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, 22% of the workforce worked in Asia, 26% in North America and Caribbean and 32% 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 practice and $11.3 billion by its Advisory practice.
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 19th century.
Coopers & Lybrand
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 practice 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 could be found in Southwark Towers, one of PwC's important legacy offices (now demolished).
By the late 19th 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 practice 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 realized 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 other 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 some 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 other 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 capitalize 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.
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 practice 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 Inc 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 practice was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2014.
PwC's operations are global, but with Europe accounting for 40% of the total.
PwC is organized into the following three service lines (the 2014 revenue shares are listed in parentheses):
- Assurance (45%)
- Advisory (29%) – 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 (26%) – 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 also 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 authorized 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 also provides legal services.
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 had not 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 also 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 labor practices towards males as well. Although incidents of such labor marginalization take place rarely, there were several cases of unfair work treatment.
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, may have been incorrectly accounted for over the past 14 years, because an AIG-affiliated company may 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 also criticised by several witnesses during 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 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 some 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 some 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. However, by this point the two firms combined had 30% 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 may 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 connection 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 may show that PwC was pressured by the Russian government to withdraw its prior Yukos audits. An embassy source noted that if the audits were not 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 also based in Hyderabad. This led to the RBI banning PwC from auditing any financial company for over a year. PwC was also 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 siphoned from the company during 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 also acting as its auditor. In 2011, a House of Lords inquiry criticized PwC for not drawing attention to the risks in the business model followed by Northern Rock, which was rescued by the UK government during 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 check 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 privatization in Delhi
PwC was found to be unethically favored by the World Bank in a bid to privatize 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 privatization fell through when an investigation was conducted by Arvind Kejriwal and the non-governmental organization (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 privatization 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 60% 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 12% 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 10th place, the World Bank said that at least one company should be from a developing country, and since 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 was not 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 other 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.
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 other things by misreporting discounts with suppliers. The Financial Reporting Council has started an investigation into accounting practices at Tesco and into the conduct of PwC in carrying out its audits in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2015 PwC were replaced as auditors of Tesco, ending a 32-year engagement, following a tender process to which they did not participate.
The charity 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 also alleged that PwC's Brazil affiliate, PricewaterhouseCoopers Auditores Independentes, played a significant role by attesting to Petrobras financial statements and ignoring warnings.