September 20, 2019

PwC Is Hiring GE’s Tax Team

Well, this is something. PwC is hiring General Electric’s tax department:

Yes, PwC is excited about it. Here’s a press release. Here’s a Medium post from Vice Chairman Mark Mendola, the firm’s head of tax. Here’s Tim Ryan retweeting. PwC will hire over 600 tax professionals from GE for five years. The deal is renewable, doesn’t involve any money changing hands and goes into effect on April 1. This unit will be known as Global Enterprise Tax Solutions and apparently they’re going to be busy. Here’s Michael Rapoport in the Wall Street Journal:

The GE unit, known as Global Enterprise Tax Solutions, could in time bring in more than $1 billion in a year in revenue to PwC from GE and other clients, said Mark Mendola, PwC’s vice chairman and U.S. managing partner. With tax overhauls happening around the world, and the “great relationships with policy makers” that GE’s tax professionals have, “we think it’s a great opportunity,” he said.

This is interesting because: 1) It is an unusual deal; 2) KPMG maybe could’ve done this if their audit business hadn’t gotten in the way; or maybe they never could. Either way, I still feel like KPMG’s losing something to PwC here. 3) Other clients? Gosh, I wonder how the GE people feel about this? If it takes 600+ people to manage GE, when are they going to have time to work on anything else?

Personally, if I was a tax nerd at GE, I’m not sure I’d be down with this deal. A good portion of these people probably took jobs at GE (or somewhere else) to get out of a public accounting or law firm. Sure, they probably still work plenty hard, but part of the appeal to leaving a firm like PwC behind is all the crap that comes with a job like that. Things like timesheets and all the “commitment to service” posturing. GE builds stuff! Stuff like light bulbs and jet engines and power plants and intricate tax structures. Now the tax folks are getting pulled back into “integrity” and “client service” and “world class expertise.” If it were me, I don’t think it’d feel the same.

And you may be next! Here’s something near the bottom of Mark Mendola’s Medium post:

Significantly, this model isn’t limited to tax. We increasingly see clients that want more flexibility in managing their staff or desire move from a fixed- to a variable-cost model. The integrated, global platform we are enabling to service GE’s tax needs can work just as well in internal audit or data processing, for example.

Anyway, I guess the bright side is that the grumpiest of GE’s tax team will soon be regulars on Going Concern. Let’s all give them a warm welcome.

[WSJ, Medium, PwC]

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