KPMG’s new head of private assets consulting identifies governance challenges amid rush for better returns

Governance challenges amid rush for better returns

Zeynep Meric-Smith has joined from PA Consulting and will lead KPMG’s private assets consulting team


Fund managers must not compromise on governance standards in pivot to private assets, according to Zeynep Meric-Smith, partner and head of private assets consulting at KPMG in the UK.


The comments follow Zeynep’s appointment to KPMG where she will lead the firm’s support in private assets as part of the Wealth and Asset Management Consulting practice.

Zeynep has joined KPMG from PA Consulting where she was a partner in its financial services practice. She has over 20 years’ experience in the sector, in industry and consulting, and has worked in London, New York and Istanbul across all asset classes on business strategy, operation and technology-led change.


Commenting on the latest market conditions, Zeynep Meric-Smith said: “There is an incredible pressure on wealth and asset managers and asset owners to seek better risk-adjusted returns and build portfolios that match the true profile of their liabilities. This is pulling capital away from public markets and into the more illiquid end of the market – such as private debt, private equity and real assets.


“The pivot to private assets has been building momentum in recent years and is breaking into the mainstream – but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. There is a real challenge ahead for many managers to transform their operations. It shouldn’t be underestimated the work that needs to be done to get the technology and resources in place to make a new private assets proposition fit for purpose, whilst consideration must also be given to the appropriate product structures that enable investors to access to these investment opportunities.

“There is a real risk that the rush to deploy capital may overlook some fundamental steps that need to be taken to ensure long-term success – none more so than governance. Robust controls need to be put in place that will guide a sound and responsible investment strategy and keep up to speed with an evolving regulatory landscape. That includes ensuring clarity over how investment processes fit into the wider organisation, how to create cross-comparable dashboards at board level to assess operational performance across multiple private assets businesses, changes to how investment solutions are created and, of course, the upskilling of teams to better understand the lifecycle of these assets in order to support the front-office.”

Zeynep’s arrival follows a series of senior hires in KPMG’s Wealth and Asset Management practice in the past year, including associate partner Rob Carter and directors Ruby Paramanathan, Jonathan Coates, Chris Coltella and Scott Lee.

Ben Lucas, the partner who leads KPMG’s Wealth and Asset Management Consulting practice, joined from EY in December 2019. Commenting on Zeynep’s appointment, he said: “Financial services are evolving rapidly and, for those who can’t keep up, the market is unforgiving. The real differentiator in the post-digital age is people – real talent, skills and experience. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in our practice, and will continue to do so, to build a formidable team of consultants who can help the wealth and asset management industry navigate this new reality.

“Zeynep is a great example of the high-calibre talent we have attracted to the firm. Her extensive experience in supporting organisations through change is enviable and will be of huge value to clients as the private assets market and wider wealth and asset management world looks to the future.”



Notes to editor:

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 21 offices across the UK with approximately 16,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.3 billion in the year ended 30 September 2020.

KPMG is a global organization of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Legal, Tax and Advisory services. It operates in 147 countries and territories and has more than 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.

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