PracticeConsultingIs this the end of the one-stop shop? What will PwC’s consultancy arm do with its new found freedom ?

Is this the end of the one-stop shop? What will PwC's consultancy arm do with its new found freedom ?

It should come as no great surprise that PwC has decided to wrench apart its two main components. The question one should ask is why it hasn't happened earlier?

There has been much speculation that the regulatory constraints placed upon PwC have made it difficult for the firm to operate as freely as it might.

One must now ask, what will the newly liberated consultancy division do with its new found freedom?

It seems a perfectly logical step for the consultancy division to carve its own independent niche in the marketplace. Power to its elbow and all that.

However, the statement released today hints that the consultancy division may not survive as a single entity.

If the company intends to divide its practice up by market sector or by consulting discipline, surely this will herald a diluted approach to a client base that is more interested in holistic solutions.

When PW and Coopers merged, the combined marketing departments trumpeted the benefits that came with a one-stop, all-encompassing solution that could only be provided by a consultancy with the scope and scale of PwC.

If PwC now intends to fillet its consultancy operation, clients may benefit from honed solutions but will undoubtedly miss out on the generic clout that PwC originally offered.

If the PwC cake is sliced into thin slivers, how many separate entities will clients be required to deal with.

When PwC and Coopers tied the knot, analysts and pundits stood by and waited for the fallout. The fallout never came and the company prospered. The merger was a combination of strengths. This time we are facing a separation of services. Will the PwC behemoth ever carry the same weight again?

There is one undoubted benefit that will result from the move. A month or so ago Andersen Consulting announced that it was to set up a division devoted to seeding and nurturing internet start-ups.

This venture capital exercise has been viewed by the other consultancies with envy.

The Andersen move must have hit PwC’s ego hard. They simply have not had the freedom to make such a move.

Now they will. CEO James J.Schiro makes sure that in his statement, the words ‘internet’ and ‘e-business’, are generously smattered. With news of the ‘disaggregation’ perhaps they will be able to become even more actively involved in the creation and provision of solutions.

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