Deloitte CEO Richard Deutsch steps down for 'personal reasons'

11 March 2021 2 min. read
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A notably successful tenure at the helm of Deloitte Australia has come to a premature end for Richard Deutsch – who cited the “personal cost” of navigating recent challenges as his reason for an early departure. 

“After a difficult and unprecedented year and following much personal reflection, today I announced my resignation as CEO,” said Deutsch – who took the top spot in 2018, and still has 18 months left on the usual four-year term afforded to Deloitte chief executives.

The news was broken via email to the entire Deloitte Australia staff, and a video call among the Big Four accounting and advisory firm’s partnership. This is according to reports form the Australian Financial Review (AFR), which revealed that Deloitte staff were blindsided by the announcement – given the success of Deutsch’s tenure so far.

Richard Deutsch, CEO, Deloitte

The firm clocked 13% growth to reach revenues of $2.3 billion in Deutsch’s first year in charge – continuing a five-year run of consecutive double-digit growth and inching closer to Big Four rival PwC’s $2.6 billion haul in the same year. 

That was 2019, and 2020 was a different story altogether. Like most of the economy, Deloitte was forced into cost cutting measures early last year. But the firm had soon bounced back – reimbursing the entire Covid-induced pay cut by November, and adding more big names to the client roster.

“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the past two-and-a-half years. We have navigated the greatest health and economic crisis of our generation and secured the future of the business while continuing to serve our clients with distinction,” said Deutsch in the email.

“But this period has come at some personal cost,” he said, without going into specifics. According to AFR, several partner departures in recent months and constant pressure for growth are all factors that influenced his departure.

At any rate, Deutsch indicated that he was leaving Deloitte with a bright future ahead – to be steered by a new leader equipped to ring in “the next phase of Deloitte’s growth.”

Selection for a new CEO will kick off imminently, and the new boss will likely emerge from the firm’s nearly 900-strong partnership ranks. Deutsch will continue to guide Deloitte’s 10,000 plus staff in Australia until the new chief executive officer is in place.

“We wish Richard the best for the future,” said Deloitte Australia chairman Tom Imbesi. “He is an authentic leader who has always displayed a deep passion for our clients and compassion for our people.”