Founded in 1998, when accounting practices Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse merged together, PricewaterhouseCoopers has provided financial services for clients in over 26 industries for over two decades. Both its parent firms originated in London during the mid-1800s.
William Cooper founded an accountancy practice in 1854, which later became Cooper Brothers seven years later. In 1954, the firm agreed with Lybrand, Ross Bros & Montgomery and McDonald, Currie and Co. to adopt the name Coopers & Lybrand when practicing internationally.
Accountant Samuel Lowell Price partnered with William Hopkins Holyland and Edwin Waterhouse in 1865, which later became known as Price, Waterhouse & Co. In 1998, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged together.
In 2010, the firm shortened its name to PwC, which is what it is more commonly known as, however legally remains PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Today, the accountancy giant focuses on delivering services relating to tax, assurance, auditing, crisis management and transactions, among other things, to its clients and stakeholders globally. Furthermore, PwC offers its expertise and influence to assist governments, non-profit organisations, relief agencies and high education institutions in addressing their business issues.
Following the Covid-19, PwC’s UK financial results for 2020 were detrimentally affected by the world’s economic downturn. While the Big Four firm saw its revenues increase by 3% at £4.380bn, its profits dropped by 8% which resulted in a 10% cut to all partner payouts.
By the end of the financial year, ending 30 June 2020, profit had fallen drastically from £1.016bn in 2019, with the average distributable profit per partner falling to £685,000 in comparison to £765,000 last year. The firm’s tax division reported the highest revenues at £1.071m, while PwC’s consultancy practice saw the strongest growth 11% to £1.057bn over the period.
PwC’s assurance division was split into two separate audit and risk assurance divisions on 1 July 2019. Revenues for its auditing services rose by 5% with revenues of £1.003bn for the year, while risk assurance dropped by 5% to £468m.
In reaction to these results, PwC’s UK chairman Kevin Ellis said: “For the first eight months of the financial year we saw good performance across our balanced portfolio of services.
“We started to feel the impact of the pandemic in March and saw growth slow significantly by the end of June, impacting the last four months of our financial year and into the current financial year.”
He added: “Since September we’ve seen a steady uptick in demand despite the uncertainties of Covid-19 and Brexit.”
In response to the pandemic and the rise in home working, PwC announced it will be providing its employees with a flexible hybrid working model, referring to it as the ‘Deal’. The move is also part of the firm’s Net Zero commitment.
Ellis said: “Without conscious planning now there’s a risk we lose the best bits of these new ways of working when the economy opens up again.
“The future of work is changing at such a pace we have to evolve continually how we do things to meet the needs of our people and our clients.”