KPMG pulls plug on small business accounting service

KPMG is to close its small business accounting (SBA) service, a venture which was intended to ‘disrupt and dominate the SME market’, just five years after launching the cloud-based platform

In October 2014, the firm announced it was one of the first of the Big Four to go after the SME market with a £40m investment in a technology platform that will enable KPMG to deliver accounting services to small and start-up businesses at a fraction of its usual fees.

The new service, part of an initiative dubbed KPMG Enterprise, offered online accounting and tax services - including accounts preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, VAT and corporate tax returns - to small and start-up enterprises via the cloud.

At the time, KPMG confirmed that 'the £40m investment does include the technology, but also includes our intentions to recruit between 20 and 50 partners and directors to help grow our offering in this area'.

The service also offered access to one-to-one advice from KPMG experts, with fees starting from £150 per month.

Simon Collins, UK chairman of KPMG at the time of the launch, described the move as, ‘revolutionising the market for accounting across the UK.’

Collins said the firm’s aim was to become ‘the clear choice for all privately-owned businesses’, in a move which brought it into competition with software suppliers and mid-tier competitors.

Now KPMG has written to clients using the service to advise them to make alternative arrangements and says the unit is being wound down.

A spokesperson for KPMG in the UK said: ‘We can confirm that we are proposing to withdraw the provision of our small business accounting service in the UK, which offers cloud-based bookkeeping to small and micro-businesses.

‘This follows the decision by our UK leadership to re-focus our business on the services which are core to the firm’s growth. Small business accounting services continue to be offered by KPMG in many other countries and are unaffected by this announcement.

‘As part of this process we will be looking to redeploy some UK staff into alternative roles within KPMG whilst a small number of staff will continue to manage existing small business accounting client relationships to ensure a smooth handover to alternative suppliers. We are contacting all of our UK SBA clients to make them aware of this decision.

‘We remain passionately committed to working with fast-growth and privately owned businesses across the UK through our KPMG Enterprise team, which provides a wide range of advice and support, including tax and accounting, scale-up strategies, funding requirements and growth via overseas expansion.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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