Supervisory Board Report

Letter from the Supervisory Board Chair

When reflecting on the past year, it is impossible to ignore the decreased stability and predictability of the world order, accompanied by increased polarization and a decline in trust in institutions. In these distressing times, people, businesses and governments alike seek certainty – for 'anchors'. There is a growing need for reliable information to counter misinformation and disinformation. Reliable information needs knowledgeable and trustworthy sources. The Supervisory Board believes that KPMG N.V. should fulfil this role and is uniquely positioned to do so.

Businesses and institutions increasingly feel responsible for the community in which they operate. ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is no longer an abstract concept but rather a touchstone for their actions. Therefore, there is a considerable demand for support and advice in pursuing ESG goals. There are also strong societal forces calling for reviews of ESG outcomes. The Supervisory Board applauds KPMG's efforts to lead in advising and providing assurance on ESG. Not only because there is a compelling business case but also because it will contribute toward creating a better society. A dedicated focus on societal developments is also a prerequisite for strengthening KPMG's appeal as an employer. Ongoing investment in diversity, inclusion and culture is vital to maintaining and attracting talent.

The Supervisory Board supports and encourages the focus on quality without compromise. Quality should not and cannot ever be sacrificed. Society cannot and does not expect this from KPMG N.V.. The fact that we suffered a slight decrease in the Quality Performance Review scores last year, after several years of steadily improving quality outcomes, is an incentive to increase our efforts in this regard. The Assurance Quality Committee, which includes all members of the Supervisory Board, will make undiminished efforts to stimulate this. Investments in new technology, such as artificial intelligence, will also strengthen audit quality. The continued rollout of the smart audit platform KPMG Clara (new window) is expected to play a major role in this.

The outcome of the investigation into answer sharing (new window), deeply shocked the Supervisory Board. It is totally unacceptable that over the last five years over five hundred people, at all levels of seniority, could participate in answer sharing for mandatory training tests. Along with the Board of Management, the Supervisory Board believes that KPMG must continue to thoroughly investigate the causes and take clear measures to prevent this in the future and to improve our ethical culture. The Supervisory Board intensified its supervisory role and initiated its own investigation followed by the stepping down of Roger van Boxtel as Chair of the Supervisory Board, and Marc Hogeboom as Head of Assurance.

Vice Chair Jolande Sap could only briefly serve as Chair following Roger van Boxtel's departure, because she served the maximum of eight years. During her entire tenure as Supervisory Board member, Vice-Chair and Chair of the Assurance Quality Committee, Jolande Sap made a major contribution to KPMG N.V.. The Supervisory Board hereby expresses its gratitude to her for her dedication. We are pleased to announce that we have appointed Sandra Berendsen as her successor. She possesses the knowledge and experience needed to make a significant mark on the Supervisory Board's work. Finally, the Supervisory Board also welcomes Mariska van de Luur as Head of Assurance and a member of the Board of Management. Her attention to the personal aspects of auditing and a sharp eye for quality make her a perfect addition to the Board of Management. 

Given the current situation, I have been asked to act as Chair of the Supervisory Board for a maximum of 18 months. Although it is my pleasure to assume this role, I certainly do not underestimate the challenges it poses in these difficult times. Following the outcome of the investigation into answer sharing (new window), the PCAOB Settlement and the enhanced supervision of the AFM, the Supervisory Board has reflected on its own functioning as well as that of the organization.

Given KPMG N.V.'s importance to society and the inherent strength and quality of its partners and staff, I am convinced that its future is as bright as ever. Going into the next year, KPMG N.V. will continue to push toward this vision of the future, under our Board of Management, supported and supervised by the Supervisory Board in close cooperation with the Cooperative, as representatives of the equity partners, and the Works Council.

Bernard Wientjes
Chair of the Supervisory Board