PricewaterhouseCoopers has widened the gap on its nearest rival and enjoyed a relatively trouble-free year
Like many others, our judges would like to see more competition at the top
end of the market. That said, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers is the convincing winner
of this year’s award for Big Four Firm of the Year.
The firm has seen its turnover grow by 12% to £1.8bn, widening the gap over
its nearest competitor, Deloitte, by £88m. Tax showed a healthy return to growth
turnover increased 8% to £514m, after a fall the year before.
PwC maintained its leadership position in FTSE100 audits with a 42% share,
nearly twice that of any other firm. The firm now audits one-third of the top
100 largest private companies, and has won contracts with companies like the RAC
from its Big Four rivals, while retaining existing business.
The firm has also continued to penetrate the consultancy market. PwC provides
advisory, rather than audit, services for 11 of its top 20 clients, despite
selling its IT consultancy business to IBM.
Advisory turnover increased by 9% to £405m, following good growth last year,
and made up 46% of turnover. The firm now ranks as the UK’s 11th largest
Client satisfaction levels are high: the firm’s submission said that
independent research shows PwC is perceived to be the most effective accountancy
firm in the middle market, and a client survey showed a satisfaction rate of
PwC also makes efforts to ensure good levels of staff satisfaction, and
carries out a survey every quarter. The last one revealed that 95% of staff are
proud to work there, a figure, it says, that is much higher than the average
across professional services firms.
Staff bonuses increased by 42% in 2005, no doubt contributing to the low
level of turnover which was only 11% last year, the lowest rate on record.
The firm was voted the UK’s number one graduate employer by a survey in
The Times, and has made a successful effort to diversify its workforce.
Of this year’s graduate recruits, 21% were from ethnic minority backgrounds and
the firm is also planning to extend a successful scheme to offer placements to
PwC won plaudits for its Green Fleet initiative, which helped it to run a
more effective company car strategy, and its staff are encouraged to take part
in volunteering activities to benefit the community.
Business in the Community rated the firm fifth in its Corporate
Responsibility Index, more than 50 places ahead of any other professional
‘PwC has been smart in the way it has solved problems and has some very smart
people. It’s an entry that gets better as you read it,’ said our judges.
Entrants were required to demonstrate financial improvement, evidence of
winning new clients, and effective use of resources.
In a year that has seen Deloitte caught up in the BCCI/Bank of England case,
Ernst & Young sued by Equitable Life, and KPMG in trouble in the USfor
marketing tax havens to wealthier clients, PwC has had a relatively smooth time
In every category, PwC showed itself to be a worthy winner.