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26/02/16

Profile: Mike Fayle, Managing Director, KPMG

Mike Fayle is managing director of the audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG, a leading professional service provider and key employer on the Isle of Man. Business 365 met with Mike recently to talk about his career of over 40 years – and his enduring passion for both his job and his Island home.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

MF: I didn’t have a burning ambition.  My parents ran a boarding house at the time and when I left school at 18 they arranged for me to meet the only two professional people they had contact with – Jack Fargher, the accountant, and Jack Corrin, the lawyer (later Deemster Corrin). I never did meetDeemster Corrin at that time as Jack Fargher offered me a traineeship and I accepted immediately!

What led you to join KPMG?

MF: I stayed with J G Fargher throughout the huge period of growth in financial services in the Isle of Man in the late 1970s and early 1980s. J G Fargher merged with Peat, Marwick and Mitchell in 1987, which was later to become KPMG on the Island, so in a sense I have never actually moved!

You’ve been with KPMG for 30 years now – what has kept you there for so long?

MF: Accountancy has a reputation for being boring, but I have never found it so, particularly on the Isle of Man! There are just so many different aspects to the business. I came up through the auditor route but KPMG also deals with tax, insolvency and advisory services.I am now a specialist in restructuring and forensic services.  Changes in regulation and the way businesses grow mean that new things come up all the time and we’re always looking for new answers.

How has the business changed over the past three decades?

MF: In the early days, KPMG dealt almost exclusively with audit and a little tax work but as time went on there was a positive decision to offer a full range of services. The breadth and size of the market has changed pretty dramatically. Not only is there more diversity in terms of banking, insurance and funds but we have burgeoning sectors such as shipping, yachting and eGaming. There is a whole plethora of niche activities going on and so much of our work today is in an advisory capacity than in the past.

Now you are in the hot seat as Managing Director, what are your aims and what changes would you like to bring about?

MF: Any changes are likely to be enhancements rather than fundamental alterations to what we do and how we do it. I think one of my most important roles will be to balance the need for our people to have broad experience across different industry sectors while developing the deep knowledge and skills required to provide solutions. So extending the training and developing our staff will be a key focus.

New recruits are vital to any business. How does KPMG ensure it gets the best and what do you do to nurture home-grown talent?

MF: It’s not always easy to find the right skill sets on the Island, but we are fortunate that we get a lot ofinterest at graduate level and a very high proportion of our intake are Isle of Man students. At a more senior level, there are simply not enough skilled people to go round. Trainees, understandably, want to spread their wings when they qualify. At a higher level we have quite an international presence. This is great, not just from a diversity point of view, but also because it brings new blood into the business and with it experience from different jurisdictions. The age range across the business now is wider than it has ever been which makes it important for us to understand what attracts younger people such as travel opportunities and career breaks.

KPMG operates around the world. Do you get the opportunity to promote the Isle of Man business at an international level?

MF: There aren’t many parts of the world where KPMG doesn’t reach and whenever we go or work with partners overseas we actively promote the Isle of Man just as much, if not more, than ourselves. It’s a philosophy of ours that when the Island benefits from good publicity, so do we. I think the Island is much better known and much more appreciated in the international arena than it has ever been.

The traditional financial services sector that we might associate with KPMG seems to be waning – where do you see emerging areas of business?

MF: I’m not convinced the financial services sector is waning – and it has always been challenging! Banking reform and the financial difficulties post-2008 have had a big impact so maybe the path isn’t quite as straight as before. But the Government’s drive to diversify the economy is really bearing fruit – eGaming has been a major success and the focus on technology, whilst constrained by resources, has opened up new areas such as crowdfunding and cryptocurrencies. Building on the existing high value manufacturing base also has great potential.

Staff at KPMG have been raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society over the past year. How important do you think it is for businesses to support their local communities?

MF: I hate the CSR acronym and the implication that supporting a charity is almost an extension of a business’s marketing activity. You should do it because you think it is the right thing to do and I’m really proud of the commitment our staff have given to their selected charities. This is the fifth year we have focussed on supporting a Charity of the Year in particular and we concentrate on raising as much as possible for that cause.  So far we have raised over £100,000 in that time.

How would you describe your management style?

MF: I definitely like to make decisions and get on with things. I try to demonstrate an inclusive style where everyone feels they can contribute and don’t get overridden but I would much prefer to decide something and do it really well. Procrastination or inaction is not a choice!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given in your career?

MF: “Always leave something in deal for the next person.” It was said to me about twenty years agoand it really resonated as a way of approaching and managing business relationships.

What would you say is your greatest achievement to date?

MF: My family comes first, of course, and I am very proud of our son Thomas. I am also enormously proud of KPMG and how we work together. I am mindful that we have around 120 employees and their families dependent on us,which is quite a responsibility, but I love being part of such a successful business.

What are your interests outside of work?

MF: We have a lovely garden, which takes up a lot of spare time. I also enjoy skiing – I came to it quite late in life so I am still quite passionate about it – as well as fishing, a little bit of art collecting and all things heritage. I have been Chair of the Friends of Manx National Heritage for a number of years, which I really enjoy.

If you didn’t live in the Isle of Man, where would you like to be?

MF: I have never really longed to live anywhere else and didn’t feel the need to go away to the Caribbean or other exotic locations after getting my professional qualifications. I am visiting Denmark soon and feel the ‘cool’ Scandinavian way of life might have some attraction to it. I certainly couldn’t live anywhere too hot!

Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t know?

MF: I’m not keen on bright lighting. My office is often described as ‘The Cave’!

If there was something about your life you could change, what would it be?

MF: It sounds corny but there’s probably nothing I would change. I’ve been enormously fortunate. I was very lucky in my early professional life to be articled to J G Fargherand then to be taken under the wing of Jack Morris, both old school accountants. They taught me everything and really set me up for my whole career.