13 Mar

PwC announces alliance and investment with Codebase

PwC has announced an alliance with CodeBase, Europe’s largest incubator, to help accelerate its growth in a move that reinforces the professional services firm’s commitment to startup and scale-up technology companies in Scotland.

More than quadrupling in size since its March 2014 launch, CodeBase in Edinburgh is home to over 90 startups – including Administrate, QikServe, TVSquared and Care Sourcer – which employ more than 600 people.  A Stirling incubator was announced earlier this month.

CodeBase’s mission is to build and scale the next great tech companies out of Scotland and it has helped to incubate scale-up companies which have raised over half a billion dollars of investment since its 2014 launch by co-founders Jamie and Stephen Coleman and others.

The alignment will see PwC offer business support concentrating on a number of tailored services focussed around its My Financepartner offering which offers a low-cost subscription service providing business advisory services.

The My Financepartner suite includes cloud-based accounting software, state of the art management information reporting, payroll and traditional accounting and tax services in an easy to access format that fast growth businesses demand.

At PwC, the deal was pulled together by the My Financepartner team and head of innovation for Scotland, Douglas Shand..

Douglas Shand said:

I’ve been involved with a lot of startups and scale-ups and very often they are companies which initially struggle to justify the cost and complexity of a traditional back office function. Reflecting that, My Financepartner lets them pick and choose the services they may want to use and pay for them as needed on a subscription payment model.
Some of the work coming out of Codebase is cutting edge stuff. It’s fantastic to see the passion and enthusiasm for what’s being created. Stephen and Jamie did a fantastic thing when they set this up and it’s exciting to be involved with it as it goes to the next level from Edinburgh to Stirling and elsewhere.
As part of the agreement, PwC will take up a presence at Codebase, with the team led by newly-appointed My Financepartner leader for scotland Ian Marshall.

Stephen Coleman, CEO and co-founder of CodeBase, said:

The partnership with PwC allows us to both accelerate development at Argyle House on our journey to build a tech powerhouse in Edinburgh and for our companies to tap into the firm’s global expertise and networks

Lindsay Gardiner, PwC regional chair said:

Professional services is changing and PwC in Scotland has attempted to be at the forefront of that change where it makes sense for our clients and the Scottish economy. We were one of the first to recognise the growing importance of cybersecurity and now we have the largest team in Scotland. Additionally, our digital forensics team is one of the strongest and most robust in the country
This deal and the development of My Financepartner also reflect these exciting, changing times. Startups and scale-ups don’t want or need a traditional financial advice service so we’ve adapted to that. My Financepartner lets the companies take care of the majority of their own accounting and business requirements but with the back-up and pro-active support of our experts if and when they need to talk to them.
Many say it’s about wanting to be – or looking for – the next Skyscanner, but to me that misses the point. Yes, it’s fantastic that Scotland can produce unicorns and we hope there are many more of them. Private businesses are the lifeblood of Scotland and the advice companies get at Codebase is set to help them be amongst the next generation of fast growth and big success firms. Being able to help all of these companies to that level will be a fantastic achievement.
These companies – and CodeBase itself – are making a positive difference not only to Scotland but to people across the globe and it’s exciting to be part of that.
24 May

Audit quality review reports published by FRC

Reports on audit quality reviews of the six largest audit firms have been published today by the FRC.The reports set out the principal findings arising from the 2015/16 reviews of BDO, Deloitte, EY, Grant Thornton, KPMG and PwC.

The FRC has responded to feedback, from audit committee chairs and others, as to how the content of its reports on individual firms could be further developed to provide more useful information. The reports focus on the key findings of our reviews, why they matter and the actions the firms are taking to address them. The key findings reported cover matters arising from the FRC’s reviews of both individual audits and each firm’s policies and procedures to support and promote audit quality, with the balance of findings in these two areas differing significantly between the six firms.

The reports also set out some examples of good practice identified at each firm that contributed to audit quality.

Melanie McLaren, FRC’s Executive Director for Audit, said:

This year’s reports on our reviews of individual audit firms reflect the FRC’s focus on promoting continuous improvement in audit quality. For the first time, we asked the firms to carry out a root cause analysis into each of our key findings before developing proposed actions and discussing these with us. The firms responded positively to this request and engaged in a constructive dialogue with us on the outcome of their work and how this had informed the actions they intend to take. We are pleased that the firms have recognised the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to audit quality. We will be reviewing the implementation of firms’ actions and the extent to which they are effective in practice in enhancing audit quality

Later in 2016 the FRC intends to issue, in view of its forthcoming role as the UK’s competent authority for audit, its first report monitoring and assessing developments in UK audit quality encompassing developments in standards and policy, professional oversight, audit quality review and enforcement.

15 Mar

ICAEW and PwC launch new public sector accounting learning programme

ICAEW and PwC have launched their IPSAS Certificate, which provides a high quality, flexible and accessible certified learning programme for public sector accountants.
   
The ICAEW IPSAS Certificate, jointly developed in collaboration with PwC, provides accountants with a content-rich e-learning certified programme for all stages of the implementation process and beyond. The programme, now live, is open to anyone who works in the sector and wants to enhance their skills.
 
Ross Campbell, ICAEW Public Sector Director said:

ICAEWThe aim of the programme is to help public sector accountants manage finances as effectively as possible. There are no entry requirements, and the programme is easily accessible to those who need it. Moreover, the flexible, interactive online learning can be fitted around existing commitments, and the online assessment offers immediate results

 
The programme follows a hands-on-approach, from principles to practice, with technical guidance, practical examples, practice questions and revision aids. On successful completion of the assessment, the participant will receive a certificate which will indicate either a pass or a distinction depending on the score.
 
Patrice Schumesch, PwC Global IPSAS Partner, said:

PwC_logoAn increasing number of governments and other public sector entities are implementing IPSAS as part of their wider public finance management reform. Training of staff is often a major challenge for them. Our programme helps them deliver consistent quality across the organisation and achieve their learning objectives

20 Jan

PwC in acquisition with specialised cloud-based solutions across the UK and Europe

PwC_logoPwC has announced that it has conditionally agreed to acquire a leading European technology consulting business, Outbox Group, bolstering its ability to offer specialised cloud-based solutions and transformational services for clients across the UK and Europe.

The Polish-based Outbox specialises in customer, digital and technology services working with leading platforms such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle and SAP. Its addition will further enhance PwC’s cross-industry customer and digital capabilities to deliver innovative solutions across all channels, platforms and devices.

The deal comes after previous acquisitions by PwC, including the European consultancy Mokum, and Booz & Company (now Strategy&), in 2014. The addition of Outbox Group will increase the firm’s contingent of technology practitioners to almost 3,000 across EMEA. More than 250 Outbox employees will join PwC.

PwC’s UK and EMEA consulting leader, Ashley Unwin, said: 

This acquisition represents a major milestone for PwC’s UK and Central and Eastern Europe alliance and its commitment to invest in emerging markets. It is also a significant addition to our customer and digital capabilities and sees the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for these skills within PwC in Europe.

PwC’s UK and EMEA technology consulting leader, Jonathan Tate, commented: 

Our clients are prioritising growth and investing to deliver great experiences to their customers. This acquisition was driven by a rising demand from our clients in digital and customer transformation as well as the need to offer services from strategy through to execution.

Outbox will allow us to present a truly differentiated offering, enabling us to deliver larger and more transformational solutions to businesses across the UK, Poland and the rest Europe. It will also support one of the firm’s strategic priorities to further embed technology into its services.

Outbox managing director, Nicholas Mobbs, who will join PwC as a partner said: 

We created Outbox 10 years ago in Poland. Through dedication and hard work we have tapped into the wave of disruptive technological change, leading to considerable success across Europe with our unique position around a customer first multi-technology strategy. This deal will provide PwC with the ability to offer a unique combination of world class skills and services, by delivering true cloud-based business transformation projects to the market and benefitting existing clients. The potential market for customer experience, CRM and digital is estimated at over 6 billion euros and we see this growing even in challenging economic times

The deal was signed on 31 December and is expected to be formally completed next month.

25 Nov

Under Pressure? – PwC Survey Reveals “The Power of Pricing”

Organisations are forced to reappraise how they price their goods as the internet pile the pressure on traditional and high-street businesses. Furthermore, consumer confidence, stiff competition and increased transparency rise the heat on maintaining a healthy bottom line, says a new report from PwC, “The power of pricing”.

Preassure1

The survey of over 500 companies worldwide highlights some significant and also surprising trends in how companies set prices.

 

More than 40% of respondents consider pricing to be the most effective way of growing profitability. However, only 26% believe increased prices will drive profits over the next three years while a significant minority (17%) believe that profits will decline along with their prices.

David Lancefield, partner, PwC, says:

Pricing is one of the main levers you can pull to make an impact on your bottom line. It’s especially important to get it right in a world in which investors and customers are more demanding than ever. Yet only 5% of respondents feature in the top quartile of all aspects of pricing performance.

The results also show that as many as 60% of respondents adopt the most basic approaches to setting prices including matching competitors’ prices or applying a fixed mark up to costs. More sophisticated approaches such as pricing based on customer willingness to pay are less common.

Nazanin Naini, senior consultant, PwC, says:

The greatest challenge for companies is to understand where they generate real value and to reflect this in their pricing. Many companies claim to be customer centric, yet understanding what customers really value is one of the most commonly stated challenges, with only 13% of our survey respondents telling us they have deep insight into their customers’ willingness to pay. 

Furthermore, we often see companies taking a scatter gun or uniform approach rather than, for example, setting prices in a way that rewards loyalty and customers generating high profitability, as opposed to those most costly to the business.

Companies often underestimate the importance of having the necessary people and systems to support an effective pricing strategy.  Nearly half of the survey respondents don’t have a pricing team to make fully considered recommendations on pricing. As a result businesses often give their sales force discretion to discount from list prices, making profit targets less achievable.

David Lancefield, partner, PwC, said:

Our research suggests that the infrastructure to support smart pricing decisions is not fit for purpose. Almost half the respondents struggle to develop an IT infrastructure that supports pricing, whilst 37% struggle with governance and decision-making.

A poor pricing strategy can result in a loss of customers and a backlash from important stakeholders. When it’s done well, it’s the most powerful and effective way to achieve profitable growth.