PwC to double Asia Pacific business with $3 billion investment

28 June 2021 Consultancy.asia 3 min. read
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PwC has announced a $12 billion five-year global investment into a variety of strategic initiatives, including $3 billion slated for doubling its Asia Pacific business over the period.

The commitment is part of a newly launched strategy dubbed ‘The New Equation’, with one quarter of the $12 billion sum to be funnelled into Asia Pacific. As well as enhancing the skills of its existing employees, the firm aims to hire 100,000 additional professionals through its latest strategic investment, a more than one third increase on its existing headcount of 285,000 in just the space of five years.

While promoted as a new strategy, PwC continues to emphasise “building trust in society” as a key component of its focus, arguing that with growing societal expectations it has never been more important, or difficult, for businesses to gain and maintain trust across a variety of contemporary issues important to stakeholders. The second, interconnected pillar is to deliver sustained outcomes in an era where competition and the risk of disruption are also more intense than ever.

PwC - The New Equation

“Success depends on fundamental shifts in the way executives think, organisational culture, systems and ambition,” the firm states on the first point of building ‘trust’, adding on the second issue of commercial sustainability that, “Businesses need to change faster and more thoroughly to attract capital, talent and customers. Too often, however, narrowly conceived transformation initiatives do not deliver the outcomes they promise. A new approach is needed.”

The $12 billion injection is a sharp increase on the $7.4 billion invested over the five years since 2016 (according to figures from the Financial Times), incidentally the year when rival Deloitte overtook PwC as the world’s biggest professional services firm. Since then, Deloitte has continued to edge further ahead, stretching out to a $4.6 billion gap on PwC’s 2020 revenues of $43 billion, with the fast-growing Asia Pacific proving a major battle ground.

Still presently contributing less than a fifth of the firm’s revenues – or around $8 billion last year – PwC intends to pump $3 billion into APAC with the stated aim of doubling the size of its regional business by 2026, with the focus on significantly scaling in strategic areas such as ESG, digital transformation, and mergers & acquisition. As part of the investment, PwC will also establish an Asia Pacific Leadership Institute to foster increasingly needed soft skills.

“To do what we are setting out to do, we are mobilising multi-disciplinary teams, powered by technology and drawing on deep specialist expertise,” said PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz, who also stepped into the role back in 2016. “We will continue to evolve our ways of working, and expand our capabilities in the areas that matter most for the future, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to quality.”

As to audit, PwC will invest $1 billion towards accelerating audit technology and developing models to meet an evolving audit landscape. Along with Leadership Institutes in other regions, a good chunk will also be put toward establishing a global ESG Academy and expanding its Centres of Excellence for ESG specialists, while funds will be put toward rapidly extending the firm’s use of cloud, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other emerging technologies.

“The PwC global network strategy has a focus on growth which strongly aligns with our Australian firm’s strategy,” said recently installed Australia CEO Tom Seymour. “As part of PwC Australia’s digital transformation strategy, we are making a significant investment in growth to meet the rising demand for skills in cyber, cloud and assurance services, plus increasing our capacity onshore to address data sovereignty and security concerns.”