We work with a wide range of stakeholders and believe it is vital to be as transparent as possible in helping them understand what we do and how we do it. Acting with integrity and demonstrating the values that we uphold as a firm is critical to our reputation and sustained success.
The financial crisis and a perceived decline in the standing of business in society has resulted in increasing focus on how organisations conduct themselves, whether they can be trusted and whether they are demonstrably living and breathing the right values.
We are alert to this and we work hard to foster a working environment that creates a positive culture underpinned by strong professional ethics and behaviours.
We believe that if we can achieve the right culture supported by an appropriate tone at the top then ‘doing the right’ thing becomes the norm amongst our people.
This commitment to ‘doing the right thing’ is central to PwC’s strong brand and trusted reputation. We always need to be aware of the threats to our reputation and have put significant focus on this issue at the senior level. We recently appointed two UK partners to lead our reputation and regulatory strategies respectively, which is a clear demonstration of the importance we give to this area.
Most recently, we have been the subject of unprecedented public scrutiny as a result of the Competition Commission’s investigation into the large audit market and the ongoing debate on tax issues.
As a responsible business organisation, we believe that engaging in a transparent manner with key stakeholders is vital to ensure that there is strong mutual understanding and that matters affecting our profession are properly debated and examined, with all the relevant facts on the table.
We regard the tone from the top of our organisation as critical to upholding our core values of integrity, independence, professional ethics and professional competence. Our leaders communicate both internally and outside the firm about our core values and we ensure that these values are reflected in personal objectives set annually.
We expect our people to take personal responsibility for bringing these values to life, so that we can rightly claim to be the high quality trusted advisers that we all aspire to be.
We are committed to delivering high quality work for our clients and take our public interest responsibilities extremely seriously. Our focus on quality is a priority for our Executive Board and we work hard to ensure that we have quality embedded in all our work through tools and processes, training and experience and by having the right culture and values.
In addition, our Public Interest Body, which includes a majority of independent non-executive members, takes a keen interest in quality and discusses at its meetings regular reports from the Executive Board member responsible for Risk and Quality.
We aim to recruit, train, develop and retain the best people. We have structured programmes to deliver high quality service. This training encompasses the ethical values and behaviours that are needed to meet our public interest responsibilities.
In addition, for certain types of work we specify levels of experience and specific additional training to ensure that the individuals are equipped to undertake that type of work.
We invest in the right tools and processes to ensure that our people are able to deliver consistently high quality work. Updating our tools and processes is important as it allows us to develop and build on our thinking in ways that are innovative, effective and efficient for all of our clients and other stakeholders.
Our assessment of quality is ongoing. We have review programmes throughout the year and we have independent teams that evaluate our partners and staff both when client engagements are ongoing or when they are completed. We do this to ensure that we assess compliance with quality standards as well as regulatory requirements. Findings and feedback are discussed with line management and client engagement teams so that changes and improvements can be reflected quickly and appropriately. We are also subject to external review and we work constructively with the audit inspection functions of the Financial Reporting Council and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), each of which carries out annual assessments of our audit work with a range of clients.
We believe that our reputation for quality is high. However, given the size and nature of our business we, like others, do sometimes fall short of the high standards we set ourselves. When this happens, we are honest with our clients and ourselves about what has gone wrong and we seek to discuss and resolve the issues with the client. We seek to learn lessons from these experiences and share them to avoid them being repeated.
We engage with a range of stakeholders across government, business, the regulatory world and media. We see this as critical to making sure that we make a relevant contribution to public policy debates and market issue discussions.