Covid-19 cost-cutting response of PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG

23 April 2020 4 min. read

The Coronavirus is starting to bite the commercial operations of the Big Four consulting firms. Navigating the storm, PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG have taken a host of measures impacting partners, fee earners and staff.

With the Covid-19 crisis set to slash billions of dollars of the face of Australia’s economy, companies across Australia such as National Australia Bank are scrambling to cut their discretionary spending. In the process, they are at large scale delaying or cancelling non-strategic projects, a move that is having a major impact on the coffers of consulting firms and independent consultants.

According to an estimate by UK-based analyst firm Source Global Research, the global consulting industry is bracing itself for a 19% slump in fees in 2020. Europe and the Middle East are according to the firm’s estimates the hardest hit region, with Asia Pacific and Australia set for a 17% contraction in revenues.

There is however a large variance in the corona-impact by segment. Technology consulting, which is well suited to online and remote working, will see a below 10% drop in fees over the course of the whole year, while change management – a much more discretionary services in the eyes of clients – could see demand fall out by as much as 40%.

Covid-19 cost-cutting response of PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG

Big Four

The country’s largest consulting firms such as the Big Four (Deloitte Consulting including Monitor Deloitte, EY Advisory including EY-Parthenon, KPMG Advisory and PwC Advisory including Strategy&) have already flagged that their utilisation rates have slowed at an alarming rate in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, while the leading strategy consultants such as McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company traditionally remain secretive about their clients and performance, speaking on the basis of anonymity to’s parent, partners at the firms have however confirmed that they are now seeing an impact in Asia Pacific, and are taking measures to recalibrate their services and the efficiency of their staff.

In response to the developments, the Big Four firms are slashing costs as they seek to navigate the crisis. The giants – combined they generate over $7 billion in revenues – are among others reducing spending on staff through lowering salaries and asking staff to take (unpaid) leave, cutting operational costs on items such as travel, training and events, and freezing their intake of new people and recruitment budgets.

A roundup of what Australia's Big Four accounting and consulting firms are doing to offset the coronavirus-induced downturn:


Annual income of partner cut by 30% to 40%
Partner admissions deferred until 2021
Deferred pay rises and bonuses

Consultants and staff:
Most staff cut to four days at 80% pay, some staff cut to three days at 60% pay
Pay and hours cut by up to 40% based on workload from April – June
Deferred pay rises and bonuses
Job cuts based on workload of service line


Pay cut of 25% for equity partners
Pay cut of 250 for non-equity partners, pay cannot fall below $250,000

Consultants and staff:
Staff pay cut by 8% (annualised), pay cannot fall below $65,000
Staff and partners required to take one week of annual leave by June 30
Staff asked to take up to 10 extra days of leave between May – September


Pay cut of for partners
Cuts to amount partners can draw from firm

Consultants and staff:
Pay and hours cut of staff that are underutilised on chargeable client work from May until July
Some staff cut to four days at 80% pay, some staff cut to three days at 60% pay
Staff asked to to take annual leave over Easter


Pay cut of 17% annualised for equity partners
Bonuses limited for partners
Partner and director promotions deferred until end of 2020

Consultants and staff:
200 job cuts across underperforming parts of the business
Staff pay cut by 7% (annualised), pay cannot fall below $62,000
Bonuses limited for staff across all divisions
Option to take 1-4 months leave from May – August at 20 per cent pay

More information:
KPMG Australia to cut 200 staff as part of Covid-19 response
PwC transitions its employees to part time contract