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Our greatest impact on the world is through the advice and services we provide to our clients. We believe a well-functioning, competitive economy is the most powerful generator of social progress ever created – and that helping our clients succeed is a positive contribution to achieving it.
Even before COVID-19, success increasingly meant companies understanding and reflecting the priorities of a broader group of stakeholders than just investors – from employees and customers to NGOs and governments. This is a central part of our work, all the way from strategy to execution and reporting.
Our scale – we serve 200,000 clients across the world, including more than 100,000 entrepreneurial and private businesses – means we can have a significant impact on the global economy. Our clients range from leading multinational companies to small start-ups, and from family businesses and private individuals to governments and non-governmental organisations. And they’re located in nearly every country in the world.
As the COVID-19 crisis took hold, our work supporting organisations became even more important.
Trust is crucial in times of great turbulence. For us, this need has driven a focus on finding ways to deliver audit and assurance services effectively in unprecedented circumstances. Investments in technology and skills made over several years have enabled us to deliver high-quality audit and assurance services even in the context of social distancing. We have also engaged with regulators to facilitate transparency and alignment about any methodological or other changes deemed necessary in the COVID-19 context.
On the advisory side, we supported our clients in multiple ways – including helping to develop and roll out remote strategies to hire and mobilise teams, cash flow forecasting, business continuity scenario planning, rethinking their operating models for the future and much more. You can see some examples of how we have supported clients here.
Tax, trade and regulatory compliance have also become increasingly important issues in the context of COVID-19, as governments responded with significant packages of short-term measures to support individuals, businesses and economies, and began to think about how to fund significant additional expenditures. Our tax, legal and people businesses have focused on understanding changes in each territory and supporting clients in the short-term as they Navigate Tax, Legal and Economic Measures in response to COVID-19, as well as on continuing to support clients as they navigate ongoing complexity and risk in a rapidly evolving world.
To help clients structure their thinking about how to navigate COVID-19 we developed a framework for analysis and action. In May we published an article laying out an approach that recognises the need to simultaneously make immediate changes that enable business continuity and plan for transformation in the context of accelerated societal change. The ‘5Rs’ framework (repair, rethink, reconfigure, restart, report) provides a simple, structured way to think about how to respond to these needs. It puts front and centre the way COVID-19 interacts with changes that were already under way in the operating environment – from the rise of digital platforms to disruptions in geopolitics to the challenge of climate change. You can read the full article laying out the framework here.
As we engage with our clients on navigating a complex and fast-changing world, there are six key questions they are asking. These look beyond the immediate challenges of COVID-19 and address deep trends in the way society and the economy function, driven by the forces outlined in the ADAPT framework. The questions are:
How do I transform so I can succeed in the future?
How do I build my workforce for the future?
How do I optimise value creation and sources of funding in my business?
How do I build a sustainable business and meet rapidly changing societal expectations?
How do I optimise risk and stay compliant with rules, regulation, and manage reputation in an increasingly complex and conflicted world?
How do I engage with and report on progress to my stakeholders?
Across the network we have a broad and deep range of capabilities and methodologies to address each of these questions. We collaborate across the network to help provide clients with the best possible advisory and execution services, from strategy all the way to execution. This approach allows us to bring together the benefits of deep expertise that comes from specialisation with the benefits of a holistic insight that comes from a breadth of perspective. But we know that there will be new capabilities critical to clients’ success in the future, such as skills in environmental issues, and we are investing to build these capabilities at scale.
The need for business leaders to fundamentally rethink the way they plan, invest and operate in the future is underlined in our survey of almost 700 global CEOs. The findings show that digital infrastructure, flexible working and employee wellbeing will top their boardroom agendas as they reconfigure business operations to secure growth in the next 12 months and beyond. Ensuring supply chain safety and resilience will also remain a focus.
One of the ways we create value for our clients is by driving innovation across our network and developing new products and services. In FY20, we brought over 50 innovative new ventures and products to the market.
We're focused on creating an environment that encourages our people to come up with new, creative solutions to augment and amplify our traditional services. Our Global Innovation Challenge, which uncovers early stage technology-enabled solutions created by our people that solve problems for our clients and society, plays an important role in identifying commercially-viable solutions to new and emerging business issues. In FY20, we saw record levels of interest across the network with over 350 entrants involving almost 5,000 PwC people from 48 countries. Nearly a third of the entries are already at pilot stage, with 20% being launched, and 11% looking to scale up. Find out more.
Our people are using their skills to innovate and offer our intellectual property in the form of products. Today, we license more than 100 products throughout the network, including PwC’s Check-In app, which clients use to help make their people feel safer in the workplace and more connected while working remotely. Other examples include PwC’s IFRS17 Software which fully automates the IFRS17 reporting process, and PwC’s Digital Maker which simplifies workflow and allows clients to automate data migration.
We also rolled out Workbench, allowing our people to access Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI and advanced data analytic tools. Over 42,000 PwC people have become active users of the platform, running more than 750,000 automations every week. Our teams are also helping clients save time by creating automations to streamline data processing and functions for tax calculations, M&A synergies, regulatory reporting and more.
PwC is deeply involved in the innovation ecosystem. We work with corporate innovation teams throughout the world, and venture capitalists from Silicon Valley to Shanghai as they build their businesses of tomorrow. As of August 2020 we were working with nearly 300 ‘Unicorns’ (privately held startups worth over US$1 billion) as defined by CB Insights.
A breakdown of PwC’s total revenues in the past year shows that 75% came from clients served by multiple PwC firms (FY19: 73%), with the remainder coming from clients served by one firm, including governments and their agencies.
Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 7803 974136