ABOUT THIS COMPANY:
As big as its name
PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited (PwC) formed in 1998 when then-Big Six firms Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged, creating the world's largest accountancy network. By 2002, after the dissolution of former competitor Arthur Andersen, the Big Five were down to the Big Four, and PwC sold its IT consulting operations, which had accounted for nearly 40 percent of the network's revenue, to IBM. Despite the downscaling, PwC has held its own among the Big Four.
PwC is structured as a network of member firms, all connected under one umbrella. Each member firm operates locally in its home country and region, but there’s plenty of inter-network collaboration and cooperation, too. The menu of services offered at each firm varies from country to country, but the typical PwC business lines include industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services.
The firm’s independent-but-connected structure has helped it build a robust international network of professional service practices. In most countries, the right to practice accountancy is only granted to national firms owned or controlled by local professional staff. Advisory and consulting services have been increasingly important to PricewaterhouseCoopers, whose member firms provide crisis management, performance improvement consulting, human resources solutions, business recovery, capital markets support and sustainable business solutions.
PwC firms are comprised of over 168,000 people in 158 countries. Western Europe remains the firm's biggest market: some 35 percent of employees are based there, compared to 24 per cent in North America and the Caribbean.
The scale of PwC's business is perhaps best underlined by its own figures: in fiscal year 2011, the firm counted 88 per cent of the FT Global 500 as clients: 33 per cent in audit and 55 per cent through other services. And they're not inflating their numbers with casual flings: for the purposes of generating those stats, PwC only counted firms that spent over $500,000 in a single year.
In the U.K., PwC is led by Ian Powell, who has been with the firm since 1977. The advisory unit is headed up by Kevin Ellis—a Nottingham University graduate who joined PwC in 1984.
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