Annual report 2018: Kevin Ellis, Chairman's statement transcript

I’m delighted to share the 2018 Annual Report with our stakeholders.  We’ve had the opportunity over the last four years to produce four digital Annual Reports, and in producing those we have the opportunity to learn the areas of interest to our stakeholders and so they can learn more about our firm and we can be more transparent in terms of what we’re doing and what we’re innovating, and what we stand for.

By learning what interests our stakeholders we have the opportunity to drive our content in the same direction, and that’s what we’ve done this year and I really hope you enjoy it.

It’s been a good year for the firm and across all our lines of service and I’m particularly positive about the collaboration we’ve seen across our lines of service, as we bring one firm solutions to our clients and that’s particularly relevant with the 4th industrial revolution in terms of the need for technology.  The very same technology that our clients need, we’re finding that we need to.

Just like our clients, we have to change our model to ensure it’s efficient, effective and relevant, as well as being connected for the future.  Therefore we’ve invested in Cloud for our communications model through Google for work. We’ve invested in Cloud for Salesforce, our CRM model and we’ve just gone live with Cloud in our Workday model which oversees our HR engagement with our people.

Our people make the difference and every year tens of thousands of people apply to join us, school leavers, graduates and experienced hires.  This year for the 15th year running, we were delighted to be awarded ‘Graduate Recruiter of the Year.’ As a major employer and as a firm striving for quality our people are at the heart of everything we do.

Our overall objective is to deliver to our clients what they need at the highest possible quality and that goes across all our lines of service. And that fits with our recruitment model, our  training model and our day to day operations. We constantly strive for the highest possible quality and our recent quality review results remain strong. There were a few occasions where it was found that our audit did not reach the high standards that either we set or are expected of us by our clients or regulators and in those few occasions we have received sanctions and we’ve learnt lessons from those situations and dealt with them.

We continue to invest in our practice areas and our transparency report that sits alongside this report sets out the investments we’ve made in our Assurance practice to further the development of the audit offering.  

As a business I think we should be judged by the three areas that we contribute; Contribution to society as a whole, minimising our impact on the environment, but ensuring that we’re a successful business, able to create wealth, pay taxes and invest in our people and technology, so that we’re successful both now and into the future.

Our purpose is our Northern Star, it guides us through the client work that we undertake.  It also ensures that we’re constantly aware of our impact on society and on the wider environment in which we operate.

Let me give you three examples where purpose is at the heart of everything we do.

Firstly audit. The efficient delivery and effective delivery of an audit ensures the efficient operation of the capital markets.  In a joined up, fast moving technology enabled world, there is a constant threat of cyber-attack and ensuring that we can both protect our clients or help them with business continuity in the face of such a threat is again a key part of our purpose.  And then there is insolvency, where for an effective market economy to operate there will always be insolvencies. Some of them will be high profile like Carillion and again our role on Carillion was to ensure the continuity of service in key public areas like the hospitals, schools and the transport system.

We also contribute to society at a local level, helping communities, supporting local charities through the PwC Foundation across all our offices in the UK.

Momentum in business is good, driven by a strong deals market but also a lot of change and transformation, driven by technology.  It’s causing our client to change their business model, their people model and the products they offer.

I’m really optimistic.  I think both the flow of talent into the organisation, through both the apprenticeship degrees and the experienced hires we’re able to make, in the areas we’re investing in, means we’re going to have the right people that our clients will need to help them solve the important problems they face in what is a fast changing and ever complex world.

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