Employees in EY’s UK deals business have voiced their frustration and disappointment with the company’s management in the wake of recent job cuts and a significant decline in sales, according to an internal survey obtained by the Financial Times.

In a presentation shared during a recent meeting for 270 employees, the survey results pointed to a pervasive sense of low morale and discontent within the division of EY’s strategy and transactions business.

The respondents criticised the management for a perceived lack of transparency and accused them of making misleading comments regarding a recent redundancy round known as “Project Century.”

The survey revealed that staff felt “shocked,” “deflated,” and “insecure” about the recent job cuts. Some respondents claimed that the messaging from managers lacked transparency, asserting they were told that jobs were not “currently” at risk before the announcement of the cuts.

Lack of transparency

One employee expressed their sentiments, stating, “Trust is broken, and as soon as the market improves, I would [sic] jump ship.” Another respondent highlighted the shock and lack of transparency, stating, “Still in shock, lack of transparency resulting in [a] lack of trust, the floor looks disconnected.”

This internal dissatisfaction emerges as EY, along with other Big Four accounting and consultancy firms such as Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC, has been implementing substantial job cuts in response to a broader slowdown in demand for their services.

EY’s strategy and transactions division, one of the firm’s main business lines, is currently grappling with challenges in a weakened deals market. The presentation disclosed that total net revenues in the deals business, which employs 2,000 people, dropped by 7 percent between July and January compared to the same period in the previous year. Gross margins also experienced an almost 14 percent decline. In the 12 months leading up to June 2023, revenues at the division rose by 8 percent to approximately £635 million.

The Big Four have seen a decrease in demand for dales

The decrease in demand for deals advisory work is a common trend across the Big Four, influenced by higher interest rates and geopolitical tensions leading to a global slowdown in mergers and acquisitions. Last month, the Financial Times reported that Deloitte was scaling back its UK deals business following a profitability review.

EY had cut around 300 jobs last year and has continued to dismiss staff in the current year. During the latest financial year, partners at the firm earned an average of £761,000.

In response to the survey findings, EY issued a statement, saying, “This was an informal poll completed by 70 people, or 0.3 per cent of our UK workforce.” The company did not provide additional details regarding plans to address the concerns raised by the surveyed employees.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.