NEW YORK: KPMG has hired Mark Walters as global head of communications, bringing a familiar face back to the fold as the accounting and management consulting firm refreshes its approach to reputation management.
Walters started in the New York-based role on October 28. Reporting to Jane Lawrie, global head of corporate affairs, Walters oversees internal comms, external comms, strategy for social media comms, crisis management and other comms-related activities.
The last person to oversee global comms was Brian Bannister, who left KPMG in April, according to his LinkedIn profile.
However, Walters’ role is not a like-for-like replacement, he explained. KPMG comms has a new structure since establishing the corporate affairs function led by Lawrie, who reports to chairman and CEO Bill Thomas.
"I hope my global experience and mindset, combined with my existing knowledge of the business, puts me in a good position to support [Lawrie] as she leads the new corporate affairs function," Walters said.
In recent years, scrutiny of professional services has intensified amid numerous high-profile scandals.
For example, KPMG South Africa was ensnared in the dealings of the Gupta family, which brought about the downfall of Bell Pottinger. Critics accused KPMG of skimming tax money to finance a $2.2 million Gupta family wedding.
Bannister at the time said the firm was holding itself accountable for its actions.
Walters said he will have a role in "delivering the narrative" around KPMG, adding there is a "positive story" to share with the public.
Several KPMG executives were implicated in a conspiracy to steal information from a regulator so it could perform better during its annual examination. The "Steal the Exam" scandal also resulted in a $50 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Previously, Walters was director of comms for KPMG’s former global chairman John Veihmeyer. He left KPMG upon Veihmeyer’s retirement in 2016 and joined law firm Dentons as global director of comms. After that, he decamped for life insurance group AIA, serving as head of external comms in Hong Kong.