KPMG Canada names advisory leader Benjie Thomas as its next CEO

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Benjie M. Thomas, pictured in Toronto on May 24, has been selected to take over as CEO of KPMG Canada LLP. Mr. Thomas is the company’s managing partner for the firm’s advisory practice and will move into CEO role on Oct. 1.Sammy Kogan/The Globe and Mail

KPMG Canada LLP has chosen Benjie Thomas to be its next CEO, promoting a top executive with deep experience advising on deals, as well as strong relationships with private equity firms and pension funds.

Mr. Thomas, 49, will take over the Canadian arm of KPMG International Ltd. on Oct. 1, succeeding current CEO and senior partner Elio Luongo, who has led the Canadian firm since 2016.

Currently, Mr. Thomas is KPMG’s Canadian managing partner for the firm’s advisory practice, which includes management and risk consulting, as well as deal advisory services. A member of the firm’s management committee, he is also the national industry leader for private equity and pension funds. He started at KPMG as a student and has spent nearly 23 years at the company.

He is the second new CEO named to lead one of the big four global accounting firms’ Canadian offices in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Ernst & Young named Alycia Calvert as its chair and CEO, making her the first woman to hold the top job at one of those big four.

The decision to tap Mr. Thomas as CEO is a sign of the increasing importance of consulting and advisory services – and the higher-margin revenue they generate – to one of the world’s largest tax and accounting firms. In Canada, KPMG has more than 10,000 employees, and the advisory practice Mr. Thomas oversees accounts for about 2,000 of them. The unit is contributing a growing share of revenue as margins for audit and accounting services have come under pressure.

Relationships with large institutional investors are highly valuable, and Mr. Thomas has led the private equity and pension group at KPMG Canada since 2006, building a track record of supporting the country’s mid-market buyout firms.

Colleagues also see him as an approachable, affable leader who embodies the company’s culture and as an enterprising executive with a competitive urge to win business. A former varsity football player at the University of Waterloo, where he studied accounting, his office wall in Toronto is lined with framed basketball jerseys and sports memorabilia.

“Like many Canadians, I’m the child of proud immigrants who, through example, instilled education, work ethic, resilience, entrepreneurship, community and most importantly a deep sense of family and faith,” Mr. Thomas said in a statement. “These are the values that will guide my leadership.”

Under Mr. Luongo’s tenure as CEO, KPMG Canada has invested heavily in technology to adapt its own systems and advise clients on how to cope with the pace of change as digitization, cloud computing and emerging AI tools promise to reshape businesses.

“The Canadian economy is facing unprecedented disruption,” Mr. Thomas said. “Organizations are dealing with a growing list of risks and challenges, but emerging technology also presents them with unparalleled opportunities.”

Mr. Luongo will complete his two terms as CEO on Sept. 30, reaching the maximum eight years allowed for the company’s leaders. In a statement, he called Mr. Thomas “a respected leader with a collaborative approach, and a steadfast commitment to quality and innovation.”

“He is the right leader to take the firm through its next chapter.”

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