(Bloomberg) -- KPMG is planning to merge its UK and Swiss firms to drive up profits at the smallest of the Big Four accounting firms.

Partners in both countries were told of the potential merger on Friday, according to one person familiar with the matter. A vote on the proposed combination could be held as early as next year, the person said.

“We have started conversations with our Swiss firm to explore how working more closely together would bring greater benefits to our clients, people and partners,” said Jon Holt, KPMG UK Chief Executive Officer, in an emailed statement. “Bringing together our two firms would give us more collective power to invest, build new services for our clients and provide our people with significant global career opportunities.”

Like other accounting firms, KPMG has been battling a fall in demand for its services caused by the tougher economic climate. Last month, the UK business froze pay for thousands of staff and cut bonuses despite high inflation.

KPMG will hold focus groups and open forums about the potential merger with UK and Swiss partners in the coming months ahead of a possible vote next year. The Financial Times earlier reported on the plans to merge the two units. 

The professional services firm has about 17,000 employees in the UK. The business reported £2.7 billion ($3.4 billion) in revenue in 2022, with partners earning an average pay of £717,000.

The firm’s Swiss arm employs over 2,600 people and reported net revenues of CHF 527.1 million ($603 million) in the 12 months to September 2023.

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