- 'K' stands for Klynveld. Piet Klynveld founded the accounting firm Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. in Amsterdam in 1917.
- 'P' is for Peat. William Barclay Peat founded the accounting firm William Barclay Peat & Co. in London in 1870.
- 'M' stands for Marwick. James Marwick founded the accounting firm Marwick, Mitchell & Co. with Roger Mitchell in New York City in 1897.
- 'G' is for Goerdeler. Dr. Reinhard Goerdeler was for many years chairman of Deutsche Treuhand-Gesellschaft and later chairman of KPMG. He is credited with laying much of the groundwork for the KMG merger.
In 1911, William Barclay Peat & Co. and Marwick Mitchell & Co. joined forces to form what would later be known as Peat Marwick International (PMI), a worldwide network of accounting and consulting firms.
In 1979, Klynveld joined forces with Deutsche Treuhand-Gesellschaft and the international professional services firm McLintock Main Lafrentz to form Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG).
In 1987, PMI and KMG and their member firms joined forces. Today, all member firms throughout the world carry the KPMG name exclusively or include it in their national firm names.