Remember those PwC layoffs in Tampa a week or so back? Right. Anyway, the St. Petersburg Times decided to poke around this story a little bit more and discovered some things that most of you have known for awhile: there are two very different sides to large accounting firms and PwC is no exception.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has cultivated an image as one of corporate America’s upper-tier workplaces. Competitive pay. Great benefits. A perennial on Fortune’s list of Best Places to Work.
Human resources experts with the company have preached to clients about effectively managing workers and using layoffs as th es of crisis.
However, interviews with a half-dozen current and former Pricewaterhouse employees support a different picture of a financial evolution within the company in recent years. The accounting and professional services giant, known as PwC, has quietly and methodically slashed hundreds if not thousands of well-paying jobs, offshoring many functions to cheaper labor overseas.
A perennial on the Fortune list! It’s impressive to see the MSM catch on to the Big 4 M.O. so quickly. Anyway, the article goes on to explain that the accounting firms aren’t like regular corporations because, as we know, the “shareholders” are the partners of the firm:
Pricewaterhouse and the other top global accounting firms “make a lot of money, and they’ve had an increase in revenue for many years,” said Christopher Ames, president and CEO of the Ames Research Group, which analyzes financial data of the world’s largest professional services firms.
“These firms work differently than a publicly traded company. In the firms, the shareholders are the firm and there’s not that many of them. From the partners’ perspective, they want to keep that money … and they’ve done pretty well.”
Not only do the partners do well, St. Pete’s reveals a couple of other things we all know and that is 1) that getting a firm to admit that layoffs have even occurred is nothing short of water into wine and 2) the process and numbers involved are a complete mystery:
Confirmation of the latest layoffs was unusual. Many cuts happen below the radar. PwC has not filed any WARN layoff notices with the state this year for any cuts, including the latest one.
Consultant Francine McKenna, a former PwC employee who tracks the Big Four audit firms in her award-winning blog, re: TheAuditors, was shocked the company even confirmed the layoffs publicly. “They just don’t issue press releases,” said McKenna, who broke news of a previous PwC layoff in November.
Several PwC veterans said that is partly due to the process. A mass layoff is not typical; cuts come in small groups. Workers receive messages to “touch base” with a partner, a telltale sign they are about to lose their jobs. The total numbers are also murky, workers say, because a percentage of dismissed employees are offered either lateral jobs or lesser-paying jobs to stay with the firm.
Remember the November layoffs? If you don’t, it got ugly. The PwC loyalists got their claws out on that one.
PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Jon Stoner is quoted throughout but it’s mostly bites from the firm’s previous statement and he stonewalls reporter Jeff Harrington on any meaningful details.
For readers of this here fine publication, none of these tactics are new but Harrington dug up all the right dirt which is refreshing. He includes a quote from a former employee that probably sums it up for a lot of you, “It used to be a great place to work. They took care of their workers. “[Now,] it’s a company of bean counters, and all they care about is saving a few pennies.”
For PricewaterhouseCoopers, layoffs pad bottom line [St. Petersburg Times]
Bay News 9 out of Tampa reports that PwC is cutting 500 jobs in its IT practice and quotes firm spokesman Jon Stoner:
“PWC is making these changes as part of a thoughtful, strategic plan that will allow the firm to best serve its clients,” he said. “The firm is one of the largest private employers and recruiters in the U.S. and as we make these changes, we are simultaneously increasing the number of jobs in other areas of the U.S. firm. All impacted employees will be encouraged to apply for other open positions at PWC.”
The report says that the 500 cuts is out 1,100 total, the majority of which were in Tampa. People got the word on Thursday afternoon including, “They haven’t been notified of any sort of severance package, but the company felt it was important to give the workers a heads-up and the time until the end of the year to apply for other open positions.”
Our contributor Francine McKenna writes that not only is this “an unprecedented press release” (an accurate statement if we’ve ever heard one) but that the number of layoffs is rumored to be closer to 800, “The additional 300 professionals are those who will not be offered an opportunity to apply for jobs with the rumored outsourced services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).”
This is latest major move by PwC in Florida market. Back in March we reported on PwC closing their tax practice in the nearby Orlando office. According to the email we obtained, the practice closed on May 3rd.
If you’ve been affected by the layoffs in Tampa or know more details around these cuts, get in touch and discuss these developments in the comments.
PricewaterhouseCoopers cuts 500 jobs in Tampa [Bay News 9]
PricewaterhouseCoopers Cuts Hundreds of Internal IT Professionals [Re: The Auditors]