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Financial Report

Global Annual Review 2021

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“Our financial performance in FY21 was solid, with growth in revenues across the world of 2%. This performance was driven by clients’ ongoing need for assurance services and increasing demand for deals and restructuring work. We invested $2.6bn in our people and our operations throughout the year, and as a result believe all of our businesses are well positioned to take account of the economic resurgence in the year ahead - powered by our strategy, The New Equation.”

Dana McIlwain

Dana McIlwain

Chief Administrative Officer

Providing information on revenues, net income, taxation and investments

Basis of preparation

As detailed in the Governance section of this review, each member firm of the PwC network is owned and controlled by its partners, and is independent of other firms in the PwC network. We therefore cannot present consolidated financial information as envisaged by generally accepted accounting standards. Accordingly, the information that is presented below is aggregated from each member firm. 

Gross revenue is recorded as earned on client projects. This involves a degree of estimation, considering for example the stage of completion of individual projects. Gross revenues also include disbursements incurred exclusively on behalf of clients.

Expenses are recognised as incurred, with accruals made for unpaid amounts at the year end. These expenses include for example property, administrative and employment expenses. Expenses do not include any payments to partners.

Revenue less expenses is a non-GAAP measure which we call “net income”. This is not the net profit before tax which you may see reported by a corporation, because in some situations partnership agreements specify that certain expenses are for the account of the individual partners and not for the member firm. An example is unfunded payments to retired partners. Such amounts are not included in expenses and are therefore excluded from net income. However, we believe this non-GAAP measure is useful in assessing the performance of the network consistently over time.

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Our performance

Revenue

For the 12 months ending 30 June 2021, PwC firms around the world had gross revenues of US$45 billion (FY20 $43 billion) – up 2.0% in local currency and 4.9% in US dollars. This was a solid result given the challenges faced by the global economy during the year.  

As a result of the pandemic and the largely remote nature of the work undertaken during FY21, disbursements and expenses recharged to clients were down 34.0% on the prior year.

For the first nine months of FY21 revenues were flat. But as we neared the end of the year demand picked up, with revenues in the April to June period up by 18.1% compared to the same period in FY20. While some of this growth is due to a very difficult April-June in FY20, it also reflects an increase in clients’ need for services in areas such as deals and restructuring. As economies around the world began to open up, we worked across the PwC network to bring together teams of diverse experts enabled by the right technologies to provide clients with innovative and imaginative solutions, and designed new products and services to meet and anticipate their changing needs. 

Across our network, PwC is focused on delivering high quality services and products to our clients to help them build trust and deliver sustained outcomes, as they deal with the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world. The regional growth numbers for the full year FY21 reflect the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent economic slowdowns. However, as the year progressed, growth returned across all major regions and countries.

  • Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) revenues were up by 2.0%. In the UK, revenues rose by 2.0%, in the Middle East, they increased by 4.8%, and in Turkey revenues grew very strongly up by 30.0%. Across Africa our business was particularly impacted by the pandemic with revenues falling by 3.6% compared to the prior year.
  • Asia Pacific revenues grew by 6.2% with a strong performance from South Korea, which posted a year-on-year revenue increase of 12.3%. After a challenging FY20 during which it saw revenues shrink by 1.2%, PwC Australia returned to growth in FY21 with revenues up by 2.4%.
  • Americas revenues were flat, reflecting the significant downturn in disbursements and expenses recharged to clients, which particularly impacted PwC US where revenues were static year on year, and some challenging economic conditions, especially across Central and South America. Revenues were more buoyant at PwC Canada where they rose by 5.1%.

Reset total
Aggregated revenues of PwC firms by geographic region (US$ millions)
  FY21 at FY21 ex. rates FY20 at FY20 ex. rates % change % change at constant exchange rates
Americas 18,309 18,285 0.1 0.1
Asia Pacific 8,862 8,104 9.4 6.2
EMEA 17,971 16,643 8.0 2.0
Gross Revenues 45,142 43,032 4.9 2.0

% change at constant exchange rates reflects local currency growth without the impact of US dollar exchange rates.

Each of our lines of businesses - Assurance, Advisory, and Tax and Legal - grew and developed in FY21. 

Assurance: Revenues from our assurance operations grew modestly by 1.2% to US$17.1billion (FY20: US$16.4 billion). Audit remains the cornerstone of our brand and the key driver for growth in our Assurance business. Given the central role audit plays in maintaining trust in the capital markets and the increasing financial challenges our clients faced over the year, our audit business retained its strong market position. We continue to manage other market forces such as auditor rotation and increasing competition, and we project continued steady growth for our audit operations in the years ahead. We are also seeing increasing demand for our assurance services regarding non-financial information such as ESG disclosures and expect significant growth in these areas in the future.

Over the course of the year we saw a return to growth in risk services. In particular, organisations recognised the need for professional services to help manage risks exposed by COVID-19 and build on the increased momentum of digital transformation triggered by the pandemic. We also saw strong demand for our technology risk and transparency services, with organisations increasingly seeking external assurance over areas such as third-party relationships, sustainability-related disclosures and cybersecurity frameworks.

Advisory: Revenues grew by 3.1% to US$17 billion (FY20: US$16 billion). This growth was driven by functional and enterprise-wide transformation, where clients needed to access a broad set of capabilities from strategy-through-execution. Accelerated by COVID-19, we experienced particularly strong demand for technology-enabled business transformation (finance, front office, human resources, supply chain) and cloud-driven digital transformation as clients sought to build resilience into their organisations. Increased deal activity beginning in the second quarter of the year drove additional opportunities focused on value creation and preservation, with clients seeking to maximise value from their transactions and any consequent restructuring. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the inability to travel, our advisory businesses across the world were able to bring together a wide range of capabilities for clients in virtual ways, helping them create value and build sustained outcomes for their stakeholders.

Tax & Legal Services: In FY21 revenues from our tax, legal and people operations grew by 1.7% to US$11 billion (FY20: US$10.6 billion), against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and challenging environment, driven by various factors including the impact of the pandemic and local and global tax policy changes. 

As governments and businesses continue to negotiate the challenges of the pandemic and the resulting significant increases in country deficits, we are seeing growing demand for the PwC Tax & Legal network to help clients navigate an increasingly complex tax landscape. Demand in FY21 was particularly high for Tax deals services and People & Organisation services, where we experienced an increasing need for transformation services as businesses reimagine their supply chains, operating models and workforce of the future. While we saw steady demand for Tax Reporting and Strategy services - principally around compliance and managed services, in light of the challenges many businesses faced in meeting their reporting obligations remotely throughout the pandemic - the changing tax landscape has also boosted clients’ need for integrated compliance services. 

Reset total
Aggregated revenues of PwC firms by service line (US$ millions)
  FY21 at FY21 ex. rates FY20 at FY20 ex. rates % change % change at constant exchange rates
Assurance 17,073 16,389 4.2 1.2
Advisory 17,029 16,092 5.8 3.1
Tax & Legal 11,040 10,551 4.6 1.7
Gross Revenues 45,142 43,032 4.9 2.0
Expenses and disbursements on client assignments (1,546) (2,268) -31.8 -34.0
Net revenues 43,596 40,764 6.9 4.0

% change at constant exchange rates reflects local currency growth without the impact of US dollar exchange rates.

FY21 revenues are the aggregated revenues of all PwC firms and are expressed in US dollars at average FY21 exchange rates. FY20 aggregated revenues are shown at average FY20 exchange rates. Gross revenues are inclusive of expenses billed to clients. FY20 figures have been restated to reflect current business structures in operation in FY21. As a result of this restatement, around US$1.4 billion of revenues previously reported in FY20 as part of Assurance and Tax are now reported under Advisory.

Investments

Investments are made by individual partnerships, or may be made by groups of partnerships collaborating together. These investments cover technology development, hiring of new partners and staff, the training of employees and acquisitions.

Unlike companies, partnerships generally can make investments only from current year income, or from bank borrowings secured on future income. Therefore most investments are charged to the income statement in the period in which they occurred as an expense. The treatment of acquisitions is dependent upon the individual partnership and acquisition, and varies from holding the asset in the balance sheet to charging the costs of the acquisition to the income statement over a period ranging from one to 10 years.

Despite the heightened economic challenges of the past year, PwC has continued to prioritise ongoing investments in the future of our people, new technologies, the quality of our work, and new products and services. Across the PwC network, we invested over US$2.6bn during FY21 following on from investments of more than US$3bn in FY20. This investment occurred despite a more cautious approach to overall spending and a smaller number of new partner admissions.

As part of our investment programme in FY21, PwC firms completed nine acquisitions (FY20: 3) and five strategic investments (FY20: 4) around the world - expanding our professional capabilities in key areas such as data analytics, tax technology and strategy consulting.  

Net income

Early in FY21, the prevailing uncertainty saw member firms take aggressive action to manage their cost base in order to ensure we could continue to protect as many jobs as possible. As a result of many PwC offices being closed, a reduction in travel and lower entertaining costs, the overall cost base was significantly lower than in the prior year. This was the case even after higher staff costs were taken into account, reflecting one-off payments made by member firms in many territories to thank their staff for their contribution and to assist them with remote working arrangements.

As a consequence of revenue modestly growing and expenses reducing, net income increased 19.2% over FY20 (FY20: increased 0.3% over FY19).

  • FY21
  • FY20

Taxation

Income taxes

A characteristic of partnerships is that payment of the taxes on the income produced in the partnership is an obligation of the individual equity partners at the marginal rates relevant to their total incomes, which consist of their PwC distributions plus any other sources of income such as investment income. In most cases the partnership does not collect this information and it is therefore not possible to estimate with sufficient accuracy taxes paid on the earnings of each partnership. However, each member firm has strict requirements for its partners not to enter into aggressive tax planning. As a result of this specific characteristic of partnerships, whereby the payment of taxes falls to individual equity partners, partnerships in many jurisdictions do not have an obligation to pay corporate taxes.  

Some of our partnerships have attempted to calculate the effective rate of tax that their partners are paying on the income that they earn and have disclosed this information in their own markets. An example is our Australian firm, which has estimated the average rate of tax paid by its partners on the firm’s income to be 42% for FY21.

Other taxes

Each partnership pays a range of taxes including employment taxes. We estimate that the total of employment taxes paid by our largest 21 firms across the network is US$1.6 billion. 

Our member firms also pay a range of other taxes, such as property taxes, or unrecoverable sales taxes. It is our intention to provide more information on these amounts in future years. 

Balance sheet

Each partnership has its own assets and liabilities on its balance sheet. These balance sheets are supported by capital which is contributed by individual partners. Equity partners may be required to contribute extra capital based on changes in their responsibilities, or because a partnership requires additional capital to support anticipated organic and inorganic growth in the future.

Assets are predominantly related to working capital (debtors and cash), technology and the fixed assets associated with our offices.

Adequate banking facilities are maintained by each partnership both to manage working capital and provide protection against eventualities that may be reasonably expected to come about. In early FY21 many member firms negotiated additional banking facilities in light of the uncertainty associated with COVID-19. In most cases, the member firms did not require these facilities and net indebtedness is lower than at the end of FY20.

Payments from governments

With regard to our 21 largest firms, which are responsible for the generation of over 90% of our revenues, and with the exception of reliefs that are enacted with general applicability, no PwC firm was in receipt of any significant or material payments from governments in FY21.  

With regard to specific payments or reliefs connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, again with the exception of blanket reliefs given to all businesses, none of our largest 21 firms were in receipt of any material payment from governments. Only one of our largest 21 firms took part in a government scheme to furlough staff in FY21, and even then for only a very small number of staff.

In future years we will collect and report information on payments from governments from all PwC member firms.

Outlook

Economic growth is expected to rebound strongly in our largest markets in FY22, creating a positive environment for professional services. 

Globally our economists expect growth to remain strong through 2021. We project that global real GDP will increase by around 6.1% by the year end in market exchange rates, in stark comparison with the economic turmoil of 2020, when global real GDP contracted by more than 3%. While we think economic growth will moderate in 2022, it will remain relatively strong, with our main scenario projections estimating real GDP growth of around 4.3% in 2022.

The pandemic has left organisations with an acute need to repair, rebuild and reshape their businesses for the future. Our strategy - The New Equation - which is focused on helping build trust and deliver sustained outcomes, and brings our capabilities together in a single community of 295,000 solvers, is designed to support clients as they do this.

Based on our experience up to the end of September 2021, we expect our revenue growth in FY22 to outstrip FY21 as demand for deals and restructuring services remains strong and companies look to build for the future. We are also seeing increasing demand for our risk-related services and our broader assurance work, as companies look to quantify and report on not just their financial performance but also their broader impacts on the planet and society.

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

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Mike Davies

Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 7803 974136

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