopher king” mode and his relentless pursuit of fresh visions would become an enthusiastic disciple of two great thinkers and globally acknowledged gurus – Professor Edward De Bono and Daniel Kahneman.

“Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono (19 May 1933 – 9 June 2021) was a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor, philosopher, and consultant. He originated the term lateral thinking, wrote the book Six Thinking Hats, and was a proponent of the teaching of thinking as a subject in schools.

Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono was born in Malta on 19 May 1933. Educated at St. Edward’s College, Malta, he then gained a medical degree from the University of Malta. Following this, he proceeded as a Rhodes Scholar in 1953 to Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained an MA in psychology and physiology. He represented Oxford in polo and set two canoeing records.

He then gained a Ph.D. degree in medicine from Trinity College, Cambridge, an honorary DDes (Doctor of Design) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and an honorary LLD from the University of Dundee.

De Bono held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge (where he helped to establish the university’s medical school), London and Harvard. He was a professor at the University of Malta, the University of Pretoria, the University of Central England (now called Birmingham City University) and Dublin City University. De Bono held the Da Vinci Professor of Thinking chair at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona, US. He was one of the 27 Ambassadors for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.

The originator of the term ‘Lateral Thinking’, de Bono wrote 85 books with translations into 46 languages. He taught his thinking methods to government agencies, corporate clients, organizations and individuals, privately or publicly in group sessions. He promoted the World Center for New Thinking (2004-2011), based in Malta, which applied Thinking Tools to solution and policy design on the geopolitical level.

In 1976, de Bono took part in a radio debate for the BBC with British philosopher A.J. Ayer, on the subject of effective democracy.

Starting on Wednesday 8 September 1982, the BBC ran a series of 10 weekly programmes entitled “de Bono’s Thinking Course”. In the shows, Dr Edward de Bono explained how thinking skills could be improved by attention and practice. The series was repeated the following year. A book with the same title accompanied the series.

In May 1994, he gave a half-hour Opinions lecture televised on Channel 4 and subsequently published in The Independent as “Thinking Hats On”.

In 1995, he created the futuristic documentary film, 2040: Possibilities by Edward de Bono, depicting a lecture to an audience of viewers released from a cryogenic freeze for contemporary society in the year 2040.

In 2005, he was nominated (and reached the shortlist) for the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Schools from over 20 countries have included de Bono’s thinking tools into their curriculum, and he has advised and lectured at the board level at many of the world’s leading corporations.

Convinced that a key way forward for humanity is a better language, he published The Edward de Bono Code Book in 2000. In this book, he proposed a suite of new words based on numbers, where each number combination represents a useful idea or situation that currently does not have a single-word representation. For example, de Bono code 6/2 means “Give me my point of view and I will give you your point of view.” Such a code might be used in situations where one or both of the two parties in a dispute are making insufficient effort to understand the other’s perspective.

Asteroid 2541 Edebono discovered by Luboš Kohoutek is named after him. “

As for Daniel Kahneman, his fame as a supremely gifted psychologist preceded both his seminal book: “Thinking Fast and Slow” which was published in 2011 and the Nobel Prize in economics which he won in collaboration with Amos Tversky in 2002.

On the blurb of his book he offers no apologies:

“I don’t feel the burden of responsibility to offer solutions to the world’s problems. The words “public intellectual” worry me, in the sense that it’s someone who has solutions to all the world’s problems, regardless of what they are.”

Colin Sharman was not only a great thinker, he was a doer as well. Indeed, he was somewhat in the same mould as Daniel Burham, the United States of America 19th Century architect (1846 to 1912), who enjoined those who cared to listen:

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

Hence, Daniel Kahneman’s advocacy of “The Power Of Slow Thinking” while being hailed and adorned as “the godfather of behavioural science” would have harvested from fertile ground while finding anchor in a kindred soul – that of Colin in gifting us a compass with which to navigate in the carnivorous depths of fear and uncertainty. The work of Kahneman is both seminal and alluring. That is what made the book: “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (published by Daniel Kahneman) a best-seller many times over in several languages.

The book is derived from the thesis that “humans have two broad systems for thinking. System Alpha is impulse, instinctive and effortless. However, there is also “Alpha Beta” which tends to be more deliberate, controlled, reflective and aligned with our past experience of similar events. Neither is perfect. They both have flaws delineated by pluses and minuses.

Kahneman’s verdict is that we are inclined to believe that we are being much more rational and predictable than we are in reality. Why we screw up is when rather than adopt “Alpha Beta” we opt for “Alpha” and expect a different outcome.

By way of illustration, here is the front page headline of “The Wall Street Journal” (Saturday/Sunday, May 21 – 22, 2022):

“Law Group proposes LSAT’S be optional”

“For decades, budding law students have had to stare down the law school Admission Test, or LSAT, a rigorous test of abilities in logic, analytical reasoning and reading comprehension.

Those days might be coming to an end. An American Bar Association panel that accredits law schools issued a proposal on Friday to make standardized tests optional for admission, a move that would follow a trend seen in undergraduate admissions offices and give schools more flexibility on how they select law students.”

We also have the following report which has gone viral:

Headline: NIGERIAN TRIBUNE newspaper of May 16, 2022.

“Otunla, Oyo-born former AGF returns N6.3bn to FG coffers to avoid prosecution”

“An Oyo-born former Accountant-General of the Federation (AG-F) Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, has returned N6.3 billion to the coffers of the Federal Government to avoid prosecution.
Otunla who is a native of Atisbo local government area in Okeogun in Oyo state was the Accountant-General of the Federation between 2011 and 2015.

The report revealed that Otunla returned N6,392,000,000.00.

Details of the deals leading to the refunds are included in documents Otunla filed in court to substantiate the suits he instituted against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
In the suits, he questioned the ruling of the anti-graft agencies who remained adamant on arraigning him on corruption charges after he was told to make refunds instead of prosecution.

The Ex-AGF claimed that the now-suspended acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, guaranteed him that he would not face the wrath of the law if he returned the money traced to him, his companies, and his associates.

He revealed that in 2015, he was invited by a team of EFCC investigators, investigating the alleged diversion of funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) pension funds.

Otunla said he had a meeting with Magu during the investigation when the then acting EFCC chair told him to “refund the monies linked to your companies and nobody will prosecute you.”

He said based on Magu’s promise, he had a reconciliatory meeting with the investigator, where he made available some money as refunds.

According to the agreement, Otunla said one of the companies linked to him – Stellar Vera Development Ltd – returned N750 million, another company – Damaris Mode Coolture Ltd – returned N550 million, while the two firms later made an additional joint refund of N2,150,000,000.00.

He further added that, at a point, he brought several bank cheques for N10 million in favour of the EFCC which he handed to its Economic Governance Section.
Otunla said his total refund to the Federation Account through the EFCC, was N6,392,000,000.00.

Meanwhile, Otunla is pleading with the court, in his filed suit against the EFCC, that it should keep to the promise given to him by now suspended EFCC boss, Magu, that if he refunds the money he will be free from prosecution.”

Read also: The EFCC’s role in financial crimes during elections

Hopefully, we shall learn the right lessons from behavioural science when we are presented with the following report:

Operatives of the EFCC on Monday arrested the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, over an alleged N80 billion fraud.

Spokesman of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed his arrest in a statement issued on Monday evening.

He said Idris was arrested after allegedly failing to honour the commission’s invitations to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent act.

“Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday, May 16, 2022, arrested serving Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80 billion,” Uwujaren’s statement read.

“The commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.”

According to the EFCC, the funds were laundered via real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.”

Daniel Kahneman has been provided with the material for another book on behavioural science by the following report:

“Acting AGF, Anamekwe Nwabuoku under probe for corruption”

“The newly appointed overseer of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), Anamekwe Nwabuoku, allegedly has a heavy corruption dossier and is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a medium, “Economic Confidential”, has said.

Sahara Reporters had on Sunday reported that Nwabuoku was appointed to oversee the office in the absence of the suspended AGF, Ahmed Idris, who has been in EFCC custody for over a week while undergoing investigation for N80billion fraud.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Nwabuoku would oversee the affairs of the office during the pendency of Idris’ investigation.

But according to sources on Monday, the acting AGF had corruption allegations against him including alleged overpayment to himself in previous government agencies where he served.

It was further alleged that some of the properties he acquired fraudulently had been recovered by the anti-corruption agencies.

One of the sources informed “Economic Confidential” that one of Nwabuoku’s financial crimes was allegedly committed while he was the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) at the Ministry of Defence.

He was also allegedly involved in other fraudulent activities and using the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) to steal the salaries of federal government staff.

The GIFMIS is an IT-based system for budget management and accounting. It was adopted as part of a wider Public Service Reform Strategy by the federal government of Nigeria starting in the early 2000s.

Asked to explain why the Nigerian government opted to appoint Nwabuoku to oversee an office vacated by an allegedly corrupt AGF, a top official in the Presidency said Nwabuoku was the most senior official in the office.

“He is not acting AGF but overseeing OAGF as the most senior director in the office,” the official declared.

Nwabuoku has few months left to reach the mandatory retirement age for civil servants.”

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.