Just four accounting firms – PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young – audit 97 per cent of FTSE 350 companies and 99 per cent of the FTSE 100 on the London Stock Exchange. 
- 1 Controversies and conflicts of interest
- 1.1 Secondments to the Treasury
- 1.2 Tax avoidance
- 1.3 Political donations and hospitality
- 1.4 US SEC investigation
- 1.5 Healthcare and privatisation of NHS
- 1.6 Lobbying and PR
- 1.7 Political donations
- 2 Corporate spin
- 3 Brief history
- 4 Services offered
- 5 Industries serviced
- 6 Notable current and former employees
- 7 FTSE 100 Audit clients
- 8 Key staff
- 9 Affiliations
- 10 Contacts
- 11 Resources
- 12 References
Controversies and conflicts of interest
Secondments to the Treasury
In 2013 a report by the influential UK Commons public accounts committee found that the Big Four were using knowledge gained from staff seconded to the Treasury "to help wealthy clients avoid paying UK taxes". The firms, it said, went on to "advise multinationals and individuals on how to exploit loopholes around legislation they had helped to write".
PAC committee chair Margaret Hodge said the accountancy firms' actions represented a "ridiculous conflict of interest". She called for the Treasury to stop accepting their staff to draw up new tax laws. "The large accountancy firms are in a powerful position in the tax world and have an unhealthily cosy relationship with government," she said. 
'Contributions' to parties
During the UK Coalition government the 'big four' firms have contributed almost £2.5 million to Britain's three main political parties. As of April 2015, PwC had contributed the most with £1.6 million. The contributions are listed as 'non-cash donations', representing the value of staff costs and services (secondments) such as consultancy or advisory and are provided to the party free of charge. Of the £2.5 million from the 'big four', the Labour Party received £1.5 million (roughly £1.1 million from PwC) and the Liberal Democrats received £742,362 (roughly 542,000 from PwC).
Under the previous Labour government, the Conservative Party received £1.7 million, including £601,178 of PwC's total of £882,516.
The Big Four have been accused of aiding tax avoidance for many years. In 2006 HMRC said they were behind almost half of all known avoidance schemes. In 2007 and 2008 Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex wrote:
- "The global tax-avoidance industry is dominated by lawyers, bankers, financiers and the four major accountancy firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche) in particular."
- PricewaterhouseCoopers has advised the Conservative party on taxation policies. After examining evidence, a report by the US Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs (pdf) concluded that the firm sold "generic tax products to multiple clients, despite evidence that some ... were potentially abusive or illegal tax shelters". 
Political donations and hospitality
US SEC investigation
According to Public Accounting Report:
- In 2000 PwC were the subject of a major investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. There were 140 cases of staff at the auditor holding financial interests in the companies they were auditing. In February 2001, the Financial Times reported that, “The appointment... of PwC, the leading accountancy firm, to investigate the relationship between Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, and Itera, the fast-growing gas company, has raised eyebrows among even hardened Moscow investors.” The FT cited estimates that PwC had earned $15 million in fees working for Gazprom, and would now be investigating its own past work for the company. The chief suspicion was that unacknowledged ‘below market price’ transactions had been taking place between Gazprom and Itera, something which, if true, PwC should have known about. The FT concluded, “The PwC appointment is the latest example of behaviour by international auditing firms in Russia that raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest.” PwC have also been the subject of several investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In May 2001, the firm agreed to pay $55 million to settle a class action suit raised by shareholders of MicroStrategy, Inc. The software manufacturer had admitted to telling investors it was still profitable while it had in fact been losing millions. A report filed in court said the audit firm "consistently violated its responsibility" to maintain an appearance of independence. It cited an e-mail from a PwC auditor seeking a job at MicroStrategy while he was the senior manager on the team that reviewed the company’s accounting. PwC also received money for reselling MicroStrategy software and recommending it to other clients, and was working on setting up a business venture with its audit client, according to the report. Only the previous year, PwC had settled with 350 plaintiffs who had invested in the California based company First Pensions Corporation. The settlement came after Coopers & Lybrand and partner Hal Hurwitz had been found liable by a jury of misrepresenting First Pensions’ financial condition, concealing material information and abetting the company’s managers in fraud. Although the terms of the eventual settlement were not disclosed, the suit filed in Orange County Superior Court had sought damages of $136 million.
Healthcare and privatisation of NHS
In 2015 NHS England announced a new list of approved suppliers to the NHS. The list is dominated by outsourcing giants Capita; management consultancies PwC and KPMG; and US health insurer UnitedHealth. NHS England insists the companies who are bidding for contracts to supply support services to the GP-led commission groups will supply a range of back office functions, cutting procurement times and allowing doctors to focus on how best to spend their £70bn share of the NHS budget.' All of the firms are members of the Commissioning Support Industry Group, a 'low-profile body that affords them regular access to the senior NHS officials overseeing the creation of the new market in commissioning services.' Other members of the Group include management firms Ernst and Young and McKinsey who have also been awarded prominent roles.
Lobbying and PR
PwC the lobbyist
PwC also operates in the area of government relations or lobbying. See for example PwC Consulting Ltd. PR Watch reports:
- PricewaterhouseCoopers is providing government relations services to Uzbekistan, the Central Asian country that is a prime ally in President Bush's 'War on Terror,'" O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "It is giving 'strategic advice and assistance' to Uzbekistan about dealing with the U.S. Congress, and Executive Branch on economic and trade relations, according to PWC's 'engagement letter.' The firm is receiving $300,000 a-year for its counsel." According to O'Dwyer's, former Republican Congressman and chair of the House Ways and Means committee Bill Archer will be "heading the work."
Lobbyists acting on its behalf
Former lobbying firms
- Quiller Consultants, until February 2014
- Cicero Consulting, until March 2011
- Bellenden runs the Associate Parliamentary Group for Energy Services (PGES), of which PwC is a member until 2013 
- Insight Public Affairs, June 2014-November 2014
In-house lobbyists and PR
- Emma Thorogood - Director of Communications at PwC
- Jamie Harley - UK head of media relations since February 2011
- PwC packages a number of its corporate services in response to an increased awareness of ‘intangible assets,’ chief among which is reputations. As companies get larger and take over smaller companies, the cost of damage to the parent companies’ reputation grows in tandem.
- Protest against multinationals has forced them to engage more with their critics and the people affected by what they do. Promoting their ‘reputation assurance’ package PwC say:
- Corporate leaders are discovering that by engaging stakeholders, adopting rigorous business strategies, and implementing reputation management systems, they can more effectively establish trust with stakeholders, gain a competitive advantage, mitigate the impact of crises, and preserve a company’s most important asset – its reputation.
- In early 2001, PwC was called-in by the Canadian firm Talisman Energy to verify a corporate responsibility and human rights report of its operations in Sudan. Talisman was accused by human rights and development organisations,including Christian Aid and Amnesty International, of being complicit in human rights abuses around its oilfields in Sudan. These included forcible displacements and murder of civilians by government troops.
- The company’s report was criticised by these organisations. Amnesty International noted that it failed to respond to concerns they had raised that the Sudanese government continued to commit human rights abuses in order to clear areas for oil exploration. It also criticised Talisman for failing to take the necessary steps to properly implement a code of ethics that it had signed up to. Yet rather than get a human rights or development organisation to verify its report, Talisman called in PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC itself commented that it was “not conducting an in-depth study either of the effects of Talisman's presence in the Sudan or of the impact of oil production on the country.” It also intended to travel only within the areas covered by Talisman’s concession and controlled by the government. Its ability to conduct a serious verification of Talisman’s operations was thus severely limited,and questioned by human rights and aid organisations.
- In the words of Jennifer Woodward, responsible for overseeing the verification, PwC saw its role as “adding independence and credibility” to Talisman’s corporate responsibility report. From a human rights and development perspective however, verification and monitoring should be about establishing the facts and upholding human rights standards, not about rubber-stamping what companies say about themselves.
- There are also conflict of interest questions. At the same time that PwC was verifying Talisman’s Sudan report, it was acting as a consultant to Talisman on how to design and implement a corporate responsibility strategy. At a broader level,PwC is seeking to move into environmental and social audits and verification processes of corporate responsibility reports just as it enters the public relations market. PR and independent verification do not go very well together, and this will raise even more questions about the suitability of the constantly hybridising and diversifying accountancy firms to offer services in which their expertise is limited.
- 1849 – Samuel Lowell Price establishes practice in London
- 1854 – William Cooper establishes practice in London
- 1957 – Cooper Brothers & Co (UK), McDonald, Currie and Co (Canada) and Lybrand, Ross Bros & Montgomery (US) merge to form Coopers & Lybrand
- 1998 – Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand form PricewaterhouseCoopers
Audits | Assurance | Global Risk Management | Dispute investigations | Project finance and privatisations | Human Resources solutions | Securities | Management consultancy | Tax services
Aerospace and Defence, Automotive, Chemicals, Consumer Goods, Education, Energy, Engineering and Construction, Entertainment and Media, Financial Services, Paper, Government, Healthcare, Hospitality and Leisure, Insurance, Freight, Metals and Mining, Pharmaceuticals, Real Estate, Retail, Technology, Telecommunications, Transport.
Notable current and former employees
- Ian Powell, chairman and senior partner.
- Gaenor Bagley, head of people.
- James Chalmers, head of assurance.
- John Dwyer, head of deals.
- Stephanie Hyde, head of regions.
- Margaret Cole, general counsel.
- Kevin Ellis - manager partner 
- Kevin Nicholson - head of tax at PwC - gave evidence before the public accounts committee in 2013 
- Richard Oldfield, head of strategy.
- Warwick Hunt, chief financial officer and head of operations.
- Ashley Unwin, head of consulting.
- Dan Schwarzmann, head of clients and markets.
- Brian Campbell, oil and gas capital projects director at PwC
- Neil Sherlock, head of reputational management. Former SPaD to Nick Clegg.
- Frank Brown - former leader of the Advisory service line and current dean of INSEAD
- Barbara Cassani - former CEO of Go Fly and former chairman of the London 2012 Olympic committee.
- Cynthia Cooper - internal auditor, WorldCom accounting scandal whistleblower
- Robert Dart - Prominent Canadian businessman and philanthropist
- David Gill - Chairman of Manchester United F.C.
- Jonathan Howell - Director of Finance for the London Stock Exchange
- Margaret Jackson - Chairman of Qantas (2000-present)
- Mark King - CEO of Affiliated Computer Services
- Phil Knight - CEO and Co-founder of Nike
- Chris Lucas - Finance Director of Barclays Bank
- Dennis Powell - CFO of Cisco Systems, INC.
- James Schiro - CEO of Zurich Financial Services
- James M. Schneider - CFO of Dell
- Peter Smith - Chairman of Savills estate agents
- Henry Staunton - Finance Director of ITV plc (2003-present)
- John Surma - Chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel (2004-present)
- Eugene Tenenbaum - managing director of Millhouse Capital UK Ltd
- Min Zhu - co-founder of WebEx
- Richard Meddings - Group Finance Director, Standard Chartered plc
- Gianluca Meardi - Partner in Reply and founder of xPrice.biz international PwC Alumni community
Politics and public service
- Justine Greening - Conservative Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom (2005-present)
- David Heathcoat-Amory - Conservative Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom (1983-present)
- Mark Hoban - former Financial Secretary to the UK Treasury (May 2010-Sept 2012), currently Minister of State for Work and Pensions. Conservative Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom (2001-present)
- Margaret Hodge, Labour MP, former PwC management consultant, now chair of the UK Public Accounts Committee that has attacked PwC and other Big Four firms for their tax practices
- John Stuttard - Lord Mayor of London (2006)
- Stephen Williams - Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom(2005-present)
- Alan Milburn - former Labour Cabinet health minister joined PwC's new Health Industry Oversight Board in May 2013
- John Whiting - former tax partner at PwC and now a tax director of the Office of Tax Simplification.
- Chris Tail - former tax partner at PwC and former head of anti-avoidance at HMRC.
- John Liu - member of the New York City Council (2001-present)
- Jeffrey Lucy - chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (2004-present)
- Steven Ciobo - member of the Australian House of Representatives (2001-present)
- Robert McNamara - United States Secretary of Defense (1961-68); President of the World Bank (1968-81)
- Morten Andreas Meyer - Norwegian Minister of Modernisation (2001-05)
- Francis Plowden - laymember of the Judicial Appointments Commission
- Paul Szabo - Member of the Canadian House of Commons (1993-present)
PR, spin and lobbying
- Peadar Andrews - Gaelic footballer
- Keith Bradshaw - cricketer
- Teddy Flack - Australian athlete
- Marisha Pessl - writer
- Prannoy Roy - Indian journalist
- Enrique Sarasola - Spanish industrialist
- Thomas M. Sullivan - talk show host
- George Eykyn - director of comms at British Gas and former director of comms at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
FTSE 100 Audit clients
- ARM Holdings | Amersham | BG Group | BOC Group | Barclays | Brambles Industries | British Telecom | CGNU | Centrica | Daily Mail and General Trust | Friends Provident | GKN | Gallaher | GlaxoSmithKline | Great Universal Stores | Imperial Tobacco | Kingfisher | Land Securities | Lattice Group | Legal and General | Lloyds TSB | Logica | MAN Group | Marks and Spencer | National Grid Group | Northern Rock | Pearson | Powergen | Reckitt Benckiser | Rentokil Initial | Reuters Group | Rio Tinto | Royal and Sun Alliance | Sage Group | Sainsburys | Schroders | Scottish Power | Severn Trent | Shell Trans Trading Co. | Smiths Group | South African Breweries | Tesco | Unilever | United Business Media | Wolseley.
The following are PwC audit clients that are part of the FT Global 500 (2006), grouped by FT industry
Aerospace & defence: Raytheon, United Technologies
Automobiles & parts: Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, Peugeot
Banks: Al Rahji Banking & Investment, Bank of America, Bank of China (Hong Kong), Bank of Ireland, Banco Itau, Banco Popular Espanol, Barclays, Compass Bancshares, Credit Agricole, BB&T, BNP Paribas, BradescoSamba Financial, Commerzbank, Dexia, DnB NOR, Firstrand Bank Limited, Fortis, JP Morgan Chase, Lloyds TSB, Riyad Bank, Sanpaolo IMI, Sberbank (Russia), SEB, Standard Bank, Suntrust Banks, Westpac Banking Corporation
Beverages: Anheuser-Busch, Miller, SAB
Chemicals: Albemarle, Bayer, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, Praxair, Shin Etsu Chemical, Rohm & Haas
Electricity: Chubu Electric Power, FirstEnergy, Exelon, Unified Energy System
Electronic & electrical equipment: Agilent Technologies, Kyocera, LG Philips LCD
Fixed line telecommunications: BellSouth, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, KPN, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Saudi Telecom
Food & drug retailers: Krispy Kreme, Seven & I Holdings Co., Tesco
Food producers: Danone, Kellogg, Unilever
Gas, water & multiutilities: Centrica, E.ONRWE, National Grid plc
General financial: American Express, Freddie Mac, Franklin Resources, Goldman Sachs, Nikko Cordial, SLMMoody's
General industrials: 3M, Honeywell International, Hutchison Whampoa
General retailers: eBay, GUS, Marks & Spencer
Healthcare equipment & services: Baxter International, HealthSouth Corporation, Medco Health Solutions, Medtronic, Zimmer Holdings
Household goods: Reckitt Benckiser
Industrial engineering: Caterpillar, Volvo
Industrial metals: Alcan, Alcoa, Nippon Steel, Nucor, Phelps Dodge, POSCO, Tenaris
Industrial transportation: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., Deutsche Post
Leisure goods: Nintendo
Life insurance: Legal & General, Protective Life Corporation, Prudential Financial
Media: CBS, Thomson, Viacom, Walt Disney
Mining: Barrick Gold, Newmont Mining, Rio Tinto
Mobile telecommunications: Alltel, Bharti Tele-Ventures, KDDI, MTN Group, Sonera, Telia, Vodafone
Nonlife insurance: Ace, American International Group, AMB Generali, AXA, Millea Holdings, Progressive Corporation, Swiss Re, Zurich Financial Services
Oil & gas producers: BG, Burlington Resources, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, EnCana Corporation, Eni, Gazprom, Imperial OilSuncor Energy, Marathon Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Canada
Oil equipment & services: Schlumberger
Personal goods: Colgate-Palmolive, L'Oreal, Nike, Richemont
Pharmaceuticals & biotechnology: Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Genzyme, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Wyeth
Software & computer services: IBM, Yahoo!
Sports: Laureus World Sports Awards
Technology hardware & equipment: Cisco Systems, Corning Inc., Dell, EMC Corporation, Ericsson, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics
Tobacco: Altria, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, ITC
Travel & leisure: Carnival, Las Vegas Sands
AffiliationsAll Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas in the UK - set up in 2013 - PWC is an associate member and an 'advisory group' member; the group is run by lobbying and PR firm Hill and Knowlton). 
- Member of D Group
London offices include:
1 Embankment Place
London, WC2N 6RH
London, WC2R 0AF
7 More London Riverside
London, SE1 2RT
10 - 18 Union Street
London, SE1 1SZ
Hays Lane , London, SE1 2RD
London ,EC4A 4HT
161 Marsh Wall
London, E14 9SQ
- See: The Corporate Capture of the NHS
- Tamasin Cave, The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS Spinwatch, 1 April 2015.
- Extracts from 'Five Brothers: the Rise and Nemesis of the Big Bean Counters: The Big Five audit firms are too big, unfit, unaccountable and increasingly irrelevant to the real economy', Author: Andrew Simms, Julian Oram, Publisher: NEF, Published: 25.03.02 http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/uploads/5br.pdf
- Donations from the Big Four under the Coalition Government
- Prem Sikka, Called to account, Guardian, 14 December 2008
- Prem Sikka, Auditors must be held to account, The Guardian, 31 May 2012
- Rajeev Syal, Simon Bowers and Patrick Wintour, [Accountancy firms 'use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax' – MPs] The Guardian, Friday 26 April 2013, acc 12 June 2013
- Gilt-edged profits for profession's 'big four', Guardian, 7 February 2009
- Prem Sikka, Viper's nest of tax avoiders, Guardian, 25 July 2007
- Prem Sikka, Accounting firms can't help on tax, Guardian, 1 August 2008
- For more on PWC and tax avoidance see Creative accountants:'Toms', an avoidance scheme that could have cost the Treasury £1bn, is just one of the top accountancy firms' elaborate wheezes , Guardian 'Tax Gap' series, 2009
- Bureau for Investigative Journalism, Top ten:Companies, 10 June 2013
- Public Accounting Report Volume XXIV,No. 17. September 15,2000
- Jamie Doward Fears grow over ‘land grab’ of NHS by private suppliers Guardian, 2 May 2015, accessed 4 May 2015.
- PR Watch PricewaterhouseCoopers Advises Uzbekistan citing O'Dwyer's PR Daily, July 16, 2002
- Register for 1st December 2013 - 28th February 2014 APPC, accessed 7 October 2014
- APPC Register Entry for 1 December 2010 to 28 February 2011
- APPC Register Entry for 1 Sep 2012 to 30 Nov 2012
- Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 29 January 2015
- Electoral Commission, Donor Search, accessed 16 May 2016
- Andrew Simms, Julian Oram Five Brothers: the Rise and Nemesis of the Big Bean Counters: The Big Five audit firms are too big, unfit, unaccountable and increasingly irrelevant to the real economy, Publisher: NEF, Published: 25.03.02
- Reputation Assurance – Global Home, http://www.pwcglobal.com
- Amnesty International, Press Release,1/5/01, “Talisman Energy Must Do More to Protect Human Rights”
- Christian Aid, "The Scorched Earth: oil and war in Sudan", 15/3/01
- Financial Times,15/5/2001,"Spinning and Pumping"
- HOPE: A newsletter about Corporate Responsibility, Talisman Energy,Fall 2000
- The Guardian, 13/3/2001,“PR industry faces outside threat”
- Who we are - alumni programme, PwC website, acc 16 June 2013
- Our performance - overview, PwC website, acc 16 June 2013
- Rajeev Syal, Simon Bowers and Patrick Wintour, Accountancy firms 'use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax' – MPs, The Guardian, 26 April 2013, acc same day
- American Benefits Council Memberships Accessed 26th February 2008
- Associate members list, www.appgunconventionaloilandgas.com, accessed 22 October 2015