PricewaterhouseCoopers will increase its global workforce by more than a third over the next five years as part of a $12 billion investment in staffing, training, technology and deals designed to capture a burgeoning market for environmental, social and governance consulting.
The plan, announced Tuesday, represents a significant acceleration of the audit and advisory group’s $7.4 billion investment since 2016, in which time its annual revenue grew 20 percent to $43 billion.
The expansion will add 100,000 people to a workforce that has grown by more than a quarter, to 284,000 people, in the past five years.
It includes a $3 billion plan to double its Asia Pacific business, which brought in $6.4 billion in revenue in the year to June 2020, and the launch of “Trust Leadership Institutes” in the United States and Asia to train clients in business ethics and ESG fundamentals.
Investors are increasingly scrutinizing the social impact of the businesses they support and the impact on their financial returns, and PwC’s investment plan is the strongest signal yet that the Big Four accounting firms expect ESG advice to become an essential part of all of their business lines, just as digital capabilities become the norm. over the past decade.
Bob Moretz, PwC’s global head, said the company “will invest significantly to redefine itself and rebrand to make sure we value what our customers need and what the world needs.”
The market for professional advice on “pure” sustainability issues, such as clean technology and sustainable investing, reached $1 billion globally in 2020, according to Source Global Research, which expects that combining sustainability advice with other services will be more profitable for advisors. .
The other Big Four companies – Deloitte, EY and KPMG – include sustainability issues within long-standing practices such as auditing and assurance, and place greater importance on environmental, social and corporate governance standards in their businesses. EY has appointed Steve Farley, the former head of its UK member firm, as its first-ever global vice president of sustainability, for example.
Accounting firms also offer ESG training for auditors as the industry prepares for increased regulation in areas such as climate-related disclosures by firms. As discussed by the organizers ESG Consolidated Disclosures Similar to international accounting rules agreed upon decades ago, all PwC employees needed at least a “basic understanding” of ESG standards, said Tim Ryan, US President.
Ryan said the US business will combine accounting and tax reporting processes into a single unit called Trust Solutions. He said both divisions need to make similar investments, and both have been working hard to help clients be more confident at a time when society’s expectations of businesses are growing.
There will also be a $1 billion investment in quality control and audit automation. Ryan said PwC is planning acquisitions to improve its capabilities in areas including ESG, cloud technology and artificial intelligence.
The company has made small technology acquisitions in recent years, but the focus on ESG is likely to be seen as its biggest strategic shift since it bought strategic consultancy Booz & Co in 2014.
PwC’s spending plans include $125 million for a US initiative aimed at creating 25,000 jobs for students from racial and ethnic minorities over five years, including 10,000 within PwC. The American company currently employs 7,000 to 8,000 people annually.