Using your social media at work may have calamitous consequences – KPMG dismisses Financial Services Head after conduct probe story


1. Tim Howarth, Head of Financial Services Consulting and Risk Consulting at KPMG, has left the company following an internal investigation into his conduct. Howarth was previously a senior manager at the FCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

2. Howarth, who had worked for KPMG for 15 years, was investigated over allegations of misconduct relating to messages he sent via Whatsapp, according to the Financial Times.

3. A spokesperson for KPMG told the FT: “We hold all of our people to a very high standard and take swift and appropriate action against any individual whose behaviour contravenes the firm’s values.

4. “As part of this commitment, we can confirm conduct issues have been raised related to a partner, and following an internal investigation and disciplinary panel, that partner has left the firm. Under our process the partner has appealed.”

5. Tim Howarth told the FT: “I am surprised by the KPMG announcement of the outcome of a disciplinary panel, which is bizarre as the decision is under appeal.

6. “I have not been given the reason for that decision. I had already resigned from the KPMG partnership. I did not believe that the process was fair or would lead to a just outcome. There is no complainant and there were no formal allegations pursued by anyone.”

Comsure thoughts

1. It comes as no surprise that the popularity of social media is growing, with an estimated 35.7 million people using it in the UK alone.

2. Social media is used for many different reasons – from making professional connections, to solving work problems, connecting with family and friends, or to pass the time as you take a break.

Top tips to stay compliant when using social media at work:

1. Read your company’s social media policy –

a. Make sure you know what your company’s attitude is to social media – for example, is some personal use allowed during lunch or break times or is there a complete ban?

2. Know what is expected of you –

a. Be clear about what behaviour is and isn’t allowed – for example, updating your Facebook status may be acceptable during lunch or break times, but make sure you don’t say or comment on something that may be considered detrimental to your firm, or reveal commercial secrets, or share offensive images or emails.

3. Avoid airing grievances –

a. It may be safer to stay clear of social media altogether if you’ve had a bad day at work; always avoid airing personal grievances about your boss/colleagues/customers online as this may lead to disciplinary action.

4. Don’t use your work email for personal use –

a. Most companies will prohibit you from using your work email to post comments on chat forums, sign up for social media or shopping sites, or buy goods online, unless it is for work purposes.

5. Don’t claim to represent your firm online or make comments on their behalf –

a. Unless it’s your job to do so!

6. Think before you post –

a. Remember that social media sites are considered ‘public’ by law and once you’ve posted something online, it is impossible to remove it again. So, don’t post anything that may compromise your personal safety or breach confidentiality.