One of the lessons KPMG has learnt in the aftermath of suffering major reputational damage is to check whether employees are living beyond their means, according to CEO Ignatius Sehoole.
"It seems that, when people get away with things, they start getting greedy and want more and more.
"We have now adopted a policy to do integrity checks and lifestyle audits to look for abuse," he said at the Customer Experience Management Africa Summit in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The policy is being applied indiscriminately, he said.
"Every single partner, their spouses and dependent children go through this. Even I, my wife and my 19-year-old student son had to undergo integrity and lifestyle checks done by an independent party - a law firm. These are some of the things we put in place after looking at how we could have prevented things that happened in the past."
'They steal bigger every year'
However, he noted, "even with the best audits in the world, if you have crooks who are colluding, you will be unlikely to detect things and then their greed becomes bigger. They steal, and then they steal bigger and bigger every year".
For Sehoole it has been heart-warming to see increased acceptance towards KPMG after it began its cleanup.
"People have started to engage with us again and Business Leadership SA (BLSA) has accepted us back as a member, for instance. Some clients who dropped us in the past because of what we were doing are now seeing what we have since implemented," he said.
"It is quite encouraging and testimony to the reforms we have done. We don't think in any way we are done yet, but we think we have made a good start so far."
'Remember, we lost their trust'
He added that there are some who say they hear what KPMG is now doing and think it is impressive, but they want to first see for themselves.
"Remember, we lost their trust. We have to earn that trust again. So, we have had to open ourselves and show them to start to engage with us and doing business," said Sehoole.
"We are out to show potential and former clients that we mean business. We must walk the talk."
KPMG's Vision 2022 is to become a firm that has public interest at its centre, and it seeks to achieve four primary objectives, namely the highest level of integrity; the highest level of quality; being a genuinely transformed SA firm; and being relevant to our market.
"My partners and I know that is the journey we are walking and the only way we can regain trust. It is our moral fibre courage to do the right thing even if no one is looking. We feel this is the only way to deliver the KPMG and the profession I am so proud of. We owe it to SA to get it right," he said.