PwC Boss Seeks An Open Debate On Regulation
By Ali Ahmad
According to FT, Ian Powell, chairman of PwC in the UK, says his motto during the crisis was “holding our nerve”. There are signs that it worked.
Since he took the top job two years ago his team has won the coveted role of administrator of Lehman Brothers in Europe and the firm reported last year a record fee income in the UK of £2.25bn.
However, the work on Lehman may in hindsight look light compared with the issues Mr Powell expects to build up over the next two years.
Regulators in the UK and Europe are probing the role of accountants in the crisis. The dominance of the Big Four of PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young is under scrutiny.
Investors want changes to the audit reports that are disclosed in a company’s annual report, to move them away from box-ticking and make them more opinionated. Auditors, meanwhile, are bracing for the prospect of increased litigation as the crisis dust settles.
Mr Powell, 54, also has plans to continue to grow the business, in particular to double the revenues of the consultancy practice against a backdrop of scything cuts in UK and European government spending.
The report in FT further said that on regulatory inquiries he wants a debate. First with Vince Cable, the business secretary, about changing “ground rules” for auditors and then with investors and regulators about the desire for more subjectivity in the audit report.
In five to 10 years he believes the “audit report will be more informative than it is now” but – on this point he is more forceful – not without some concessions on the regulators’ part.