The world’s four largest accounting firms: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) (1849)

The history of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC for short) can be traced back to 1849 (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and 1854 (WonderwaterhouseCoopers). The two companies merged in London in 1998 to become the current PricewaterhouseCoopers (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Headquartered in London, England, with 195,000 full-time employees (2014), it is the world’s second-largest international accounting and auditing professional services company. Together with Deloitte , Ernst & Young and KPMG , it is the four major international accounting firms. The PwC franchise in Taiwan is a joint accounting firm (special general partnership). World’s top four accounting firms that are all private, non-listed companies .


PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC):

The predecessor of PricewaterhouseCoopers was Price Waterhouse (Price Waterhouse) established in 1849 and Coopers & Lybrand (Coopers & Lybrand) established in 1854. In 1998, they merged in London to form PricewaterhouseCoopers (PricewaterhouseCoopers). ).

Price Waterhouse:

  • In 1849, Samuel Price began his accountant career in London. In 1865, Price established a partnership accounting firm with William Howrieland and Edwin Waterhouse . Howrieland soon pursued his own development in the field of accounting. In 1874, the firm was named Price, Waterhouse & Co. (the title “&Co.” was abandoned a long time later). The initial partnership agreement signed by the three can also be found in Southwark Towers, the office building of PricewaterhouseCoopers London office.
  • By the late 19th century, PricewaterhouseCoopers had gained widespread recognition as an accounting firm. In response to the rapidly developing trade relations between the United Kingdom and the United States, PricewaterhouseCoopers opened a branch in New York in 1890, and subsequently, the branch has developed rapidly. In 1904, Liverpool, England, and PricewaterhouseCoopers also opened their own branch offices; later, they continued to open new offices in major areas within the UK. In terms of international business, PwC has independent organizations and businesses in each country and region, so branches in any country have a strong desire to develop business. Moreover, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ expansion in the world is not accomplished through international mergers and reorganizations, but through alliances that establish cooperative relations.
  • In 1989, in order to obtain sufficient economies of scale, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Arthur Andersen once discussed the merger; but the matter eventually broke down due to business differences between the two parties (especially IBM ‘s business).

Coopers & Lybrand:

  • In 1854, William Cooper established his own accounting firm in London. Due to the joining of his three brothers, the firm was named Cooper Brothers (Cooper Brothers).
  • In 1898, Rober H. Montgomery ( Rober H. Montgomery ), William M. Lybrand ( William M. Lybrand ), Adam A. Ross Jr. (Adam A. Ross) and his brother T. Edward · Ross ( T. Edward Ross ) established Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery in the United States. The above-mentioned two firms merged into Yongdao in 1957, after which they absorbed a Canadian accounting firm. In 1990, because some of Deloitte’s subsidiaries opposed the merger with Touche Ross, they chose to merge into the British branch of Yongdao. The branch was renamed Yongdaqin, and then restored in 1992. The name of Yongdao.

In 1998, in order to expand their own scale, PricewaterhouseCoopers and PricewaterhouseCoopers finally reached an agreement and merged into the current PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm.

Recent history:

  • In the late 1990s, PricewaterhouseCoopers established a large-scale professional consulting agency that was even the same as its main audit agency, which also brought considerable income to the firm. Although it is cyclical, the firm’s Management Consulting Services is still their fastest growing business. The main driving force supporting this growth is the enterprise resource integration system such as SAP R/3 that they proposed in the 1990s.
  • However, PricewaterhouseCoopers is also under great pressure in terms of operations: in order to avoid conflicts of interest, the firm does not provide consulting services to audit clients. Since most of the audit clients of the firm are multinational super-large enterprises, this also restricts the development of the firm to a certain extent. These services can only be outsourced to organizations such as ERP systems. For the above reasons, Ernst & Young became the first firm among the “big four” to sell its consulting department.
  • Subsequently, PricewaterhouseCoopers had planned to sell its consulting department to HP for US$17 billion, but in 2000, the two sides eventually broke down due to difficulty in reaching an agreement.
  • In May 2002, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that its consulting business would form a separate corporate entity. Wolff Olins established for the planning of the new company designed the trademark – ” Monday ” ( catalog on Monday ). The CEO of this new company, Greg Brenniman declared: to provide customers with real, feasible, identifiable, global and appropriate consulting services. But this plan was quickly replaced. In October 2002, PricewaterhouseCoopers sold its consulting department to IBM for approximately US$3.9 billion through cash and share swaps. This department was eventually merged into IBM Global Business Services, which greatly improved IBM’s related business capabilities and increased IBM’s profitability to a considerable extent.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) global structure:

The legal structure of a limited partnership is very different from the concept of a company; for such a global enterprise, it is actually a collection of multiple member companies; they operate independently according to their respective jurisdictions. The senior partners of these member companies are one of the company’s global market shareholders, and are coordinated by PriceWaterhouseCoopers International Limited, a head office registered in the United Kingdom. The current CEO of the company is Samuel A. DiPiazza Jr, who was originally a partner of Yongdao.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) services:

1. Global Service

PwC mainly provides the following services:

  • Audit and guarantee
  • Taxation (preparation of tax budget in compliance with local laws, transfer prices, etc.)
  • Consulting, including providing efficiency improvement solutions, providing training in certain aspects (such as accounting or insurance consultants), as well as consulting on mergers and acquisitions and crisis management

PwC’s services will generally be refined as follows:

  • Consumer Goods and Industrial Products and Services (CIPS)
  • Financial Services (FS)
  • Technology, Information, Communication and Entertainment (TICE)
  • Private Company Service (PCS)

The services provided by the company may vary slightly in different regions.

2. Consulting business


  • PwC has formulated a series of enterprise risk management (ERM) plans, including an incentive plan to promote global business and outsourcing of enterprises
  • The current services provided by the consulting department also include insurance consulting: Insurance Management Solutions (AIMS); at the same time, there are also human resources services (HRS). These services mainly include: pension insurance, life insurance, accident insurance and investment insurance. AIM mainly involves life insurance and property insurance, while HRS mainly covers pension insurance.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers now also serves the Washington Federal Office of Practice (WFP). The firm’s headquarters with more than 2,000 employees is located in the Washington Metro corridor building

PwC PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) major customers:

PwC’s business income in Europe and North America accounted for 81% of the firm’s total revenue, of which the European part accounted for 45%. According to business divisions, auditing is PwC’s main business, and its income Accounted for 50% of total revenue.

  • PwC’s clients include Exxon Mobil , Ford Motor , Chevron Texaco and IBM . The firm also provides services to four of the top ten listed companies in the UK.
  • Since 1934, PricewaterhouseCoopers has been authorized by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to become the exclusive voting auditor for the Oscars.
  • Currently, PwC’s client base covers 40% of the financial Times 1000 target companies and 45% of the “Fortune 100” energy companies.

Disputed events:

In February 2017, when the best film was awarded at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony, PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant who was responsible for Oscars counting and keeping the envelopes mistakenly handed the wrong envelopes to the awarding guests, leading to the live broadcast process A major error occurred in the Responsible for announcing the best picture award winners are Warren Beatty and Fei Donnawei. Beatty opened the envelope and hesitated for a few seconds before handing the envelope to Donnawei. Donnawei said that the winner of the best picture award was “La La Land” . During the “La La Land” producer’s testimony, the PwC staff at the backstage found that Beatty had taken the wrong envelope and immediately went on stage to inform the crew that the true winner was “Moonlight”. “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz announced the result to the audience, showed the result in the correct envelope and asked the “Moonlight” crew to take the stage to accept the award. Beatty also explained that his envelope was the result of the best actress. The letter read “Emma Stone, La La Land”, so he hesitated before announcing the result. PricewaterhouseCoopers subsequently issued a statement, “sincerely apologize” to the two crews, two award-presenting guests and the audience, saying that it will investigate the cause of the mistakes, and thank the two crews, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Broadcasting Corporation and the host Cammore The handling of this incident.

PwC official website :

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