Remember those PwC layoffs in Tampa a week or so back? Right. Anyway, the St. Petersburg Times decided to poke around this story a little bit more and discovered some things that most of you have known for awhile: there are two very different sides to large accounting firms and PwC is no exception.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has cultivated an image as one of corporate America’s upper-tier workplaces. Competitive pay. Great benefits. A perennial on Fortune’s list of Best Places to Work.
Human resources experts with the company have preached to clients about effectively managing workers and using layoffs as the last option in times of crisis.
However, interviews with a half-dozen current and former Pricewaterhouse employees support a different picture of a financial evolution within the company in recent years. The accounting and professional services giant, known as PwC, has quietly and methodically slashed hundreds if not thousands of well-paying jobs, offshoring many functions to cheaper labor overseas.
A perennial on the Fortune list! It’s impressive to see the MSM catch on to the Big 4 M.O. so quickly. Anyway, the article goes on to explain that the accounting firms aren’t like regular corporations because, as we know, the “shareholders” are the partners of the firm:
Pricewaterhouse and the other top global accounting firms “make a lot of money, and they’ve had an increase in revenue for many years,” said Christopher Ames, president and CEO of the Ames Research Group, which analyzes financial data of the world’s largest professional services firms.
“These firms work differently than a publicly traded company. In the firms, the shareholders are the firm and there’s not that many of them. From the partners’ perspective, they want to keep that money … and they’ve done pretty well.”
Not only do the partners do well, St. Pete’s reveals a couple of other things we all know and that is 1) that getting a firm to admit that layoffs have even occurred is nothing short of water into wine and 2) the process and numbers involved are a complete mystery:
Confirmation of the latest layoffs was unusual. Many cuts happen below the radar. PwC has not filed any WARN layoff notices with the state this year for any cuts, including the latest one.
Consultant Francine McKenna, a former PwC employee who tracks the Big Four audit firms in her award-winning blog, re: TheAuditors, was shocked the company even confirmed the layoffs publicly. “They just don’t issue press releases,” said McKenna, who broke news of a previous PwC layoff in November.
Several PwC veterans said that is partly due to the process. A mass layoff is not typical; cuts come in small groups. Workers receive messages to “touch base” with a partner, a telltale sign they are about to lose their jobs. The total numbers are also murky, workers say, because a percentage of dismissed employees are offered either lateral jobs or lesser-paying jobs to stay with the firm.
Remember the November layoffs? If you don’t, it got ugly. The PwC loyalists got their claws out on that one.
PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Jon Stoner is quoted throughout but it’s mostly bites from the firm’s previous statement and he stonewalls reporter Jeff Harrington on any meaningful details.
For readers of this here fine publication, none of these tactics are new but Harrington dug up all the right dirt which is refreshing. He includes a quote from a former employee that probably sums it up for a lot of you, “It used to be a great place to work. They took care of their workers. “[Now,] it’s a company of bean counters, and all they care about is saving a few pennies.”
For PricewaterhouseCoopers, layoffs pad bottom line [St. Petersburg Times]