Our purpose – ‘To build trust in society and solve important problems’ – is founded in our heritage of creating trust in the capital markets (by auditing financial accounts), and providing advice to help public, private and voluntary organisations be successful. Our aim is that while describing our work today, our purpose will also guide our decision-making and investment strategy for tomorrow, ensuring our ongoing relevance and leadership in the marketplace.
For example, today, the general public’s trust in many institutions is in decline. Yet, that trust is a vital ingredient of a functioning modern society. We feel we can play a valuable role in restoring trust in business and in society: for several years, we’ve been investing in both research to enhance the understanding of trust drivers and in new ‘trust services’ that can help restore and enhance the psychological contract between different stakeholders.
One example is our assurance services, through which we aim to increase the level of trust placed not just in company accounts but in all kinds of information, systems and processes. In the past two years, there’s been nothing short of a revolution in audit reporting, and we’re exploring how extended reporting requirement can provide additional of insight into the performance of companies, over and above the financial accounts. We’re also exploring new approaches to the measurement and assurance of non-financial information. And, we’re developing ways to use technology to provide completely new levels of assurance and insight over huge data sets.
In parallel, our clients face global and local challenges arising from increasing volatility and change in our world and society. We’ve identified five key, long-term ‘megatrends’ that are shaping the future world of our clients and our business: climate change and resource scarcity; demographic and social change; rapid urbanisation; a shift in global economic power; and technological advances.
We’re investing in solutions to these important problems, and the ‘collisions’ between them. We continue to build our Sustainability and Climate Change practice, advancing natural capital accounting and international development, for example, and providing insight about the business implications of significant developments such as the Road to Paris (COP 21) and the Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve also expanded the capabilities of our Technology teams in key areas of cyber security, data analytics and digital business and have run a sustained campaign on the digital revolution (worldinbeta.com).
Moving forward, our purpose will continue to influence our interactions with our stakeholders, permeating our business strategy and investment choices. It will ensure our ongoing relevance as a pioneer, shaping the debate and driving change for positive economic, social and environmental impact.
Chief Sustainability Officer, PwC United Kingdom