Paul Eagland – 2020 Comments on BDO Not Repaying Furlough Money

The comments made by Paul Eagland, the managing partner of BDO, on 10 December 2020 following the company’s decision to pay partners £137 million.

It’s been a year completely unique to any other. A year when we have all worried about the health of friends and family but also one where economic uncertainty has led to increased anxiety for everyone.

To fully understand our annual results, they should be broken down into two very different periods: pre-lockdown and lockdown. The strength of our overall financial results derives entirely from the first nine months before the crisis hit us. The last three months tell a completely different story with revenues and profits falling as lockdown took hold.

To brace ourselves for the COVID-19 impact, our first step was to ask partners to reduce their monthly ‘pay’ and forego their quarterly distributions. Subsequently – and in order to protect the jobs and pay packets of our 5,500 UK people – we applied to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We ensured our furloughed employees were paid in full by topping up their wages to 100% during their time on furlough, and we brought all our employees back into full time employment with no redundancies made across our workforce.

COVID-19 has already had a huge impact on our business and we don’t know what lies around the corner. This means we have had to take a number of tough but prudent decisions to ensure the sustainability of the firm and to protect our people’s jobs – not just for the initial lockdown period but also looking ahead to the slow, challenging recovery.