Record recruitment and Merchant Square investment sees Northern Ireland named fastest- growing PwC region for second year in a row

PwC NI is the firm’s fastest-growing UK region for a second year in a row with both recruitment and investment in its new office Merchant Square hitting record levels, according to PwC’s Annual Report 2019.

In its Annual Report 2019 PwC’s Belfast office is shown to have increased its workforce by over 80% (82.6%) from 2016 leading to the firm’s decision to make one of its largest ever investments in regional offices, with the planned move to the 200,000 sq m, £70m development in the city centre in early 2021.

Already the largest office outside London with around 2,300 people (up from 1,259 in June 2016), Merchant Square will support increased recruitment to around 2,800. Much of the growth has been driven by the Operate division, the operational delivery service, which has helped to deliver £100m revenue in the past year.

Nationally the UK firm has delivered unparalleled investment in the regions, creating larger offices in strategic sites and driving the number of people working outside London to 44% (10,200), up from 35% (7,885) in June 2016.

The report – ‘Building a Digital Future’ - shows that PwC UK experienced higher than expected growth over its financial year as clients seek help tackling uncertainty, risk and the need to transform. Revenue for the year ended 30 June 2019 by 12% to £4.23 billion. In the year ahead, the firm has announced plans for a £140m investment in people, quality, training, technology and upskilling.

Paul Terrington, PwC NI Chairman and Head of UK Regions, commented:

“We’ve seen exceptional growth in Northern Ireland and the move to Merchant Square is a catalyst for us to transform how we work for our clients in a new, technology-enabled way. Against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, the board’s decision to invest here underlines its confidence in Northern Ireland as a place to do business, attract talent and build for the future.

“We experienced high demand for our core services and, in particular, for technology-related solutions. Operate is a significant asset for us and validates the firm’s continual challenge to improve on its offering for clients who seek our support to transform their business. By combining industry knowledge, technology solutions and human insight – under our Intelligent Digital approach – we’re delivering greater efficiency and value.

“We have a distinct position in the local market as the firm’s global hub for technology, digital advisory services and research. Clients of all shapes and sizes, from start-ups, family businesses and international firms have unrivalled access to the latest tech, unique insight and dedicated support – something which will be amplified in Merchant Square - designed to be the most accessible PwC office in the UK.”

A key priority for the firm is increasing opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to join the firm. 111 people joined the first year of its Technology Degree Apprenticeship at five UK universities including 20 at Queen’s University, Belfast. This year 300 new students will join the fully funded course. The NI firm also launched an MSc in Professional Services Operational Delivery with Ulster University for people on the Operate team, the first such qualification in the UK.

Paul Terrington added:

“With a highly competitive external market and significant changes facing our people, we are creating a culture that engages and empowers them to grow their skills and confidence to achieve career success. Over the year, we increased training and development, delivered record staff bonuses and gave our people an additional day’s holiday.  We were pleased that despite uncertainty in the market, our people engagement score increased by four percentage points to 75% in our last staff survey.

PwC UK Senior Partner and Chairman Kevin Ellis commented:

“PwC continues to make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Professional and business services account for 11% of the UK economy and are the country’s largest export sector. Maintaining this position for the UK and our business is critical.  However, businesses must also prove they can deliver more than just good economic returns, which is why I am proud of the continued investment our business is making to address the UK’s skills gap and in helping equip organisations and society for the fourth industrial revolution. 

“All of our businesses grew as we responded to market demands and supported clients with their challenges. We remain optimistic about the UK post-Brexit and are keen to play our role in ensuring people from a diverse range of backgrounds can contribute to the UK’s success. 

“Clearly, there are risks associated with the UK’s planned exit from the EU. Significant work has gone into ensuring we have the necessary resilience in our own business and the right expertise to support our clients. We are committed to creating quality jobs across the UK and working with corporate Britain, government and education providers to ensure we’re building a digital future across the UK.”

2019 Financial highlights:
  • Revenue by business division:

Business area

2019 revenue

Growth v 2018

2018 revenue


















  • Profit was £1,016m (up from £935m in 2018) and the average distributable profit per partner before tax was £765,000 (up from £712,000 in 2018).

  • The firm’s total tax contribution was £1,265m (up from £1,182m in 2018) and consisted of £760m in taxes collected and £505m in taxes borne.

  • The effective UK tax rate for partners was 48% (2018: 48%).

2019 Non-Financial highlights
  • More than 4,000 new people joined the firm in the UK including 1,345 graduates and school leavers, and 2,718 experienced hires

  • 111 Tech degree apprenticeships fully funded at the Universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Queen’s in Belfast and St Andrew’s. This will rise to 300 new students this year.

  • Additional £30m per year audit quality improvement programme unveiled including the recruitment of an additional 500 experienced auditors

  • New office opened in Bradford, new Frontier technology labs opened in London and Reading,  and Belfast is now our second largest UK office with 2,300 people

  • The number of businesses signing up to our Tech She Can charter has doubled to 128, helping ensure more young women pursue technology careers

  • Our people volunteered more than 83,000 working hours benefitting 33,000 communities across the UK.

Contact us

General Enquiries

Northern Ireland, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)289 024 5454

Experienced Careers

Northern Ireland, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)289 024 5454

Follow us: