Annual report 2017: Line of service highlights

Assurance

The disruptive force of technology is something that is impacting both our clients and our own Assurance practice in many ways. This year, we’ve been taking steps to ensure we are at the forefront of delivering quality technology enabled Assurance for our clients, while providing our people with rewarding and challenging opportunities.

Our audit practice continued to win major audits which this year includes Rolls Royce, Tata Steel, Close Brothers and Halma. We also completed our first reporting for Santander, the 5th largest UK bank. We have seen the results of some regulatory investigations into work performed several years ago this year, but we have shown a continued improvement in quality with 93% of our audits being assessed as being within the top category of ‘Good with limited improvements required’ by the FRC. We’ve also been exploring the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence in our audit work which you can find out more about in our Transparency report.

Our Cyber Security practice continues to grow from strength to strength. We continue to help clients enhance their cyber capabilities and defences, and support them during their time in need. Our advisory and technical experts have worked with a number of high-profile clients across many  industries, providing services from breach response, threat detection and intelligence, to strategy and risk assessment.

Our Risk Assurance practice worked on a number of technology enabled advisory projects. Working together with Consulting colleagues and gas industry participants, we developed a new central settlement system for OFGEM and innovative supplier risk management services in collaboration with IHS Markit and their ‘Know Your Third Party utility’ KY3P®. Outside of our FS work, our risk assurance practice grew by 15%.

93% of our audits were assessed as being within the top category of ‘Good with limited improvements required’ by the FRC.

We have set out a clear ambition to be the market leader in supporting organisations with their digitally combined business transformation opportunities

Consulting

Our Consulting business continues to evolve as our clients’ needs and aspirations change. We believe that getting to the heart of a client’s challenge requires a combination of deep industry knowledge and functional expertise and we are clearly seeing the advantage this gives our clients.

We are in the business of transformation, known for our focus on and commitment to achieving results. We combine strategy, technology and management consulting expertise to help organisations succeed, with an understanding of how business works and a knowledge of how the right technology in the right place can create competitive advantage.

This year, our strategy consulting practice, Strategy&, has continued to bring foresight and bold opinions about how markets are developing to give clients confidence in their long-term choices. Our recently published book ‘Fit for Growth’, focuses on how businesses need to transform in order to achieve and sustain growth despite today’s difficult and uncertain economic environment.

Our Technology Consulting practice has continued to extend our partnerships and alliances,  We are further investing in our emerging technology capabilities and have set out a clear ambition to be the market leader in supporting organisations with their digitally combined business transformation opportunities.  

In order to support our business aspirations, it’s important we have a diverse workforce. So, our apprenticeship programme strives to attract the best talent from diverse backgrounds and we have made changes in the way we recruit people to increase our diversity. We’ve recognised the opportunities for growth in FY18 and maintained our investment in our people, with over 300 promotions across all grades of our business despite tougher trading conditions.

All of this helps us to offer a hugely varied experience to our people. And our unique digitally-enabled combination of strategy, technology and management consulting expertise is allowing us to help our clients through the most complex transformation programmes.

Deals

The performance of our Deals business, despite external uncertainties, a decline in UK deal activity both pre and post the EU referendum and a static European deal market, demonstrates the strength and resilience of our practices.

Through our focus on assisting our clients in protecting and enhancing value, our Deals business continues to be at the heart of some of the most significant and complex transactions, investigations and restructurings both in the UK and globally. We leverage our industry knowledge and situational expertise, combined with execution capability, to help our clients succeed in a competitive environment. We empower our people to bring the full spectrum of PwC’s financial, operational and strategic capabilities to help our clients maximise value from execution through to implementation.Our transactions and investigations work in the past year includes the Logicor IPO, the Royal Mail’s cost transformation programme, supporting Rolls Royce in their response to the SFO’s bribery investigation and Micro Focus International's $8.8bn acquisition of HPE's software division.

Our Deals business is committed to, and remains highly active, in the wider community. For example, Steve Russell leads our charitable work with, and is a Trustee of, Charter Schools with assistance from many of our people to share financial knowledge and helping to mentor pupils. James Fillingham is the deputy chair of Youth Options to help improve the life opportunities of children and young people. We support Impetus-PEF through volunteer and pro bono specialist work to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their potential.

We have and will continue to invest in and expand the use of technology across our Deals business to allow us to provide richer insights to our clients. For example, we have invested in Brainspace, which enables us to use artificial intelligence technology in Forensic investigations, and in Seal technology, which uses machine learning to automate the review of large volumes of contractual documentation.

Our Deals business continues to be at the heart of some of the most significant and complex transactions, investigations and restructurings both in the UK and globally

Helping our clients solve some of the most intricate problems they face.

Tax

Our Tax practice is the largest in the UK, with clients ranging from multinational organisations and public sector bodies to entrepreneurs and family businesses. As well as business and personal taxation, we advise on pensions, wealth management, HR, employee mobility and reward and related legal services across all industries, from compliance to complex acquisitions. This diversity of skills and perspectives helps our clients solve some of the most intricate problems they face.

Digital innovation continued to be a primary focus for the tax practice in FY17. This year we completed a transaction through which we acquired  Data Ignition. This is a platform which continuously monitors end to end transactional data in multiple territories for clients, providing real time data visualisation and picking up on any errors in that data. This is a valuable addition to our tax risk management and reporting capability.

Through our Sandbox  programme we encourage our staff to incubate innovative and disruptive ideas, prototype and test them, working with digital entrepreneurs from smaller start up firms. This year, this tax initiative  became available to staff across our UK firm, and to clients to support them in innovation within their own businesses.

In October we fully integrated our Legal practice with our Tax teams, allowing us to offer our clients legal advice seamlessly combined with our other services, something that the market increasingly demands. Through strategic hires we’ve also  increased our offering in managed legal services - allowing clients to standardise and automate large volumes of recurring “business as usual” contracts.

The groundbreaking agreement we entered into with GE to provide integrated managed tax services globally, represents innovation of a different type. We hired 500 of GE's tax team members from around the world, around 50 of which are based in the UK. We also acquired​ the full suite​ of GE’s supporting tax technology​ tools which cover the full Tax lifecycle​. This creates a new delivery model for PwC, offering end-to-end solutions with an in-house feel. There has been a great deal of interest in this transaction in the market, and using the platform to provide managed tax services to clients.

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