PwC draws up plans to quit ICAEW

Speaking to Accountancy Age on the first anniversary of the merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse, Smith said the institute’s decision to vote against introducing optional papers into its syllabus had forced the firm to consider setting up its own training system, probably in conjunction with a leading business school.

PwC’s withdrawal would be a massive blow for the institute as the firm’s trainees account for more than a third of the institute’s annual intake of 4,200 students.

‘We can’t certify auditors, but not all of our 1,500 graduates will become accounting students and we can do a lot of our own training. It will be very harmful to the finances of the institute, but this is a wake up call to professional bodies,’ he said.

He said that the firm was already looking to work with the other accountancy institutes which appeared more modern in their approach. This week ACCA said that students who are completing the first and second part of its exams would be eligible for a BSc in Applied Accounting at Oxford Brookes University. English ICA director of education and training Phil Armitage said: ‘With the exception of electives, we have modernised our examinations to create business advisers and we will be meeting this Friday to discuss the future of the two advanced papers.’ He said a PwC qualification would be less recognisable in a global marketplace.


Slow growth in management consultancy was the principal black spot on PwC’s first 12 months, but an overall fee rise of 20% has left UK managing partner Peter Smith feeling buoyant about prospects.

Despite adding 10% to overall employment numbers, the firm’s consultancy fee income growth will show a drop from around 40% to nearer 30% when final UK figures are released in September. Smith discounted the fall as ‘realistic’ and said growth would be sustainable against a stable domestic economic background. That stability had already minimised culture clashes between Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand post-merger.

The firm is to spend ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ focusing the business more on technology and e-commerce. Smith admitted the cost of litigation has forced the firm to resign some audit clients and said limited liability partnership legislation was the only way to enable partners to cope with rising penalties.

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