PwC slashes 400 jobs in advisory and consulting units

17 June 2020 Consultancy.com.au

Professional services giant PwC has confirmed it is slashing 400 jobs from its consulting and advisory business, in move that CEO Tom Seymour describes as saddening but inevitable amid the current environment.

The largest of the so-called Big Four in Australia, PwC employs around 8,000 accountants, tax advisors, consultants, dealmakers and staff. The new measure will see that number drop by around 5%, with the full hit being taken by the advisory and consulting division.

The move was broken by The Australian Financial Review (AFR) this afternoon, shortly after PwC’s staff were informed by chief executive Tom Seymour in a firm-wide video meeting.

PwC wants to move quickly with its redundancies, said Seymour to AFR. “These are difficult decisions and we are saddened that making structural changes in some of our businesses will cause some difficult impacts. We do not underestimate the impact this has on our people and we will work through this process as thoroughly and quickly as possible to bring our people certainty.”

The job cuts include bringing partners into accelerated retirement, relieving senior and junior consultants, as well as staff working in support functions such as marketing and human resources.

PwC slashes 400 jobs in advisory and consulting units

The move is controversial because when PwC launched its ‘reduced working week program’, under which it forced employees to cut back their working hours, the firm told staff the move was designed to protect jobs and not make people redundant.

But plummeting revenues from consulting services has left the firm no option but to recalibrate its workforce. According to AFR’s reporting, revenue of the consulting division headed by the recently appointed David McKeering is down 15% compared to the pre-covid-19 era, while Strategy&, the firm’s strategy consulting division (formerly Booz & Company), has seen nearly half of its revenues evaporate.

Meanwhile, PwC’s corporate finance and mergers & acquisitions service lines have also seen a fallout of demand. A recent report by Deloitte found that 58% of business leaders expect the pandemic-induced downturn to negatively impact deal activity in 2020, with only distressed-focused dealmaking and debt restructurings to enjoy a hike. 

Bright spots in PwC’s consulting business are not surprisingly risk advisory and technology consulting, two areas of work which are facing an uptick in demand as they support crisis response planning and business continuity planning.

Not the first

While PwC Australia is the first of the larger PwC organisations in mature markets to seriously downsize its team, it is not alone. In April, KPMG Australia cut 200 jobs, and last week, Deloitte shed 5,000 jobs in the US, shortly after it chopped roles in Canada, and in the UK, Grant Thornton yesterday announced it is making redundancies to weather the Covid-19 crisis.

According to Consultancy.org, the global consulting industry is set to lose 18% to 20% of its value this year, as clients pause / cancel projects and delay new investments.


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