William Barclay Peat | KPMG | RU

William Barclay Peat

William Barclay Peat

…was the first of the KPMG “Big Four” to be born. It happened in Scotland in 1852.

…was the first of the KPMG “Big Four” to be born. It happened in Scotland in 1852.

Whatever the case may be, little William was oblivious to this fact. He was born of privilege (the Barclay family built one of the largest banks in England, surprisingly named Barclays Bank) and studied law at the prestigious Montrose Academy. Despite this luck, he never qualified for the bar, so he moved to England when he was 17 and shifted his attention to the accounting profession. Using his family connections, he got an interview with an accounting firm in London and became a junior clerk.

Accountancy definitely suited him, and William became a partner only 7 years later, at the age of 24. A little earlier he had been asked to establish an office in Middlesbrough, and returned to London only a few years later, in 1891, when the retirement and death of the senior partners forced him to assume leadership of the firm, and assume its debts as well.

First of all, he renamed the partnership WB Peat & Co and promised all creditors to return the debts if they would give him enough time. They believed William, and he kept his word. Moreover, his honesty, integrity and discretion let to him becoming the accountant for the Privy Purse of King Edward VII. William Barclay Peat became Sir William in 1912 when he was knighted. He died in 1923, and three of his sons and their descendants have succeeded him as partners of the firm. One of the descendants, Sir William’s great grandson Michael Peat now serves as one of Prince Charles’s most trusted aides.

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