PwC is a multinational professional services firm and ranks as one of the 'Big Four' global accountancy firms.
We spoke to Andrew Packman, Total Tax Contribution and Tax Transparency leader at PwC, about the firm's long ties and commitment to the UK and the attractiveness of the UK's financial ecosystem to companies and businesses as well as professional services firms.
What does your firm do?
“PwC is a network of firms in 158 countries which employ more than 250,000 people, including nearly 20,000 in the UK. We provide assurance (audit), advisory and tax services, offering a wide range of services in those practice areas to companies of varying sizes and individuals. Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems.”
Your firm, and accountancy firms in general, have a long established history with the UK. Why is that?
“The UK was the first country to have an active market in the shares of public companies. As limited liability and joint stock companies were developed in the middle years of the 19th century – and in particular in response to the railway boom of the 1840s – the London market for professional services, in particular auditors, accountants and lawyers, became extremely well developed.”
The UK has a strong financial services ecosystem. How important is it to be part of that?
“In the City of London you have all the elements that go to servicing and running capital markets.
So from raising money, accounting for that money and reporting to shareholders to dealing with all of the legal requirements, you have a very strong and rich ecosystem of organisations which provide the services needed to service a global financial centre.
This means there is a well developed market in professional services with a large community which can provide whatever advice an organisation might need at each stage of its life cycle. This means that there is demand in the market for a wide range of firms from larger firms to smaller organisations.
As the world of global business gets more complicated and businesses have more complex needs, you increasingly need very particular advice and expertise. You need to find the right people with the skills to provide specialist advice. Because the UK has the scale to support a number of very large firms, we are able to invest in that kind of very specialist service.”
What role does location play in this context, looking at City accountancy firms and City financial services firms but also at the many regional business and finance centres across the UK?
"It is important to have people located close to our clients across the UK so that we provide the personal, direct service that clients need. As well as our base close to the City of London we have a strong presence across the UK, reflecting the importance of the regional centres.
As the world of work evolves, proximity is less important than it was but it is still extremely helpful to sit down and talk to somebody about a particular issue in hand. That is a huge benefit to companies, particularly when they have transactions or points of change in their business when they have a particular need for expert input.
Which services do accounting firms provide that are crucial to the success of financial services firms and vice versa?
“The fact that there is a very strong audit regime in the UK gives investors confidence in the financial statements upon which they make their investment decisions. The strong audit regime provided by accountancy firms in the UK is a key underpinning of the financial markets and particularly important in an era of globalisation and rapidly advancing technology. We further support the financial ecosystem by providing a training ground for the business leaders of the future.”