Big 4, Others Start Roping in Govt Officials

The professional services firms have started hiring senior government officials from the finance ministry, RBI and SEBI as they struggle to find experts who can advise clients on dealing with regulatory and tax policy issues.

Some of the largest firms including the big four, EY, PwC, Deloitte and KPMG have roped in several officials in the last few months as they scale up their non-audit advisory services.

Market leader EY has recently roped in two heavyweights, NS Viswanathan, the former deputy governor of RBI and Nandkumar Saravade, the former founding CEO of Reserve Bank Information Technology Pvt Ltd (ReBIT). Both Vishwanathan and Saravade will be joining EY as advisors in the financial services practice.

While vishwanathan will help strengthen EY regulatory counsel, Saravade will help shore up the firm’s Forensics and Cyber Security Practice, a senior official in EY said.

“Our firm has a strong sector-focused approach to providing strategic counsel to our clients. It is our constant endeavor to help them evaluate risks and opportunities’ in a volatile business environment. Both Vishwanathan and Saravade bring dynamic leadership and counsel in this direction. With their rich experience in the regulatory ecosystem, they will play an integral role in enabling long-term value creation for our clients,” said Abizer Diwanji, Prather and Financial Services Leader, EY India.

In January, PwC had shaken the market by hiring the high profile Akhilesh Ranjan, a former Central Board of Direct Taxes member in its tax policy practice.

Insiders say that even Deloitte is on a lookout for top class government talent having hired Sanjay Kumar, LN Pant and Ashutosh Dikshit from the revenue department earlier.

“As a professional services firm, we continue to hire and attract talent from across sectors with diverse skill sets. The public sector and government in implementing large scale programmer’s as well as regulatory expertise. Their training in solving complex and critical issues beings depth to our teams and helps us serve our clients and the community better,” a Deloitte spokesperson said.

While numbers are tough to come by, it is estimated that between them the Big Four have 40-60 ex-government employees on their rolls or engaged in advisory capacity-and the numbers are rising.

“It is a war for talent, and the government poaches consultants all the time.

The current crop of senior government officials may be some of the smartest we have in the industry, and it makes absolute sense for us to rope them in Just for the sheer experience they possess. We are actively engaged in a few more discussions,” said a CEO of a top multinational firm.

In many cases the consultancy firms are offering benefits to government officials so that they can take an early retirement, or in some cases reject extension offers. The firms are offering crores plus salaries to top talent from government services. Industry traction as exposure to policy formation, large scale project handling skills and other aspects related to digitization, international taxation are becoming increasingly crucial for the firms. S-ET

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