The history of KPMG in South Africa

The history of KPMG in South Africa

The history of KPMG in South Africa

The origins of KPMG in South Africa go back to 1895. Through organic growth and strategic mergers, the firm has grown into one of the largest Audit, Tax and Advisory firms in the region, offering a wide array of services to clients within the public and private sectors.

The core of KPMG’s genealogy is made up of two main firms: Aiken & Carter and Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. Before their merger in 1987, these two firms were among the foremost firms in the country.

Aiken & Carter
On 1 October 1895, Scottish-born Alexander Aiken established his practice in Johannesburg as a Public Accountant and Auditor. On 1 October 1905 Aiken took on his first Partner, John Gordon Carter. The firm was then named Alex. Aiken & Carter (AA&C).

AA&C grew substantially – opening more offices across the country. In 1975 the firm merged with two Johannesburg practices, Hemphill Anderson & Co and Geo. Mackenzie & Co. Then in 1979 Pretoria firm Barnes Taylor & Cowie also merged with AA&C.

In 1979 AA&C, along with various other national firms from nine countries, co-founded Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG). KMG grew into an international organisation of 57 nationally-based member and representative firms active in 73 countries.

1981 and 1982 saw the firm merge with the Bloemfontein practice, Leith Freake & Cade, and Templeton, Strong & Vignazia, respectively. In 1985 there was a merger with the Pretoria-based practice of Taylor & Geerling, founded in 1902.

The firm celebrated its 90th anniversary in 1985 by changing its name to Aiken & Carter (A&C). Concurrently with the name change, the new logo of KMG used by member firms worldwide was also adopted.

Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co
In 1870, 17 year old William Barclay Peat joined a London firm of accountants. He made partner by the age of 24 and took over the practice in 1891, changing its name to W B Peat & Co.

In 1911 Peat met an accountant – James Marwick – who had opened a practice in New York with Roger Mitchell in 1897, named Marwick, Mitchell & Co. Peat and Marwick agreed to set up a joint firm in the United States, Canada and France. The firm would be named Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co (The UK firm would continue to operate as W B Peat & Co).

In 1920 Frederick Benjamin Gibbins was sent by W B Peat & Co to establish a practice in Johannesburg in association with another major international partnership, Price Waterhouse & Co. The South African partnership, Price Waterhouse, Peat & Co, flourished and by the end of World War II had offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

At the beginning of 1949, however, the joint association with Price Waterhouse formally ended. A new partnership under the name Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co (PMM) took over the existing firm. 1976 saw PMM merge with Hemphill Lucas & Purnell.

In 1984 it merged with Dix Boyes in Pietermaritzburg, and then in 1985 with Durban-based practice Mattisons.

The mega-merger
In September 1986 the merger between PMM and A&C was announced, arising out of the envisaged merger between Peat Marwick International and KMG. The new company, known as KPMG Aiken & Peat, spent the rest of the 1980s bedding down the merger of people, skills and offices as well as developing a strategic plan. The following years saw the formation and growth of a number of specialist departments and industry groups.

In 2002, accounting firms Andersen and KMMT, the latter being co-founded by our former Chief Executive, intergrated with KPMG.

Behind the name
While the origin of the name KPMG is based on the abbreviation of the names of some of the principal founding members; Klynveld, Peat, Marwick, Goerdeler, today the name is simply 'KPMG'. When asked what it means we often simply say "business".