KPMG's mortage help for staff shows property is becoming the UK's American healthcare crisis

The accountancy firm's help for staff struggling to get on the property ladder is the first shot in a new war for talent.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 25 Sep 2014

KPMG has fired the first shot in a new war for talent: help for its staff to get on the increasingly inaccessible London housing ladder.

The new policy, announced to staff on Wednesday, forms part of a private banking package that includes preferential mortgage rates with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. While it’s countrywide, there’s no doubt it will be most popular in London and the commuter belt.

‘Owning a home is fast becoming a fairytale for all but society’s wealthiest. We are working hard to raise the issue with policy makers and clients but we also want to make a tangible difference to our staff who also face this problem,’ said the professional service firm’s UK chairman Simon Collins.

The mortgage subsidy, which used to be common in the high interest rate 1970s, marks a departure from higher London salaries - companies’ usual way of tackling the exorbitant costs of buying in the capital, where the average home now costs £500,000. Companies aren’t likely to go as far as guaranteeing mortgages of employees who could well leave, though, according to brokers speaking to the FT.

Even though there have been signs London’s property market is cooling somewhat, prices still rose a staggering 19.1% in the year to July, driven in large part by foreign demand. KPMG, then, are clearly worried the madness is putting potential staff off jobs in the city.

It’s a sign that UK property, London particularly, is becoming our US healthcare. Where KPMG goes, no doubt other firms – probably their fellow accountants, management consultants and commercial lawyers – will follow. That will tie people to those companies, much like health insurance did (and still does to a large extent) in the US, while exacerbating the problem for those not lucky enough to land a job with such cushy benefits.

Take your seats for the new war for talent.

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