ONE of the UK’s big four accountancy firms has reported an 11% hike in profits after it “held its nerve” and continued to take on staff despite challenging markets.
Professional services firm PwC recruited 2,300 people in the year to June, including more than 1,200 graduates and 100 school-leavers.
Contract wins with Aviva, Dubai World and Yule Catto boosted its auditing and assurance division and helped the firm report “a strong performance” in the year despite a “very challenging” market.
Revenues in the UK rose 7% to £2.6bn, while profits were up 10.8% to £727m.
Average profit per partner rose 4.6% to £798,000, although the amount they received after payments to retired partners and equity adjustments fell 4% to £679,000.
Ian Powell, PwC UK chairman and senior partner, said: “We took a decision at the start of the downturn to continue to hold our nerve and invest in our business.
“We have recruited significant numbers of new people, and invested heavily in our infrastructure to make sure we deliver a world-class service to our clients.” He added that there was “significant potential“ to increase its share of work among private companies.
But the strong results will attract the attention of the Competition Commission, which is investigating the dominance of the big four accountancy firms over the UK market.
It follows strong results from rival Deloitte, which last month reported an 11% surge in revenues despite mounting pressure on audit fees in the industry.
PwC said it had invested in its network of regional offices across the UK and made a number of acquisitions as part of its long-term growth strategy.
Its assurance division saw revenues rise 6% to £963m but other divisions also enjoyed strong growth, with its arm advising companies on mergers and acquisitions seeing revenues rise 8% and its consulting arm, which includes sustainability and climate change services, up 13%.
Powell added: “While the short-term economic environment remains tough I am confident in the UK’s longer term prospects.
“We will continue to invest to ensure we are able to support the economic recovery when it comes and plan to maintain our record recruitment levels in the coming year.”
PwC, which operates in 158 countries and employs 169,000 staff in total, said its UK arm paid £975m in taxes to the UK Exchequer in the year.
The firm is also performing strongly in the North East. Paul Woolston, senior partner in the Newcastle office, said: “I am delighted that our continued market in the North East has delivered dividends,” said Paul Woolston, senior partner at the firm’s Newcastle office.
“We are proud of our client base and the breadth of our services. We aim to be at the centre of economic growth in the North East and are optimistic for the future.”