June 18, 2018

Let’s Wildly Speculate About Why PwC Is Shopping Its Government Services Practice

pwc culture

This Reuters story reports that PwC is looking to sell its government services, perhaps “to pursue the growing business of auditing government agencies.” The story says that Morgan Stanley is running the sale and private equity firms Veritas and Madison Dearborn Partners are two potential buyers. None of the firms mentioned commented for the Reuters story.

As for the work that PwC might be pursuing, there’s a new big fish:

One of biggest audits in history, the audit of the U.S. Department of Defense, kicked off this month and is due at the end of the government’s 2018 fiscal year.

According to Pentagon records, PWC, one of world’s largest auditing companies, has been contracted to provide “audit-readiness” services to the department.

“The Department is engaging auditors to perform over 24 individual financial statement audits of its largest components, as well as a Department-wide consolidated audit to summarize all results and conclusions on a DoD-wide basis,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

Gad. The Defense Department has something in the ballpark of $2.4 trillion in assets and is one of the most iconic organizations of any kind. So, indulge me while I speculate a bit.

Although PwC is fully committed to expanding its lucrative advisory business, the DoD is the type of crown jewel audit client the firm craves. By spinning off the government consulting arm, the firm would be able to pitch its services “With the full commitment to the integrity of the process” something-something. I’m sure the exact language on the RFP PowerPoint is being agonized over right this second.

But don’t think for a second that PwC is having a come-to-Jesus moment over independence. If they secure the audit, after a year two on the job, some slick client service partners will start pointing out the most Byzantine areas of DoD’s sprawling bureaucracy, and how the firm can help make them more efficient. Since the average DoD contract is worth something in the neighborhood of eleventy billion dollars, PwC should be able to rebuild its government consulting practice in about six months.

I’m sure someone at PwC has already thought this through. If not, you can thank me later, Tim.

[Reuters]

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PwC Partner, Not Wanting to Disappoint Guests, Has Open Call for Courageous Pianist

When you become a partner at a Big 4 firm, there are many unexpected challenges that you will face. You may have a trusted senior manager quit in the middle of busy season. You may discover that someone who you thought was your best friend is actually primo inventory from the jerk store. And if you’re really unlucky, you may get bombed at a happy hour (allegedly!), then slug a couple people (allegedly!), kiss a couple more (allegedly!), not remember a thing, claim that you were roofied and have a stranger call you up out of the blue and ask you about it.

Anyway, we’ve been informed of another bitch of a situation that can arise when you become partner – when the entertainment for your little soiree cancels on you at the last minute:

From: [redacted]
To:
Cc: [redacted]
Date: 10/04/2010 01:24 PM
Subject: Are you courageous or just talented?

All —

I am having an event at my home tonight and my normal pianist has canceled on short notice. This is a test of the courage of you as a group of people.

I know someone is out there in our midst who in their spare time is a really good pianist. I would be eternally thankful if those of you to whom this note applies, would volunteer to help me out tonight. I know we hire people with many talents — the question is — do you have the courage to display them? The event is from 6:00 – 9:00 PM in McLean. You will be well fed. If you are interested, please contact [redacted]. Hopefully we’ll get more than one taker, and we will figure out who we should use.

The fact of the matter is, my event this evening will survive the lack of a pianist. What I am really trying to figure out is what we as a people at pwc [Ed. note: nice usage of the low caps!] are made of.

Thank you,

Jesus. Talk about a conundrum. And since Big 4 partners don’t pull down the kind of dough that could afford them a short-notice call to Elton, Harry Connick, Jr., or even a cheap Liberace impersonator, throwing a line out into the employee talent pool was the only option this partner had.

Unfortunately, since this opportunity was on such short notice, anyone with the necessary skills that is now just learning about it is SOL. With any luck however, you can volunteer your services as a solid pinch-hitter for future reference. God knows how that comes in handy.

Presumably you don’t have to be the next Mozart but if you can pull off some singalongs such as “Piano Man,” “Friends in Low Places,” and “Sweet Caroline” that will go a long way to nailing down that “eternal” gratitude (for a future event of course).

Consulting Magazine Throws a Few Bones to the Big 4 with Latest “Best” Rankings

The Big 4 managed to squeeze onto a a couple different recent lists for their consulting efforts including Consulting Magazine’s 2010 Best Firms to Work For and Vault’s 2011 Consulting 50.

We’ll roll out the particulars of Consulting Mag’s lists first and give you Vault’s results later today.


Consulting Mag has several different lists but we’ll stick to the most relevant for the Big 4 . We’ll start off with the overall ranking:

1. Bain & Company
2. The Boston Consulting Group
3. North Highland
4. Point B
5. McKinsey & Company
6. Deloitte Consulting
7. Booz Allen Hamilton
8. PricewaterhouseCoopers
9. Accenture
10. Slalom Consulting
11. Milliman
12. Booz & Company
13. A.T. Kearney
14. Capco
15. PRTM

So the Big 4 really makes two appearances here with Deloitte and PwC. You could throw Accenture in there for old time’s sake. Back when we covered Barry Salzberg’s little merger chat in the Journal, two names that were thrown at him were Booz and A.T. Kearney. While this list is certainly no indication, you’ll see that based on the rankings, Deloitte ranks above both those firms despite commenters suggestion that Booz and A.T. are superior brands.

The list dominated by the Big 4 was the Business Advisory Services:

1. PricewaterhouseCoopers
2. Alvarez & Marsal
3. Ernst & Young
4. KPMG
5. FTI

You don’t see Deloitte and Accenture on this list since they fall on the “Multi-Service” list at #1 and #2 respectively and Capgemini (purchased E&Y Consulting in 2000) is numero uno on the Information Technology list.

Deloitte Consulting and PwC get dropped on a few more lists that include: Career Development, Work/Life Balance and Culture while KPMG and E&Y are nowhere to be found. A list of “Best Places to Start a Career” listed Deloitte at #3 and KPMG at #6 with PwC and E&Y MIA.

Naturally there is room for bellyaching and there are vaguely familiar frustrations in the feedback portion:

Leadership
You have to manage your career with little help from management. Here’s the rope, climb the mountain or hang yourself…

Work/Life Balance
The concept of a work life balance is talked about, but only as an afterthought.

Compensation/Benefits Satisfaction
Your work will double, but salary may not.

Those aren’t specific to any one firm but something tells us you could find someone in any of the Big 4 consulting/advisory groups griping about these issues. OH! And as far as scoring for morale goes, the Big 4 are shutout of the top ten.

So a bit of a mixed bag on this particular list but you’ll likely see a rash of press releases in the coming days and weeks along with emails and whatnot from your leadership.

So feel free to debunk the latest seemingly arbitrary rankings. We certainly expect the consulting purists of the bunch to be disgusted with the Big 4 sullying these particular grounds.

The Best Firms to Work For, 2010 [Consulting Magazine]
PricewaterhouseCoopers Named Among the Top 10 Best Firms to Work For by Consulting Magazine [PR Newswire]