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PwC to cut 300 jobs, close Adelaide support hub

Business

The firm says divestment of its government consulting arm and market conditions have forced its hand.

By Philip King 10 minute read

PwC will cut more than 300 jobs and close an Adelaide hub as the firm absorbs the backlash from its tax secrets scandal, reduced demand and spin-off of its government consulting arm.

The cutbacks involve 141 job losses from PwC’s Adelaide Skilled Service Hub (SSH) support centre along with 197 cuts across the national organisation.

Most of the impacted roles in Adelaide were in consulting or trust and risk, PwC said, and a further 201 staff would be reassigned.

It said the decision was “a result of our changed client base and our business environment, and does not reflect our commitment to South Australia and the South Australian economy”.

“We have been working hard to protect as many SSH jobs as possible, and 201 roles from our Hub will be realigned to our national workforce teams. These people will remain in our Adelaide offices. They will service corporate clients across a breadth of business areas including cloud, digital, tax, deals and audit capabilities.”

Informing staff yesterday, CEO Kevin Burrowes said the cutbacks were “in response to the reduction in the size of the business, the firm’s changing portfolio and strategic areas of focus, and economic headwinds”.

“These are extremely difficult decisions and my thoughts are with all of those people and their families impacted by the changes we have been forced to make,” Mr Burrowes said.

“While we are optimistic about the future, PwC must take pragmatic action to manage these challenges and make difficult decisions to meet the needs of its clients and to ensure the long-term success of the firm.”

Included in the nationwide cuts were 75 staff unable to join Scyne Advisory, the reborn government consulting arm of PwC, who were put on leave last week. A total of 1,300 staff and 100 partners would move to Scyne Advisory.

“We attempted to find alternative positions for these impacted staff within PwC, however, this was not always possible or desired by the individual given their client work, areas of expertise or skills,” the firm said.

The Adelaide SSH had been opened in 2021 to support the firm’s growing public sector business but demand fell away with the Scyne divestment and the impact of months of scrutiny following revelations that a PwC partner had used confidential Treasury plans to advantage the firm and its clients.

PwC Australia said it would proceed with a planned intake of 388 graduates for its assurance and financial advisory businesses but stall graduates destined for consulting.

“While all graduate offers will be honoured, graduates earmarked to join our consulting business have been offered a voluntary opportunity to defer their commencement date for six to 12 months. Eight graduates will be starting their careers with PwC Australia in Adelaide.”

PwC said aside from a small number of staff in Adelaide, audit teams were quarantined from the cuts. However, its statement came shortly after Westpac said it would put its external audit out to tender in a commitment to “best practice for audit firm rotation”.

PwC or its predecessors had been Westpac’s auditor since 1968.

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Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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