PricewaterhouseCoopers (trading as PwC) is a multinational professional services network headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the largest professional services firm in the world, and is one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG. Vault Accounting 50 has ranked PwC as the most prestigious accounting firm in the world for seven consecutive years, as well as the top firm to work for in North America for three consecutive years.
PwC is a network of firms in 157 countries, 756 locations, with more than 208,100 people. As of 2015, twenty-two percent of the workforce worked in Asia, twenty-six percent in North America and Caribbean and 32 percent in Western Europe. The company's global revenues were $35.4 billion in FY 2015, of which $15.2 billion was generated by its Assurance practice, $8.9 billion by its Tax practise and $11.3 billion by its Advisory practice.
The firm was formed in 1998 by a merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse. The trading name was shortened to PwC in September 2010 as part of a rebranding.
As of 2016, PwC is the 5th-largest privately owned company in the United States.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers name was formed by the combination of the names of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, following their merger in 1998. On 20 September 2010, PricewaterhouseCoopers rebranded as PwC, although the legal name of the firm remained PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The firm was created in 1998 when Coopers & Lybrand merged with Price Waterhouse. Both firms had histories dating back to the nineteenth century.
Coopers & Lybrand
In 1854 William Cooper founded an accountancy practise in London, which became Cooper Brothers seven years later when his three brothers joined.
In 1898, Robert H. Montgomery, William M. Lybrand, Adam A. Ross Jr. and his brother T. Edward Ross formed Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery in the United States.
In 1957 Cooper Brothers; Lybrand, Ross Bros & Montgomery and a Canadian firm McDonald, Currie and Co, agreed to adopt the name Coopers & Lybrand in international practice. In 1973 the three member firms in the UK, US and Canada changed their names to Coopers & Lybrand. Then in 1980 Coopers & Lybrand expanded its expertise in insolvency substantially by acquiring Cork Gully, a leading firm in that field in the UK. In 1990 in certain countries including the UK, Coopers & Lybrand merged with Deloitte Haskins & Sells to become Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte: in 1992 they reverted to Coopers & Lybrand.
Samuel Lowell Price, an accountant, founded an accountancy practise in London in 1849. In 1865 Price went into partnership with William Hopkins Holyland and Edwin Waterhouse. Holyland left shortly after to work alone in accountancy and the firm was known from 1874 as Price, Waterhouse & Co. (The comma was dropped from the name much later.) The original partnership agreement, signed by Price, Holyland and Waterhouse can be found in Southwark Towers, one of PwC's important legacy offices (now demolished).
By the late nineteenth century, Price Waterhouse had gained significant recognition as an accounting firm. As a result of growing trade between the United Kingdom and the United States, Price Waterhouse opened an office in New York in 1890, and the American firm itself soon expanded rapidly. The original British firm opened an office in Liverpool in 1904 and then elsewhere in the United Kingdom and worldwide, each time establishing a separate partnership in each country: the worldwide practise of PW was therefore a federation of collaborating firms that had grown organically rather than being the result of an international merger.
In a further effort to take advantage of economies of scale, PW and Arthur Andersen discussed a merger in 1989 but the negotiations failed mainly because of conflicts of interest such as Andersen's strong commercial links with IBM and PW's audit of IBM as well as the radically different cultures of the two firms. It was said by those involved with the failed merger that at the end of the discussion, the partners at the table realised they had different views of business, and the potential merger was scrapped.
1998 to present
In 1998, Price Waterhouse merged with Coopers & Lybrand to form PricewaterhouseCoopers (written with a lowercase "w").
After the merger the firm had a large professional consulting branch, as did additional major accountancy firms, generating much of its fees. Management Consulting Services (MCS) was the fastest growing and often most profitable area of the practice, though it was cyclical. The major cause for growth in the 1990s was the implementation of complex integrated ERP systems for multi-national companies. PwC came under increasing pressure to avoid conflicts of interests by not providing a few consulting services, particularly financial systems design and implementation, to its audit clients. Since it audited a large proportion of the world's largest companies, this was beginning to limit its consulting market. These conflicts increased as additional services including outsourcing of IT and back office operations were developed. For these reasons, in 2000, Ernst & Young was the first of the Big Four to sell its consulting services, to Capgemini.
The fallout from the Enron, Worldcom and additional financial auditing scandals led to the passage of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (2002), severely limiting interaction between management consulting and auditing (assurance) services. PwC Consulting began to conduct business under its own name rather than as the MCS division of PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC therefore planned to capitalise on MCS's rapid growth through its sale to Hewlett Packard (for a reported $17 billion) but negotiations broke down in 2000.
In 2000, PwC acquired Canada's largest SAP consulting partner Omnilogic Systems.
In March 2002 Arthur Andersen, LLP affiliates in Hong Kong and China completed talks to join PricewaterhouseCoopers, China.
PwC announced in May 2002 that its consulting activities would be spun off as an independent entity and hired an outside CEO to run the global firm. An outside consultancy, Wolff Olins, was hired to create a brand image for the new entity, called "Monday". The firm's CEO, Greg Brenneman described the unusual name as "a real word, concise, recognizable, global and the right fit for a company that works hard to deliver results." These plans were soon revised, however. In October 2002, PwC sold the entire consultancy business to IBM for approximately $3.9 billion in cash and stock. PwC's consultancy business was absorbed into IBM Global Business Services, increasing the size and capabilities of IBM's growing consulting practice.
PwC began rebuilding its consulting practise with acquisitions such as Paragon Consulting Group and the commercial services business of BearingPoint in 2009. The firm continued this process by acquiring Diamond Management & Technology Consultants in November 2010 and PRTM in August 2011. In 2012 the firm acquired Logan Tod & Co, a digital analytics and optimisation consultancy, and Ant’s Eye View, a social media strategy development and consulting firm to build upon PwC's growing Management Consulting customer impact and customer engagement capabilities. On October 30, 2013, the firm announced that it would acquire Booz & Company. On November 4, 2013, the firm acquired BGT Partners, a 17-year-old digital consultancy. PwC's Public Sector practise was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2014.
The company currently offers a growing range of enterprise-level software services to meet rising data management challenges.
PwC's operations are global, but with Europe accounting for forty percent of the total.
PwC is organised into the following three service lines (the 2016 revenue shares are listed in parentheses):
- Assurance (43%)
- Advisory (32%) – mainly consulting activities which covers Strategy, Performance Improvement, Transactions Services, Business Recovery Services, Corporate Finance, Business Valuation, Sustainability and Crisis Management in a range of specialist areas such as accountancy and actuarial advisory.
- Tax (25%) – international tax planning and compliance with local tax laws, customs, human resource consulting, legal services and transfer pricing
PwC has developed several broader advisory initiatives in the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework, including a global effort to assist corporations with outsourcing, as well as a global political risk assessment with the political risk advisory firm Eurasia Group.
Advisory services offered by PwC additionally include two actuarial consultancy departments; Actuarial and Insurance Management Solutions (AIMS) and a sub branch of "Human Resource Services" (HRS). Actuarial covers mainly 4 areas: pensions, life insurance, non-life insurance, and investments. AIMS deals with life and non-life insurance and investments, while HRS deals mainly with pensions.
PwC serves the US Federal Government through their Public Sector practice. PwC has over 2000 professionals based in the Washington Metro Corridor.
The firm announced on October 30, 2013 that it would acquire Booz & Company, including the company's name and its 300 partners, after a December vote by Booz & Company partners authorised the deal. On March 31, 2014, Booz & Company combined with PwC to form Strategy&.
PwC has offices in 776 cities across 157 countries..
|Notable PwC office buildings|
PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. PwC is registered as a multidisciplinary entity which additionally provides legal services.
The current PwC logo was introduced in September 2010, to coincide with the firm changing its trading name from PricewaterhouseCoopers to PwC. It was designed by Wolff Olins.
Gender employment discrimination
In 1989, the United States Supreme Court held that Price Waterhouse must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the decision regarding employment would have been the same if sex discrimination hadn't occurred. The accounting firm failed to prove that the same decision to postpone Ann Hopkins's promotion to partnership would have still been made in the absence of sex discrimination, and therefore, the employment decision constituted sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The significance of the Supreme Court's ruling was twofold. First, it established that gender stereotyping is actionable as sex discrimination. Second, it established the mixed-motive framework as an evidentiary framework for proving discrimination under a disparate treatment theory even when lawful reasons for the adverse employment action are additionally present. Ann Hopkins's candidacy for partnership was put on indefinite hold. She eventually resigned and sued the company for occupational sexism, arguing that her lack of promotion came after pressure to walk, talk, dress, and act more "femininely."
Following the suit, the firm has received media attention due to its discriminatory labour practises towards males as well. Although incidents of such labour marginalisation take place rarely, there were several cases of unfair work treatment.
548 tax arrangements relating to 343 multinational corporations and Luxembourg which were negotiated by PwC became public in 2014 in the so-called Luxembourg Leaks.
PwC received $55m from Caterpillar Inc. to develop a tax avoidance scheme, according to an investigation of the senate. $8bn in profits were shifted from the US to Switzerland which allegedly made it possible to save more than $2.4bn in US taxes over a decade. In Switzerland profits were taxed at 4%. A PricewaterhouseCoopers partner who was involved in designing the tax savings plan commented: “We'll all be retired when this . . . comes up on audit.”
In 1990, the US Internal Revenue Service seized most of the assets of Willie Nelson, claiming he owed $32 million in back taxes, including penalties and interest. He sued Price Waterhouse, contending that they put him into tax shelters that were later disallowed by the IRS. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
American International Group Inc.
BusinessWeek said that PwC was American International Group Inc.'s auditor through years of "questionable dealings." AIG on 30 March 2005 said that deals with a Barbados-based insurance company, for instance, might have been incorrectly accounted for over the past 14 years, because an AIG-affiliated company might have been secretly covering that insurer's losses.
BusinessWeek said that PwC appears to have "dropped the ball" on the deals between AIG and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s General Re Corp. General Re transferred $500 million in anticipated claims and premiums to AIG. BusinessWeek asked: "Did the auditor do its job by verifying that AIG was assuming risk on claims beyond the $500 million, thus allowing AIG to account for the deal as insurance? That's Accounting 101 in any reinsurance transaction."
PwC was additionally criticised by several witnesses throughout the investigation into AIG's collapse, after the insurer was unable to fulfil its collateral obligations to Goldman Sachs. The insurer was expected to cover the difference in value between the credit default swap contracts it had sold to Goldman Sachs, however the head of the unit at AIG disagreed with the valuation that Goldman presented. According to a memo published by Business Insider, witnesses wondered how PwC was signing off on the accounts for both AIG and Goldman Sachs, when they were using different valuation methods for the swaps contracts (and therefore booked different values for them in their accounts).
From April 2000 to 2006, PwC's affiliate of assurance service in Japan was ChuoAoyama Audit Corporation (中央青山監査法人 Chūō-Aoyama Kansa Hōjin). In May 2006, the Financial Services Agency of Japan suspended ChuoAoyama from provision of a few statutory auditing services for two months following the collapse of cosmetics company Kanebo, of which three of the partners were found assisting with accounting fraud for boosting earnings by the company of about $1.9 billion over the course of five years. The accountants got suspended prison terms up to eighteen months from the Tokyo District Court after the judge deemed them to have played a "passive role" in the crime. The suspension was the first ever imposed on a major accounting firm in the country. Many of the firm's largest clients were forced to find replacement auditors before the suspension began that July.
Shortly after the suspension of ChuoAoyama, PwC acted quickly to stem any possible client attrition as a result of the scandal. It set up the PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata, and a few of ChuoAoyama's accountants (but most of the international divisions) moved to the new firm. ChuoAoyama resumed operations on 1 September under the Misuzu name. Notwithstanding by this point the two firms combined had thirty percent fewer clients than did ChuoAoyama prior to its suspension. Misuzu was dissolved in July 2007.
In July 2007, PwC agreed to pay US$229 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders of Tyco International Ltd. over a multibillion-dollar accounting fraud. The chief executive and chief financial officer of Tyco were found guilty of looting $600 million from the company.
In January 2009 PwC was criticised, along with the promoters of Satyam, an Indian IT firm listed on the NASDAQ, in a $1.5 billion fraud. PwC wrote a letter to the board of directors of Satyam that its audit might be rendered "inaccurate and unreliable" due to the disclosures made by Satyam's (ex) Chairman and subsequently withdrew its audit opinions. PwC's US arm "was the reviewer for the U.S. filings for Satyam." Consequently, lawsuits have been filed in the US with PwC as a defendant. Two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Srinivas Talluri and Subramani Gopalakrishnan, have been charged by India's Central Bureau of Investigation in connexion with the Satyam scandal. Since the scandal broke out, Subramani Gopalakrishnan has retired from the firm after reaching mandatory retirement age, while Talluri remains on suspension from the firm.
In November 2010, The New York Times reported that PwC had been assisting the Russian Government with prosecutions in relation to alleged tax evasion at Yukos stating "Then, in 2007, with the prospect of parole on the horizon, the same prosecutors—with what appears to be the complicity of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Yukos's longtime accounting firm—indicted the two men (Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev), again, bringing a new round of Kafkaesque charges."
A cable from the US embassy in Moscow stated that the trial was politically motivated and that a deposition in a US court by PricewaterhouseCoopers might show that PwC was pressured by the Russian government to withdraw its prior Yukos audits. An embassy source noted that if the audits weren't properly withdrawn it "would greatly tarnish PWC's international reputation." Russian authorities were investigating PwC for tax evasion, but suspended the investigation once PwC withdrew the Yukos audits.
Global Trust Bank Ltd and DSQ Software
India's accounting standards agency ICAI is investigating partners of PwC for professional negligence in the now-defunct Global Trust Bank Ltd. case of 2007. Like Satyam, Global Trust Bank was additionally based in Hyderabad. This led to the RBI banning PwC from auditing any financial company for over a year. PwC was additionally associated with the accounting scandal at DSQ Software in India. Following the Satyam scandal, the Mumbai-based Small Investor Grievances Association (SIGA) has requested the Indian stock market regulator SEBI to ban PwC permanently and seize its assets in India alleging few more scandals like "Ketan Parekh stock manipulations."
Transneft Russia case
The construction of the ESPO (East Siberia-Pacific Ocean) pipeline by Transneft was estimated to cost in excess of US$13 billion. A leaked report of the Audit Chamber of the Russian Federation indicated that the total amount stolen and syphoned from the company throughout construction through various mechanisms and schemes reaches up to US$4 billion. A Moscow Times editorial stated that one of the chamber's auditors attempted "damage control" by saying in effect, "Yes, money was stolen, but not as much the media reported." PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was Transneft's auditor and denied wrongdoing saying "We believe there are absolutely no grounds for such allegations, and we stand behind our work."
In 2007, PwC was criticised by the Treasury Select Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for helping Northern Rock, a client of the firm, to sell its mortgage assets while additionally acting as its auditor. In 2011, a House of Lords inquiry criticised PwC for not drawing attention to the risks in the business model followed by Northern Rock, which was rescued by the UK government throughout the financial crisis.
JP Morgan Securities audit
In 2012, the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) of the UK fined PwC a record £1.4m for wrongly reporting to the Financial Services Authority that JP Morgan Securities had complied with client money rules which protects client funds. The accountants neglected to cheque whether JP Morgan had the correct systems in place, and failed to gather sufficient evidence to form opinions on the issue, and as a result, failed to report that JP Morgan failed to hold client money separate from JP Morgan's money. It is the greatest penalty administered to a professional accountancy firm in the UK.
World Bank favouring for water privatisation in Delhi
PwC was found to be unethically favoured by the World Bank in a bid to privatise the water distribution system of Delhi, India, an effort that was alleged as corrupt by investigators. When bidding took place, PwC repeatedly failed in each round, and the World Bank in each case pressured PwC to be pushed to the next round and eventually win the bid. The effort at privatisation fell through when an investigation was conducted by Arvind Kejriwal and the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Parivartan in 2005. After submitting a Right to Information (RTI) request, Parivartan received 9000 pages of correspondence and consultation with the World Bank, where it was revealed that the privatisation of Delhi's water supply would provide salaries of $25,000 a month to four administrators of each of the 21 water zones, which amounted to over $25 million per year, increasing the budget by over sixty percent and water taxes 9 times.
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which administers the water system of Delhi, was first approached by Parivartan in November 2004, following a report by the newspaper The Asian Age, where the scheme was revealed to the public for the first time. The DJB denied the existence of the project, but after an appeal, the RTI request was granted. The documents revealed that the project began in 1998, in complete secrecy within the DJB administration. The DJB approached the World Bank for a loan to improve the water system, which it approved, and the effort began with a $2.5 million consultation loan. The Delhi government could have easily provided the money, and the interest rate of twelve percent that was to be loaned by the World Bank could have been raised on capital markets for 6%. Following the consultation, 35 multi-national companies bid, of which six were to be short listed. When PwC was in tenth place, the World Bank said that at least one company should be from a developing country, and after PwC made the bid from its Kolkata office, it was dubbed an "Indian" company, and its rank was dropped to 6th. When PwC failed in the second round, the World Bank pressured the DJB to start over with a fresh round of bidding. Only one company succeeded in the new round that wasn't PwC, and the World Bank had the lowest marks from an evaluator thrown out. The contract was awarded to PwC in 2001. Following the investigation by Parivartan, a campaign was waged by Kejriwal, Aruna Roy, and additional activists across Delhi, and the DJB withdrew the loan application to the World Bank.
In 2013 Cattles plc brought a legal action against PwC in the UK in respect of the 2006 and 2007 audits claiming that they had failed to carry out adequate investigations. Cattles, a UK consumer finance company, later discovered control weaknesses which caused its loan book to be materially overstated in its balance sheet; having been listed as a FTSE250 company, it subsequently lost its listing. PwC disputed this legal claim. The claim was settled out of court on undisclosed terms.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) issued a fine of £2.3m on PwC and ordered the firm to pay £750,000 costs following their investigation of the 2007 audits of Cattles and its principal trading subsidiary. PwC admitted their “conduct fell significantly short of the standards reasonably to be expected of a member firm” in respect of the 2007 financial statements. The FRC said that PwC had insufficient audit evidence as to the adequacy of loan loss provisions.
PCAOB report on audit inspections
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) report on audit work carried out by PwC in 2012 in respect of US public companies identified significant deficiencies in 21 of 52 audits examined. The PCAOB report on work carried out in 2013 identified significant deficiencies in 19 of 59 audits examined.
PwC Ireland is being sued by the joint administrators of Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL) for €1bn. Having been audited by PwC for the years 2005 to 2008, QIL went into administration in 2010. The administrators allege that PwC should have identified a material understatement of QIL’s provisions for claims.
Connaught plc, a UK former FTSE 250 Index outsourcing company operating in property maintenance for the social housing and public sector, was put into administration on 2010 after reporting material losses. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is investigating the conduct of PwC and its senior statutory auditor in respect of the 2009 audit. In 2015 the FRC issued a formal disciplinary complaint against PwC.
In 2014 Tesco, a UK retailer, announced that it had overstated profits by £263m, amongst additional things by misreporting discounts with suppliers. The Financial Reporting Council has started an investigation into accounting practises at Tesco and into the conduct of PwC in carrying out its audits in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Two members of Tesco's Audit Committee, responsible for monitoring Tesco's relationship wth its auditors, had themselves previously worked for PwC, including its chairman, Ken Hanna; he later stood down. In 2015 PwC were replaced as auditors of Tesco, ending a 32-year engagement, following a tender process to which they didn't participate.
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ
In 2014, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ was investigated by New York banking regulators over its role in routing payments for Iranian customers through its New York branch in violation of U.S. sanctions. It was found that PwC had altered an investigation report on the issue; PwC itself was fined $25 million in relation to the matter.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation by Microsoft founder Bill Gates has sued Petrobras and accounting firm PwC Brazil arm over investment losses due to corruption at the Brazilian oil company. The filings have additionally alleged that PwC's Brazil affiliate, PricewaterhouseCoopers Auditores Independentes, played a significant role by attesting to Petrobras financial statements and ignoring warnings.
PwC in the UK is being investigated by the Financial Reporting Council over its conduct in relation to the audit of BHS for the year to 30 August 2014. PwC completed their audit of financial statements in which BHS was described as a going concern days before its sale for £1 to a consortium with no retail experience. BHS collapsed the following year with a substantial deficit in its pension fund.
MF Global malpractice lawsuit
In 2016, United States federal judge rejected PwC's bid to dismiss a $1 billion lawsuit accusing the accounting firm of professional malpractice for helping cause the October 2011 bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd, a brokerage once run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.
PwC was ranked #9 by Consulting Magazine in the 2016 Best Firms to Work for ranking published in their September 2016 edition.