The Champion Inside: What Banking Can Learn From KPMG’s Purpose-Driven Employee Experience

During times of crisis, organizations’ first response is often to look outside – to their customers – pivoting to serve and communicate in ways that better meet their emerging needs. And rightly so: Reinforcing those bonds with core customers and demonstrating their commitment to them is proven to drive long-term brand loyalty. But an equally critical audience is actually inside these organizations in the form of the employees who deliver, every day, the experiences that matter to customers. 

A highly engaged workforce not only drives better customer experiences but a better bottom line. And the key to unlocking that high engagement is a strong sense of higher purpose, which ranks only second to pay and benefits in what employees value from companies. In fact, a recent study showed that almost half of today’s workforce would take a pay cut to work with an organization with a strong and meaningful purpose.

Case in point: Accounting giant KPMG’s firm-wide initiative to drive higher emotional connections between employees and the global firm through purpose. The effort was born from an insight that if the firm’s accountants – accountants, of all people! – could link the work they do to broader efforts that shape society, they would reframe their role and reinforce their connection to the firm, their clients, and one another. By digging into KPMG’s past, its enduring values, and its role in the Lend Lease Act that helped end WWII, they unearthed a purpose that was celebrated through a clear, unifying rallying cry: We Shape History.

Employees were encouraged to submit their own stories of how their work impacts the world – stories that became the basis for ongoing, internal campaigns that created a sense of connection and shared purpose across the 200K+ employees around the world. Partners were encouraged to support these efforts by linking their teams’ successes and individual performance to client accomplishments and their broader impacts on society.

The results are unequivocal: Internally, 90% of employees reported that the higher purpose initiative increased people’s pride in KPMG. And a resulting improvement in morale helped the firm climb 17 spots on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to work for – the number one ranking of the Big Four accounting firms. 

The Upshot: In times of both crisis and calm, a powerful brand purpose can become the hidden force driving success from the inside out. To learn more about how your financial institution can deliver a meaningful brand purpose that shapes culture and employee experience, email:

Header Image credit: KPMG’s “We Shape History” campaign

Homepage Image credit: Screenshot from KPMG’s “We Shape History”