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Global Annual Review 2021

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“Our clients come to PwC for innovative and imaginative solutions to help them meet the challenges they face and capitalise on the opportunities they have to build trust with - and deliver sustained outcomes for - their stakeholders.”

Kevin Burrowes

Kevin Burrowes

Global Clients & Industries Leader

Helping clients build trust and deliver sustained outcomes in turbulent times

Our clients face a once-in-a-generation context of change 

Organisations today must navigate and cope with pressures including climate change, technological disruption, geopolitical turmoil, social polarisation, fractured trust in institutions, rising environmental, social and governance (ESG) expectations, skills challenges and an ongoing pandemic. 

As they face these challenges, we are proud that more than 200,000 organisations – including 84% of the Fortune Global 500 – choose to be our clients. We are dedicated to helping them thrive in a rapidly-changing world, both managing its challenges and seizing its opportunities.

landscape image of skyscrapers in the evening

Our community of solvers builds trust and delivers sustained outcomes

To successfully address the issues they face, our clients must overcome two interlinked challenges.

First, they must build trust with a broad range of stakeholders. This is vital for them to maintain and enhance their reputation and relationships, access the capital markets, attract the right talent, grow their customer base, manage legal and regulatory risks, and respond to evolving ESG expectations. 

Second, our clients must deliver sustained outcomes while managing the huge transformations taking place in today’s world. To do this, they need new business and operating models. 

These challenges are unlike any we’ve experienced before. They require something more than the expected.

That’s why we’ve developed The New Equation, which unites 295,000 PwC people in a community of solvers. The huge array of capabilities across our global community gives us enormous problem-solving power. We draw on our distinctive blend of human expertise and advanced technologies to create and deliver innovative ideas that step out of the ordinary. 

Looking across our network, we combine the world’s largest assurance practice, the world’s leading tax and legal practice, the world’s most distributed forensics capability (rivalled only by national intelligence organisations), and much more. Our team includes former fighter pilots, doctors, surveyors, programmers, technologists, data-scientists, architects, lawyers, accountants and bankers, to name just a few. Together, the members of this diverse community have the imagination to see things from different perspectives.

We believe this vastly diverse range of human expertise - powered and enabled by technology - can solve just about any problem for our clients. We bring our unique thinking to every challenge, and develop solutions that lead the way. This helps us build trust and create sustained outcomes. It’s what sets PwC apart. 

In the rest of this section, we share some of the ways our community of solvers is helping clients build trust and achieve sustained outcomes in turbulent times.

Fighting COVID-19 shows what’s possible when our community of solvers unites

Delivering billions of COVID-19 vaccinations around the world – at speed – has been, and remains, a huge challenge. It’s one that our global community of solvers took up. Armed with detailed knowledge of the health value chain and enabled by technology, we assisted in delivering sustained outcomes when they were needed most.

Working in a complex and fast-changing environment, our cross-functional experts supported the design and operation of critical clinical trials, enabled the scale-up of vaccine manufacturing, and developed and implemented distribution strategies. Together, these efforts helped to get vaccines distributed to people across the globe.

We achieved this by combining technical expertise with robust management and oversight capabilities and deep experience in crisis management and pandemic response. Together, these capabilities meant we were ideally placed to advise and assist governments, ministries of health and national health systems around areas including strategy, design, implementation and reporting of vaccine coordination units, enabling them to meet the end-to-end needs associated with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Our experienced teams analysed data on the results of the vaccine rollout, gathering real-world evidence to create go-forward commercial strategies addressing demand. And we continue to support governments and corporations in assessing their readiness and preparing for a future in which the world must live with the virus.

Protecting business during a global pandemic

When the pandemic reached a western European country in 2020, the government urgently needed to issue loans to support businesses nationwide. We helped the government get a tech system live within two weeks - enabling the nation to securely deliver the largest economic assistance programme in its history.

Our commitment to build trust

We are committed to embedding trust-based principles into the core of today’s and tomorrow’s businesses – including by funding the new PwC Trust Leadership Institutes in the US and China

PwC US has committed a landmark three-year US$300 million investment in trust. The keystone of this effort is a first-of-its-kind C-suite educational experience called The PwC Trust Leadership Institute

The US firm created the institute to equip 10,000 business leaders with the skills to operate their companies in ways that earn trust, deliver sustainable outcomes and impact business and society. Through a multifaceted, immersive learning experience, leaders will deepen an understanding of the core elements of trust — and their interdependencies — within the evolving stakeholder landscape. Together with thought leaders and peers, they’ll explore how expectations of trust have evolved in the context of value chain, cyber security, data and technology, policy, ethical decision-making and other lenses.

The institute to be built in China will bring an immersive learning experience to life through both physical and virtual connectivity focusing on sustainability, digital innovation, wellness and mobility. It will become the creative hub to educate, advise and fulfil the changing needs of businesses, leaders, academics, and the next generation of talent. It will act as a trusted platform between our clients, the business community and society to create impactful outcomes for the new era.

Across the world, we work continually with clients on their compliance with tax and legal regulations, applying a rigorous Global Tax Code of Conduct. This enables clients to build trust with regulators and stakeholders by demonstrating clearly that they are meeting their complex and varied regulatory obligations.

We engage with clients to assess their tax and business strategies with reputation and trust in mind. And we encourage and assist them in creating greater transparency around their tax policies, including where and how much they pay. For example, we support numerous multinational clients in understanding their total tax contribution, enabling them to demonstrate their contribution to communities and governments. 

Tax policy is evolving rapidly in response to a shifting and fractured geopolitical landscape. For example, there are calls for green taxes, a global minimum corporate tax rate, and pressure to restore public balance sheets post-COVID. We are actively engaging with key players such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), advocating for collaboration, consistency and clarity in the debate and decision-making. And we apply our expertise to support policy outcomes that build trust in the tax and legal systems. For example, we are collaborating with the World Economic Forum on a report on carbon pricing that will inform discussions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.

Creating a seamless tax compliance service

Multinationals must manage a complex web of global tax regulations to maintain their reputation and public trust. We supported ZEISS, an international leader in optics technology, in managing its global tax compliance obligations effectively. More than 90% of ZEISS’s revenue comes from outside its home country of Germany, so a transparent, secure and seamless cross-border tax compliance service is crucial to the company’s success. We assisted ZEISS in creating a single web-based platform, offering a transparent, secure and seamless tax compliance service covering many of ZEISS’s obligations globally, including corporate income tax returns, tax accounting, and statutory financial statements in all its business units worldwide.

High-quality audits are critical to building trust and supporting companies’ continued success. That’s why we are investing an additional US$1 billion in technology to enhance audit quality. We are leaders in defining and building the future of audit, including applying AI to increase audit effectiveness and advocating for deeper audit insight into material risks. And we are calling for greater clarity and relevance in corporate reporting, and advocating for a culture of challenge. What’s more, we are looking to the future, innovating to continue to deliver trusted audits in a fast-moving world. For example, we offer audit and assurance services to clients holding or transacting in cryptocurrency

Non-financial reporting is increasingly expected of companies. This reporting can be important to maintain the trust and confidence of investors and capital markets, not least in industries like auto manufacturing which are facing dramatic transformation as the world strives to lower its carbon emissions.

For example, our audit and sustainability teams joined forces to help a global auto manufacturer deliver its first fully integrated report bringing together financial and non-financial data from its 160 entities in 50 countries. Feedback from investors and shareholders has been very positive. Investors appreciate the report’s demonstration that the company is transforming its strategy and execution for a low carbon world - which is key to the firm’s future viability. 

Similarly, we helped a global insurance company deliver rigorous reporting of its ESG KPIs. Trusted ESG metrics are important to the company’s attractiveness to current and potential employees, clients, and investors. In addition, rigorous metrics help the company to reliably chart its progress toward ESG objectives. 

Working with clients to build trust amid turbulence

Today, companies are facing rapid - and simultaneous - increases in public expectations, compliance requirements and risks to their reputation and operations. We have supported well-known tech companies in meeting changing societal expectations, navigating risk in moments of crisis, and shaping and meeting changing regulations. 

We help many clients respond with agility to shifting legal and societal expectations in order to build and maintain trust. For example, we worked with one of the largest global retailers to establish protocols and operating models to comply with new consumer privacy legislation.

Developing a winning strategy for 5G

We help clients realise the benefits while managing the challenges of new technologies. We are assisting a European government in growing its economy with a winning strategy to be an early adopter of 5G. Building and commercialising a 5G network is a complex undertaking. Cybersecurity must be stronger. Legacy networks must be managed. Public trust must be navigated. Taking these challenges into account, we delivered a detailed plan to roll out a robust, quality-assured, next-generation telecoms network by 2025. Thanks to this roadmap, the country’s government and key telecom players now have a shared direction, in turn giving its citizens greater confidence. Our analysis shows a successful 5G rollout could deliver economic growth across all sectors of the economy.

Helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The public, regulators, and investors are increasingly demanding that companies reduce their carbon footprint. This can be especially tricky for retail companies, which often produce emissions across complex supply chains. Another issue is that insufficiently robust action can be dismissed as greenwashing. We helped a major UK retail chain address these challenges with an ambitious roadmap for reducing its operational greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70% across its own operations and supply chain, with a three-year payback on its investment. This planned reduction in emissions will help the retailer to align to its peers and the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement.

Cyber assurance: building a secure digital society

We work with some of the world’s best-known companies to protect their reputations and relationships from cyberattacks. The strongest cybersecurity is holistic, so we manage all of these aspects and more:

  • understanding legal requirements

  • risk and regulation

  • training and culture change

  • managed services for ongoing threat monitoring and management

  • penetration testing simulating the latest techniques used by cyber threat actors

As a result, in the past year we’ve helped many clients build or repair trust by ensuring data security and business continuity.

Robust cybersecurity typically requires monitoring of millions of user actions and digital events. This task often presents a logistical challenge to threat-hunting teams, who must efficiently access and analyse a mass of data items distributed across many servers globally.

We’ve created a solution. Working with our partners, we’ve built Atlas, a global, resilient, high-throughput platform to collect and process varied forensic artefacts and enable analysts to hunt for threats at scale. Our bespoke Atlas capability supplies additional data from rich forensic artefacts to provide even greater insight.

Through our market-leading behavioural threat detection, we have identified threats ranging from the removal of customer data to the infiltration of web servers.

Working to tackle a cyberattack

When attacks come, we are ready. At 2am, the CEO of the SEUPB, which is currently responsible for half a billion euros of EU funding, received the text every leader dreads. Her organisation had been hacked by malicious cyberattackers. PwC moved quickly to help SEUPB staff identify threats, prioritise actions, communicate with stakeholders and restore safe operation. This included an entire server rebuild since nothing could be trusted. It took five weeks for the organisation to be fully operational again. But it came back stronger and is now currently preparing to implement a new €1.1bn EU funding programme called PEACE PLUS.

Bringing together the best technology thinking for our clients

The global business community is facing unprecedented challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, businesses are having to accelerate their digital business transformations like never before. One way that PwC helps deliver the right solutions for our clients - whether involving greater innovation, cloud or business transformation, operational efficiency or faster product and service speed to market - is by working, innovating and collaborating in alliance with some of the world’s leading technology companies like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft, AWS, Guidewire and others.

With our strategy, industry and engineering experience we help our clients weave technology throughout their businesses to drive growth and accelerate outcomes. Technology can be complicated. We help to simplify the process and maximise impact along our clients transformation journeys. In combination with our alliances we are bringing results for our clients today, while innovating for tomorrow.

Technicians using digital tablet in computer server room

We help clients navigate an evolving ESG environment

We work with our clients to transform their businesses, empowering them to thrive in a world of heightened ESG expectations and opportunities.

We are investing in Centres of Excellence to help clients reach their ESG goals. Supported by experts in carbon reduction, sustainable supply chain, and other domains, the Centres of Excellence will help clients to integrate ESG into their strategy, transform their businesses and reporting, and deliver trusted ESG performance. Internally, we have launched a global ESG Academy to actively upskill all of our worldwide staff on ESG strategy, transformation, and reporting.

We actively advocate for globally aligned ESG reporting standards to drive consistency and trust.

Our community of solvers has the broad range of skills required to meet complex ESG challenges. For example, when a client needed a way to meet its green energy targets, PwC Norway brought together a team that united our risk, consulting, tax and legal specialists with a Norwegian software developer. The team created a solution combining biofuel compliance and commercialisation with excise tax reporting in a single system.

We also bring clients the ability to use trusted ESG performance measurements. We supported one of the world’s largest pharma companies in launching one of its sector’s first ESG bonds. In order for the bond to be trusted by capital markets, we knew there needed to be rigorous measurement of whether the company consistently meets the promised ESG performance criteria. For example, how should a significant improvement in patient treatment access be defined and measured? We leveraged our experience with reporting standards, ESG metrics and the bond issuance process to provide insights and anticipate challenges early and throughout the process. In this way we helped the client to foresee potential challenges from third parties that could erode trust. Our work for this client and others is charting the way forward for ESG bonds and broader ESG reporting, shining a spotlight on consistency, trust and transparency.

We assist our clients in embedding ESG deep within their organisations through strategic reinvention and business transformation. We’ve created a systematic approach to the net-zero transition, and have scoped out practical steps clients can take, such as building ESG into executive remuneration.

Helping clients transform for a changing future

This year, we established a global programme called ‘Reinventing the Future’, designed to help clients make sense of disruptive forces affecting their business and define how bold leaders can think about tomorrow. As part of the programme, more than 1,200 PwC partners and industry leaders have been trained intensively on how to support clients in navigating fast-moving challenges, such as the digitisation of health services, decarbonisation of energy supplies, and the opportunities presented by AI. PwC leaders have also created a perspective series, Take on Tomorrow, sharing bold insights on issues like digital disruption, climate change, and workforce & skills.  

When sectors undergo rapid change, we work with clients to assist them in riding the wave of disruption and securing market-leading positions. For example, the means of mobility in the future will be autonomous, connected, and emissions-free. By applying our advanced tech skills in virtual product development and data-driven decision-making, we redesigned processes from strategy to operations to support a leading automaker to help create the transportation future.

As the world transitions towards an increasingly decarbonised economy, a major energy company - in the past a provider of petroleum products - has transformed to become a market leader for energy in a post-carbon era. We are working with the firm to embed net-zero considerations into its operating model, supply chain strategy, and growth markets. We assisted the company in laying the groundwork to drive decarbonisation across the energy industry, establishing a bold mission to help customers, supply chain partners and other stakeholders reduce their carbon footprints.

Making technology work better for people

We help design technology that can make the world work better for people - including 1.3 billion people with mobility or vision disabilities. AXS Map is a crowdsourcing platform powered by Google Maps, and backed by a web app. It enables users to rate the accessibility of locations like train stations, grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops. But many visitors quickly left the platform because it was difficult to use. Our digital team worked hand-in-hand with AXS Lab to apply human-centred design and make the platform easier to use, enabling it to expand rapidly and engage new audiences worldwide.

Supporting clients in building a future-fit workforce

Our clients need to manage deep changes in workforce management, ranging from digital disruption to evolving employee expectations. Our Hopes & Fears 2021 report shares some of the ways we help clients anticipate and navigate key trends affecting workforces today. 

Reimaging a talent experience on a global scale

We worked with Hyatt to re-imagine the entire talent experience for 120,000 Hyatt colleagues on six continents, with the goal of improving internal processes on a global scale to support strategic workforce planning and help to create a culture where colleagues can be their best selves every day. Our community of solvers came together to support Hyatt, including PwC professionals with subject matter experience in every aspect of HR programme design and management. We worked closely with Hyatt to design and implement a clear and compelling talent philosophy grounded in Hyatt’s purpose and values. This is enabling the company’s leaders to move the business forward through consistent, focused, yet flexible talent management, linked to systems, processes and procedures that support transparent and consistent standards across the organisation.

Our upskilling report produced in collaboration with the World Economic Forum reveals that half of employees worldwide will need reskilling by 2025. The report clearly shows the value of upskilling in building employee loyalty, increasing inclusiveness, and earning greater trust within society.

Innovating to solve important problems

Our Global Innovation Challenge recognises early-stage, technology-enabled PwC solutions that find new ways to solve important problems. In FY21, we saw record levels of interest from across PwC, receiving more than 470 entries involving almost 5,500 PwC people from 74 countries. 

This year, entrants are - among many other innovations - using AI to reduce bias in decision-making, applying machine learning to satellite imagery in order to automate fraud detection, and using virtual reality to transform diversity training. Nearly 30% of the eligible entries are already at the pilot stage, 26% are being launched, and 21% are looking to scale up. Find out more.

We are continuously innovating to bring new products to market that help clients solve problems and deliver sustained outcomes. For example, our space practice applies satellite data and AI to support sustainable farming. PwC's Insights from Space Smart Farming application sends AI-enabled analysis straight to farmers’ mobiles, enabling many farmers to reduce their use of chemical fertilisers by applying them in a more targeted way. Similar satellite data-driven solutions are now being proposed in a range of other sectors such as defence, retail, energy, insurance, and more.

Another groundbreaking innovation is PwC’s COVID-19 Simulator, which creates a 3D map of a space such as an office, and simulates how virus transmission could occur – and could best be prevented. The simulator works by modelling realistic human behaviour, for example taking account of the fact that people don’t always follow social distancing rules. So the simulator can assist society in reopening safely while increasing public trust in safety measures.

In total, we brought more than 110 innovative new ventures and products to the market this year.

A breakdown of our clients

Percentage of PwC clients in the Fortune Global 500 by industry

WEF IBC metrics report

As part of our commitment to transparency we are including an overview of our disclosures based on the WEF IBC Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics.

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Mike Davies

Mike Davies

Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC UK

Tel: +44 7803 974136


Contact us

Mike Davies

Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 7803 974136

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