175 years of PwC

Legacy to future

2024 marks 175 years since Samuel Price set up as a sole trading accountant. This began PwC’s journey to a leading professional services firm, with today's diverse 364,000-strong community of solvers across 151 countries.

Constantly innovating and transforming - always with trust and quality at our core - our story is one that brings sustained outcomes to shifting industries, geographies and cultures. This year we are celebrating our history and how it has led to the organisation we are today. This history propels us forward as a human-led, tech powered business, ready to help our clients embrace the challenges of the future.

175 years committed to working with clients to answer their biggest questions: from building trust, to addressing their climate impact and proving the progress they are making.

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Milestones in motion: Celebrating 175 years of PwC

As we celebrate the 175-year legacy of PwC, watch our journey through time revisiting pivotal moments that have shaped our firm into what it is today.

Our Alumni

Over the past 175 years, our firm has undergone an extraordinary journey marked by the dedication of thousands of talented people. As we celebrate our 175th anniversary, we are shining a spotlight on some of our alumni and how they have shaped and contributed to PwC’s history. These profiles offer a glimpse into the diverse talents and accomplishments that have defined our legacy, and who we are today.

Emma Richardson

Emma, an experienced HC professional, was at PwC between 2007 and 2015, working in London and Kolkata.

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Our history

By the firm's archivist, Ben Sharratt

Thousands of clients, hundreds of offices, dozens of mergers and countless talented people define the 175-year history of PwC. 

From Samuel Lowell Price’s one-room office at 5 Gresham Street in Dickensian London, the firm has evolved to span the globe and become a respected voice not just in professional services but in areas ranging from climate change to technology. 

Truth and fairness were at the heart of the firm’s purpose in the mid-19th century, when clients in a rapidly changing industrial landscape sought greater assurance and accounting expertise. 

Being ‘tech-enabled’ in 1849 meant pen, ink, leather-bound ledgers and candle-light. As the decades passed, the importance of technology on our ability to provide quality client service continued to grow. The telephone, the typewriter, the calculator and, of course, the computer are some of the essential tools of the trade that have underpinned the skill and judgement of our people. 

Today we don’t merely draw on that technology to do what we do; we mould and create it to achieve the best results for the firm, our clients and our communities.

Making it to our 175th anniversary has, of course, not been without its challenges. In 1849 London was in the grip of a cholera epidemic. There have been stock market crashes, recessions, two World Wars, numerous geo-political situations and a global pandemic, the effects of which are still being felt by business and society. Globalisation has demanded new approaches and the diversity of our workforce continues to be a work in progress.  

To negotiate these challenges we have had to learn to change with the times. Samuel Price did so by forming a partnership with Edwin Waterhouse and William Holyland in 1865. Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand did so by merging in 1998. Arguably, we have seen more evolution in the last 25 years than in the previous 150 - which is why this is such an exciting time to celebrate our landmark anniversary.  

What has remained consistent through all this change is the focus on quality and emphasis on investing for the future. It's been a long and eventful journey so far.

Where will our brand take us next?

Highlights from our history

1854

Cooper Brothers is headquartered at 14 George Street, London and remains there for the next 105 years

1904

The first UK office outside London is opened in Liverpool

1914-1918

Women are employed by the firm to fill the positions of men serving during the First World War

1975

Price Waterhouse turns City tradition upside down by moving south of the river into Southwark Towers – today the site of The Shard

1998

Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merge to form PwC

2009

PwC UK forms a Strategic Alliance with the Middle-East firm

2024

PwC builds up to its 175th birthday on 24 December

“A firm grows not only by reason of the industry of its partners and staff, but also because its clients grow and set new standards to which it must adapt.”

Former Board member Donald Chilvers

“There is something truly special about this firm. Whether you stay, leave or retire, you are always a PwC person.”

Sir Ian Powell, former Senior Partner

"Our people make our firm inspirational. They attract and retain the brightest and best talent we need to help our clients create the value they’re looking for, and they’re the reason I look forward to coming to work every day."

Kevin Ellis, Senior Partner

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