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Storytelling Helps a Global Firm Transcend Its M&A Past

In 2015, KPMG LLP wanted to use its history in a fresh and engaging way—not simply as a chronology of mergers and acquisitions—to engage with its people. The audit, tax and advisory firm knew that the nature of its business would not naturally yield evocative and highly illustrative stories. It called upon History Factory to draw meaningful connections among the firms that came together to form today’s KPMG and craft a showcase for its annual U.S. Partners’ Meeting that would use this heritage to support contemporary messaging. 

History Factory sent researchers across the United States to conduct interviews and find artifacts. We also gathered artifacts and stories from KPMG member firms in Europe and Australia. One of our more notable discoveries was the 1911 ship manifest from the RMS Lusitania, where founding partners William Barclay Peat and James Marwick agreed to merge their firms while sailing across the Atlantic on the famous ocean liner. Our team also discovered a thriving retirement community in California that Marwick established in the 1920s. The founder’s quiet act of philanthropy demonstrated that the firm has been committed to a higher purpose from the beginning. Our exhibit structure was carefully crafted to place emphasis on these new stories and the array of fascinating corporate artifacts we found. 

Partners’ Meeting attendees, seen gathering around popular artifacts including 1890s ledger books and correspondence with U.S. presidents, were delighted by the exhibit. Several leaders of the firm requested that the exhibit be made available for other firm events. KPMG wrote of History Factory’s team: “Their focus, sense of teamwork, and attention to detail turned what could have been a very stressful experience into a successful and memorable one.”