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PwC lost no time in posting a message on its website claiming that it would now be the only truly independent global auditing firm.

However ironic you may think this is in light of the firm’s drive for size over the last few years, it does signal that independence is something auditors are beginning to have to take much more seriously, and that the days of accountancy firms as the one-stop shop for businesses could be numbered.

What is interesting now is to ponder what the future shape of the profession will be. The consulting arm of Ernst & Young could soon link up with Cap Gemini, and KPMG has long muttered about some form of flotation of its consulting business.

All the firms have been busy forging alliances and joint ventures to exploit the growth of e-business. All this has been driven by their consulting arms, which are eager to raise new capital and forms of funding – a desire not compatible with auditor independence.

Is this a divorce between accountants and their consulting partners?

And what will happen to the ‘purer’ accountancy firms which are left behind?

Will they be forging new alliances with each other? Will there be another wave of mergers?

What about the increasing competition in areas such as risk management, assurance and benefits advice between accountancy firms and companies such as Aon, which has expanded into these fields from insurance brokerage?

Could there be room for new alliances here? will be covering these issues in detail over the coming months.

Meanwhile, to read about the PwC decision, click on the following headlines.

Audit independence rules force world’s largest firm to split

Partnership structure to end as PricewaterhouseCoopers splits?

PwC will be only truly independent Big Five auditor, says chief

Is this the end of the one-stop shop? What will PwC’s consultancy arm do with its new found freedom ?

PwC risks its number one position: Consultants in search of a slice of the capital markets action? has also launched a competition this week offering news bulletin subcribers to win a luxury weekend in Barcelona. To enter, visit the homepage.

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