PwC annual report: the drive to keep improving

PwC annual report: the drive to keep improving

It’s been another great year for PwC. But how many of their targets have been reached, and what will 2019 bring?

PwC released their 2018 digital report on 17 September, providing a full summary of this year’s statistics. They have covered topics such as societal contribution, strategy, diversity, and purpose.

In the firm’s report, they state: “PwC UK, the professional services firm, has reported revenue of £3.76bn for the year ended 30 June 2018, up 5% from £3.6bn last year, as the firm continues to invest in people and technology across the UK to support its clients.”

This is an upwards climb in revenue that has proven to be consistent, as there was also a recorded growth of 5% from 2016 to 2017.

The highest area of revenue growth is in their deals sector, which has seen an increase of 10% on 2017, from £649m to £711m.

Whilst these figures are all important when it comes to the firm’s level of success, the main points of interest in their report focus on PwC’s employees, the external environment, and the firm’s investments in various technology ventures.

  1. A company that grows gains more opportunities for success

This year, 104,000 people applied for a job with the firm, and PwC has reported that 3,441 people were hired. 1,297 of these were graduates and school leavers, the remaining 2,144 all experienced professionals in their chosen fields.

PwC has also been focused on encouraging young people to take up a career in accountancy, and for their workforce to engage with charitable work. 66,400 hours of volunteering with communities and charities has been logged by the firm’s workforce this year. They have helped over 10,000 young people with skills training.

  1. Diversity in the workplace and happiness amongst employees is key

46% of the new hires were women, whereas 29% of 2018’s new hires were BAME. This is an improvement on previous percentages. Diversity in the workplace is another area that PwC has really focused on this year, ensuring that they have published their progress against gender and ethnicity targets across the business for the third year running. This is also the second year in which PwC has shared their BAME pay data.

Over 60 organisations have backed the firm’s Tech She Can Charter; this focuses on supporting women in technology. Coupled with the publication of their gender pay data for the fifth year in a row, this can clearly be defined as progress.

The report states: “PwC UK’s mean gender pay gap including partners for 2018 is 43.2%, down from 43.8% in 2017. The mean BAME pay gap including partners for 2018 is 35.7% down from 35.9% in 2017.”

It’s a step in the right direction, but there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to bridging the gaps in pay and ensuring there is equal representation in accountancy. This is a continuing aim for the firm when it comes to their goals for 2019.

Kevin Ellis, PwC UK chairman and senior partner, said: “With technological changes having a significant impact on the jobs market, it is more crucial than ever that we ensure high skilled and high paid jobs of tomorrow are attainable, regardless of a person’s background.”

He added: “As a major UK employer, we believe our business is stronger for having a diverse workforce.

“We made a number of changes to our recruitment processes to reflect this, including launching an action play to promote social mobility, introducing an innovative Flexible Talent Network to open up new opportunities for people who don’t want to work a traditional work pattern, banning all-male shortlists and expanding our paid work experience opportunities.”

Following on from mounting concern over mental health in the workplace and the lack of support available in a number of industries, PwC has attempted to counteract this. They have extended their Green Light to Talk mental health campaign, in the hopes of further supporting their employees, as well as sponsoring Pride this year.

  1. Improving audit processes

Beyond the realms of improving the quality of working life for their employees and growing their workforce, PwC has been involved in regulating the increasingly murky waters of audits.

Ellis said: “During the year there has been significant scrutiny of our profession and the audit market in particular, with recent commentary highlighting concerns over competition, choice and audit quality.”

PwC’s Chairman emphasised how the firm is committed to helping regulators in their investigations as they “are clear that audit quality must be the top priority.”

Both the BHS and Tenon Financial Reporting Council investigations were settled by PwC. Ellis has admitted that their work “fell below the standards expected” of the firm, and the standards they demand of themselves. The UK Chairman has insisted that, when PwC gets things wrong, they “learn the necessary lessons and improve [their] processes.”

Ellis concluded: “Audit remains a fundamental part of the firm and the commitment to continuously improve audit quality is at the forefront of our strategy.”

  1. Investment in technology continues

In the world of accountancy, technology is becoming more dominant and essential when it comes to making a success of your business.

PwC has been particularly focused on investing in the sector this year, for Ellis said: “We’ve made a step change in our digital transformation this year with significant investment in cloud-based technologies such as Google for Work, Salesforce, and Workday, as well as continuing to invest in emerging technologies expertise in AI, virtual reality and a drones team to build and innovate client services.

“We’ve continued to grow our cyber, data and analytics, and technology risk propositions, and developed date visualisation and machine learning tools to enhance the insights we provide to businesses.”

However, with the increased efficiency of technological inventions, there is the question of how much pressure this will put on job preservation and availability.

PwC has launched tech and data degree apprenticeships at an array of universities: Leeds, Birmingham, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Queen’s in Belfast. This will allow over 100 students per year to complete their university degree, whilst also gaining paid, hands-on experience in this sector.

Bridging the gap between the accounting industry and technology, these future generations should help PwC’s progress as they take steps into this rapidly developing industry.

Ellis continued: “Our research into the potential economic impact of AI and drones has helped fuel debate on how we harness these technologies responsibly and effectively.”

Following on from 2018: Now what?

“Despite uncertainty over Brexit, all four of our business divisions grew this year, with high demand for technology-related services, including cyber, data analysis and GDPR,” PwC’s UK chairman said.

The numbers speak for themselves; there has been a marked increase across all sectors. PwC topped the Accountancy Age 50+50 Rankings this year and is leading by example as they remain focused on constant making constant improvements across the board.

“Momentum in our business is good,” Ellis said. “[It is] driven by a strong deals market and demand for technology-driven business expertise, as we see organisations turn to us to help them transform their business models, many in response to digital disruption.”

It can be concluded that PwC has had a successful year. Looking forward to 2019, the firm will be looking to continue to be innovative, engaged, and focused on promoting equality across all sectors.

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