Audit – PwC loses Abbey habit

PricewaterhouseCoopers is expected to be formally dropped as Abbey National’s auditor when shareholders meet today for the bank’s agm.

The high street bank’s chairman, Lord Tugendhat, will ask shareholders to approve that Deloitte & Touche takes over the audit, worth #2m a year.

Abbey National wants to sack the accounting giant over concerns it has relating to the concentration of financial service audits that PwC has in its hands following the Coopers & Lybrand/Price Waterhouse merger. When Accountancy Age revealed the bank’s decision last November, Abbey said it wanted to be its auditor’s number one banking client, rather than one of many.

The loss of such a prestigious client as a direct result of the PwC merger is a major embarrassment for the firm, but it has been quick to point out that it has managed to assuage the fears of many of Abbey’s rivals. The firm also argued that its experience with other financial services clients would benefit Abbey.

Keith Woodley, former English ICA president and chairman of the bank’s audit committee, disagreed, however. He said dealing with PwC was like dealing with a completely new set of auditors.

Rivals suggest that the PwC merger may have caused it to be held to ransom by some clients who have launched reviews to get a freeze or reduction in audit fees.

Related reading