The individual declined to pursue the opportunity, citing culture concerns.

KPMG is casting a wide net for the positions, targeting partners at rival big four firms and senior executives within advertising and industry.

A KPMG spokeswoman played down how much the firm would be willing to pay any potential new partner, saying that an individual would need to have deep experience to be told the position paid more than $900,000.

High client demand

She said the firm needed the new partners due to client demand for customer-related advisory services and added the firm was also recruiting staff for the business.

“Our investment in customer, brand and marketing advisory reflects the very high demand for these services. Customer and citizen-centricity is a critical issue for businesses going into 2019,” she said.

Mr Howe’s customer, brand and marketing advisory practice has more than tripled its staff numbers since last June.

He kicked off the drive with the purchase of market research outfit Acuity Research and an initial team of six partners and 37 staff.

There are now 10 partners and 120 staff within the brand and marketing practice.

High-profile hires

Mr Howes has also made a string of high-profile hires, bringing on former JWT executive Carmen Bekker as head of a chief marketing officer (CMO) advisory team and former Droga5 Australia CEO Sudeep Gohil as head of brand.

In addition, former Virgin Australia chief customer officer Mark Hassell and former Google executive Lisa Bora have joined the firm as partners within the customer and marketing service line. Former Publicis Australia chairman Andrew Baxter is also a senior adviser within the practice.

Mr Howes also led the purchase of innovation agency UDKU, which saw founders Mark Timmins, Colin Jowell and Kon Marinis join the firm as directors.

KPMG’s investment into the brand and marketing practice is part of a broader trend of consulting firms looking to beef up their marketing consulting services.

Big four rival PwC has a focused CMO advisory practice while technology consulting firm Accenture splashed out $63 million on creative agency The Monkeys in mid-2017.

But the advertising firms are starting to fight back against the consulting onslaught.

At the local level, advertising and marketing company WPP AUNZ poached PwC’s Sunita Gloster for a newly created role of chief customer officer, while Carat, an agency within international marketing and communications company Dentsu Aegis has hired one of Accenture Interactive’s founder, Christine Removille, to be its new global president.

Email the reporter at edmundtadros@afr.com.au

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