PwC gets tough with member firms


The PricewaterhouseCoopers
global network is set to receive the power to hit member firms with fines if
they fail to meet the audit giant’s standards.

The firm is looking to tighten standards of service around the world, and the
move is part of its overhaul which sees the firms ‘clustered’ together to ease
global decision making.

‘[Previously] the network arrangements only provided for a non-compliant firm
to be expelled, although of course in practice there were many intermediate
steps that might be adopted. [Now] there will be very clear procedures to say
what happens at each point, the processes and remedial actions,’ said UK partner
Peter Wyman.

Wyman said that fines could be a part of that process, but that it was a
‘hypothetical’ question. In many cases, support might be required rather than
anything else, he said.

The national member firms are set to sign up to the new standards setup,
which are likely to prove as significant as the ‘cluster’ arrangements. The
three groupings of national firms will enable decisions on resources to be made
more quickly, but the clusters will have no legal status, secretariats, HQs or
separate financial resources.

Wyman played down the idea that the moves would raise PwC’s liability risk.
‘It shouldn’t [change the situation] in a negative sense. It should improve it
in a positive sense.’ He stressed that improved standards would reduce risk.

Accountancy networks have historically wasted little time in getting rid of
member firms involved in major corporate frauds and other issues, but lesser
problems have attracted little publicity.

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