Awards 2003: Big Four Firm

And after much deliberation in a closely fought contest, say the judges, this year’s award goes to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the UK’s largest accountancy firm and last year’s winners of the coveted accolade.

This year has been no less difficult than the previous, but again PwC wowed the judges with its entry. Year on year it has been of an extremely high calibre.

Judges were impressed by the entry, which was comprehensive and concise and simply laid-out. It included its audit tender table, client case studies and comments, as well as numerous other examples of its work.One CEO client said: ‘It is the added value PwC give that makes them worth the fee.’

And, despite recent criticism, PwC this year increased its FTSE100 audit share from 43 to 47, winning new clients as well as securing re-tenders.

Evidence consistently shows that it is still the most rated audit firm in the country.

As well as servicing its clients to its full capability, the firm has not neglected its role in corporate social responsibility.

Another high-profile client said: ‘Of all our corporate partners, I have no hesitation in saying PwC has the most genuine, thorough and committed attitude to social responsibility.’

On top of the ongoing struggle to regain the public’s confidence in financial reporting and auditing, in which the firm has played a pivotal role, PwC has also been undergoing some structural change.

It became a limited liability partnership on 1 January 2003, meaning the firm will soon publish its full UK results for the first time ever, as well as its global results.

The judges looked at the extent to which firms had been a true help to their clients and how they had developed their internal structure and financial performance.

The firms needed to provide case studies that demonstrate how the firm has helped to give clients significant competitive advantages across all service lines.

Last year, PwC managed to secure the Big Four Firm Award, knocking Ernst & Young from its long-held pole position. In the wake of a year of US accounting scandals, the awards panel believed that PwC’s voice had been heard the loudest.

And again this year judges in this category said it was a ‘very strong, informative entry’ and it ‘stands above everyone else’.

Many of its most senior partners, including Peter Wyman, Rodger Hughes and Roger Davis, were credited with explaining the dry topics of audit and governance to a mostly uneducated audience – and of successfully winning over many doubters.

And, provided it keeps the momentum up, its case for winning might be even more compelling when it delivers its first UK results anytime now.

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