PwC partners left in the dark over new positions

Hundreds of partners in the newly formed PricewaterhouseCoopers were still waiting to discover their new roles this week, despite a flurry of last minute appointments to the firm’s management team.

Major areas of the UK firm’s work remained officially leaderless, as the decision over who should head service lines, regional offices and industry sectors was delayed until after the launch of PwC yesterday.

Several senior partners, who currently head divisions in the old firms, told Accountancy Age they expected to hear in the next few days if they were to take up leadership roles in the UK or Europe, or if they would be moved sideways.

A spokeswoman for Coopers & Lybrand, speaking a day before the merger, said: ‘There has been a flurry of appointments in the last week, but we are not in a position to release all the names.’ She conceded that not all departments will be ‘sorted out’ in the first weeks of the merger.

Nicholas Moore, PwC worldwide chairman, said the new firm would be able to offer its staff ‘unparalleled career opportunities’ and reaffirmed plans to hire 1,000 people a week across the world.

PwC will inherit 140,000 staff in 152 countries. Moore claimed that current income for the combined firm would equal annual revenues of $15bn (#9.4bn), a rise of 21% on the last stated figure of $12.4bn (#7.8bn) for 1997.

But the firm in the UK will be top-heavy, with more than a thousand partners. PwC denied it was pursuing a policy of early retirements for some senior figures. It claimed skilled people were in great demand within the new firm.

Neither PW or Coopers have developed a strict policy on retirement for partners over 50 years old. Deloitte & Touche and Arthur Andersen are credited with formal policies which encourage partners to leave the firm after they reach 50.

Moore said PwC would be more flexible in its attempts to retain high quality staff.

He said telecommuting, parental leave, unpaid leave for up to six months with a job guarantee and paid sick leave for emergency care of immediate family would be brought in to encourage staff retention.

UK senior partner Peter Smith said clients should benefit from its $500m annual spend on IT. ‘It will benefit all clients and not just international corporations,’ he said.

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