KPMG seeks more agency acquisitions after purchasing Acuity and appointing Paul Howes to head up new division

KPMG Australia has followed its fellow consulting firms into the marketing sector with the launch of a new specialist Customer, Brand & Marketing advisory venture, following the acquisition of North Sydney-based, Acuity Research and Insights.

Former trade union official Paul Howes will head up the new division and said the consultancy was already ‘eyeing off’ more companies and was in the process of securing ‘more top talent’.

Acuity, founded in 2010 by 20-year industry veteran Amanda Hicks, to “develop an agency that works in strong partnership with its clients, providing high-quality research, actionable evidence-based insights, and clear communications and service strategies” has been rebranded KPMG Acuity.

Aquity’s 10 employees have joined KPMG as part of the division’s 43-person team with Hicks becoming a partner of the firm while Howes, who was previously running the firm’s wealth management arm, becomes managing partner of the division.

In KPMG’s media release Howes has flagged further growth of the division saying, “We’re already eyeing off some further acquisitions, and I’m in the process of recruiting more top talent.”

The Australian venture will work closely with the consulting firm’s UK-based Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence Centre, which KPMG acquired in 2015.

KPMG claims Australian business leaders believe their customer insight is hindered by a lack of quality customer data, citing a global study of CEOs the company will be releasing later today.

The firm’s Australian CEO Gary Wingrove said. “The CEO agenda is increasingly focused on placing customers at the heart of business – but their depth of customer insight is often insufficient.”


Howes and Wingrove both point out that KPMG’s research capabilities will be a point of difference against their competitors who’ve focused on acquiring creative, marketing and advertising agencies over the past year.

“This new business is a contemporary extension of our traditional customer advisory services, which typically have supported large performance improvement and business transformation projects for clients,“ Wingrove continued. “Paul is a proven practice builder with a natural flair for customer insights and brand building. I’m confident he’ll do an outstanding job driving this new enterprise forward.”

The news comes after other big consultancy firms have made significant moves in the creative space.

In December last year, Ten’s Melbourne executive general manager Russel Howcroft moved across to PwC into the newly created role of chief creative officer. Howcroft’s shift was described by some as the moment consultancies became a real threat to the creative industry.

Since then, Deloitte has appointed Ten’s former brand manager Matt McGrath to be chief marketing officer.

In May, consultancy Accenture bought independent creative agency The Monkeys, which included its design agency Maud.


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