Against a backdrop of uncertainty, I’ve continued to be incredibly impressed by the resilience and focus of our people as they’ve navigated the challenges of the last year. From high profile assignments - such as working on the vaccine roll-out to delivering during a difficult and compressed audit busy season, and working on complex consulting projects and deals - our teams have ensured that our business has seen good growth for the year as a whole.
It has been a year of two parts.
Through the summer we, like all businesses, faced significant economic disruption and huge uncertainty about how the pandemic would play out. Then, by the later stages of the financial year, greater clarity emerged, and with that, a ramping up of client demand.
This demand across all parts of our business has driven growth and a strong financial performance enabling us to continue to invest.
The theme of this year’s report - Investing for the future - recognises that the UK is at a turning point. We are fortunate that we are able to invest at a time when a new set of opportunities arises as the tide is turning against the pandemic and following Britain’s departure from the EU.
I believe that reducing social economic inequality across the country, addressing the climate crisis and harnessing tech innovation will define the next chapter of our business. These issues very much talk to our purpose, which is to build trust and solve important problems to make a societal difference.
We plan to invest £1.2bn over the next five years on a number of ambitious programmes to create jobs, increase skills and deliver wider benefits to the UK economy.
In a post pandemic world the challenges we all face cannot be solved by one part of society. It requires collaboration. Recognising this, we plan to build partnerships with Universities, Government and other stakeholders across the UK. For example, we’ve already committed to spending £40 million on an advanced research and engineering centre at our office in Belfast, which will create 800 new jobs in the city.
Our investments, which are aligned with PwC’s global strategy, The New Equation, are having a profound effect on how we work as a firm. PwC took a position, both as an employer of 22,000 people and through its work with clients to prepare for shifts in working patterns. We’re deeply aware of our responsibility to ensure equal access to quality employment, our commitment to net zero by changing how we operate, using technology to help our people work smarter, and continued investment across our UK offices.
As part of this, following consultation with our people we launched the Deal. A workforce framework to embed hybrid working giving our people more flexibility than ever before. It covers everything from learning and development to how our people can make a positive societal difference. It’s built on two-way flexibility and trust.
Our sector as a whole has also been undergoing change. Working with Government and regulators we have reiterated our commitment to quality in everything we do.
While every business has faced its own challenges over the past year - and have dealt with the impact of change - I’m proud of how we’ve held our nerve and set the course for a positive year ahead.
Professional services has continued to be a success story of the UK economy as both an economic contributor and as a source of skilled and talented individuals. As the number one social mobility employer we recognise the impact we can have on reducing social economic inequality. Given its significance, It is vital that the sector takes the lead in investing in this new period of economic recovery.
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Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom