Upholding our quality and ethics

We provide a detailed insight into our approach to how we govern ourselves and address risk in our 2016 Annual report, together with our view on the future of assurance and a report from our Public Interest Body in our 2016 Transparency Report. Additionally, we report our performance against a number of externally assured metrics around quality and ethics in our sustainability scorecard.

Our approach

As a professional services firm, much of our success depends on our ability to build and sustain trust.

So, we've created an ethical framework that incorporates applicable standards, laws and regulations - such as the legal and regulatory standards set to maintain our independence from our audit clients.

But we've chosen to go beyond these legal requirements and establish a culture that upholds integrity, objectivity and professional ethics, and professional competence. We've captured how we do this in our Code of Conduct which covers all our work, as well as a supplementary tax code of conduct for our tax practice. The tone for our ethical approach is set right at the top of the firm, promoting a culture and policies that support and encourage all of our people to do the right thing, especially when they have to make difficult decisions.

We embed the need for quality throughout our business, with detailed procedures and policies in place regarding ethics, human resources and the way we engage with our clients, for example. Measuring our progress also helps us keep us on track.

We also expect our suppliers to conform to similar ethical standards and, where relevant, to have systems and practices in place to ensure the prevention of:

  • Money laundering
  • Insider trading
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Fraud, bribery and corruption
  • Unauthorised access to personal and business information

Opportunities and risks

It's vital that everyone who comes into contact with us can trust us. That's why we strongly emphasise ethics and compliance. We aim to do business with confidence, integrity and humility. Doing the right thing, meanwhile, resides at the heart of our culture.

Trust with our clients, suppliers, our people and our other stakeholders means we can commit more quickly to actions, decisions and investment in innovations. It also allows us to attract and retain talented employees.

Programmes and systems

We have a strong set of internal programmes and systems in place to uphold our values and make sure we all adhere to our Code. These include:

Ethics training. All of our partners, staff and contractors undertake regular mandatory training to help them understand our ethical requirements, and we take a zero tolerance approach to non-completion of this training. We make it clear that we expect our people to embrace both the spirit and the letter of these requirements. Given the importance of ethics to our continued success, we measure and report our people’s perception of how ingrained ethical behaviour and culture is in the business through our ‘youmatter’ people survey. And, we report on the number of dismissals for misconduct, too.

Independence. We have policies, procedures and practices in place to make sure we maintain the necessary personal and firm independence from our audit clients, and which cover non-audit services, fee arrangements and business relationships. These form part of the mandatory training provided to all partners and staff, and deviations from policies and procedures, where they breach external rules, are reported to the Executive Board and can result in disciplinary action. We also provide information on breaches of external auditor independence regulations that were reported to the regulator in our sustainability scorecard.

Confidentiality. Confidentiality is vital to our reputation. Misusing or losing confidential client information or personal data doesn't just expose our clients to risk or us to legal proceedings. It can also harm our reputation. All partners and staff receive regular training on their confidentiality obligations.

We operate an Information Security Management System that complies with the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001:2013 for all client data that comes under our control or ownership by virtue of a contract for services between PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and a client.

Our information security policies and procedures aim to make sure that:

  • information is protected from internal and external threats
  • confidentiality, availability and integrity of information is maintained
  • statutory, regulatory and contractual obligations are met
  • access to information is granted only for justified business needs

Our ISO 27001 certification is subject to ongoing external assessments at all of our UK sites. We report the number of nonconformities to the standard identified by our external assessors as an indicator of our commitment to continual improvement in this area.

For more information on the UK and international standards to which our management systems are certified see our standards page.

Client and engagement acceptance. We have rigorous procedures for accepting and continuing clients and specific engagements. They help us to understand whether risks related to an existing or potential client are manageable, and whether we should do business with particular businesses or people.

Anti-bribery. Our Code of Conduct makes it clear that it's unacceptable for our people to solicit, accept, offer, promise or pay bribes. Policies, training and procedures designed to prevent bribery are in place.

Whistle-blowing. Our whistle-blowing helpline (0800 169 3590) is called Speak Up, and is available to any partner or employee who comes across bad business conduct or unethical behaviour that can't be resolved locally or for which the normal consultation process isn't suitable. Anyone raising a genuine concern which is in the public interest will be protected from victimisation. Third parties (including clients) can also telephone the Speak Up helpline.

For more information on our ethical requirements, including our Code of Conduct and independence procedures, take a look at our Transparency Report.