This was the second consecutive ’pandemics year’ that brought enormous challenges upon all of us. It hasn’t been easy, especially for those with fragile health and their environments. And we’re not out of the Covid-19 crisis yet – the pandemic continues to bring economic and social uncertainty.
Even in the thickest mist of the crises, when the short term sight was hampered, we followed the direction of our purpose: to inspire confidence and to empower change. This goes to the heart of what we do and our contribution to society.
I’m proud that we stayed the course to our long term strategic objectives: building public trust, focusing on our people and clients, investing in our digital & innovation agenda and our continued financial strength.
I’m especially proud of my colleagues, the people of KPMG – of the adaptability, energy and determination they have shown through the pandemic to serve our clients and make 2021 such a successful year. We are a ‘people-driven’ company, as evidenced by our continued high engagement scores. The human connection remains critically important for progress – no amount of technology will change that.
I take this opportunity to thank everyone at KPMG for their dedication and staying true to our values. Both client-facing and non-client-facing staff - the latter being the backbone of our success. To express our appreciation and to celebrate success together, we have shared two additional financial rewards and invested significantly in ‘staying connected’.
The core of our business is to provide trust. To do so, we must be trustworthy ourselves. Our Audit Quality program demonstrates we are able to drive continuous improvement, evidenced by, among others, positive internal and external quality inspection scores. Our client satisfaction ratings are consistently strong, including feedback on the quality of our work. It is one of the reasons that we have been successful in the current Mandatory Firm Rotation so far. This motivates us to keep the momentum going and apply every opportunity to improve further: in our culture and behaviour, our quality system, and in each individual engagement.
In our advisory business we’ve worked with our clients to get to grips with the new reality. We’ve seen an uptake in the demand for end-to-end digital transformation services. With mergers & acquisitions on the rise, we were able to keep our position as a top three Deals advisory firm. We’ve supported the government with the vaccination programme, its financial support scheme for the companies worst affected by the pandemic and many other socially impactful assignments.
Our knowledge and expertise is relevant for the critical societal transformations underway. Non-financial performance of companies and organisations becomes increasingly more valuable to society, including investors. Organisations are expected to think through and report the impact of climate change on their business, for example, or how they protect human rights in their supply chains, ethics and diversity.
This ESG agenda signals a new era, an era of creative destruction when new sustainable entrepreneurship is standing up: long term value creation for all stakeholders. We are beyond the tipping point. It becomes ever more broadly understood that we need to prioritise new, sustainable endeavours, make them comparable, consistent and truthful.
This is a journey in which we need to find the answers together, as a society. And we must accelerate. We are determined to continue to build our expertise, share it widely with our stakeholders and apply our passion to make this happen.
This year our Supervisory Board has undergone important changes. We express our deeply felt gratitude to Bernard Wientjes, our departing Chair, for his immense contribution over the past seven years, that reflects in our success today. He was succeeded by Roger van Boxtel on December 1, 2021. We are looking forward to work with the renewed Supervisory Board under his leadership.
We are strong and together as a firm. Our focus remains on our strategic priorities, specifically on our 'love for talent' and our digital transformation. The economic outlook is favourable and we are a force for positive change in the markets we serve. This is a solid base upon which we will drive our momentum together!
Stephanie Hottenhuis, CEO and Chair of the Board of Management of KPMG N.V.
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