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September 26, 2023

Raises at the Queen’s PwC Are Better Than Other Big 4s But Still Not Beating Inflation

UK inflation is at a balmy 9.1% and rising, the job market is red hot, and accounting firm partners everywhere are digging through their kitchen junk drawers for all the buy-one-get-one pizza coupons they can find. It’s rough out there — for employers.

eFinancialCareers is busy sharing details on Big 4 salaries across the pond in this blessed workers’ market and if you don’t follow them already you really should, their Morning Coffee newsletter is just full of lovely information that never fails to be the piss in partners’ Cheerios.

One aspect we’re particularly fond of is how eFC pits Big 4 firms against banks. Like this:

While banks have, for the most part, spent the past year increasing junior salaries at a rate far exceeding inflation, the Big Four professional services firms (EY, Deloitte, KPMG & PWC) have not.

As we reported earlier this month, first year audit associates at EY’s London office have had their salaries increased from £29k ($36k) to £30k this year, which looks parsimonious in light of a UK inflation rate of 9.1%. However, KPMG was more generous in May, with mid-year pay rises of £2-4k for non-partners, backdated to April, in addition to its standard annual pay increase in October.

We need to pause here momentarily and call out the above paragraph’s spectacular and totally appropriate weaponization of the English language.

“unwilling to spend money or use resources; stingy or frugal.”


Moving on with some freshly-reported specifics on PwC UK’s definition of “competitive”:

Now PWC has come in with a feat of greater generosity still. The Times reports that it’s hiked pay for 11,000 of its 22,000 UK staff by the most for a decade. Experienced PWC people are getting a 9% salary hike and PWC graduates are getting 10%.

How much will they earn as a result? The Times is strangely silent on this, but it seems consulting juniors at PWC who had been getting around £31k in the first year and £34k in the second year will now be on salaries of £34k and £37k instead. Still, that’s less than half the going rate for analysts at investment banks in London.

In a press release, Chairman Kevin Ellis said “as a business and an employer we can’t ignore market pressures and want to ensure pay at every level is as competitive as possible.” To that end, they’re investing more than £120m (US$147.2m) in pay raises and allocating an additional £138m (US$169.3m) to bonuses this year, up £10m (US$12.3m) from last year. “Our significant investment in pay reflects the strong underlying productivity of the firm following recent investments, and the continued hard work of our people,” he said.

PwC left this note to editors at the bottom of the press release so I guess I should include it what with being called out and all:

The majority of our people will receive at least a 7% rise in base pay, effective from 1 July. Those receiving less would include those people near the top of their respective pay bands, and recent joiners who negotiated their pay rate at the point of joining. The percentage rise would also be influenced by any other pay increases this year, where applicable.

On top of base pay, our people get a wide range of financial and non financial benefits which you can find out more about here:

With all this talk about pay you’ll remember here that despite the tight job market and high demand for accounting talent, PwC UK is picky about who they hire. It stands to reason then that they’d want to reward the high caliber talent they do let through the doors. You’d think.

Will this move be enough for PwC to come out on top in the talent war? Something tells us wherever Big 4 firms end up, it will be squarely in the middle.

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1 Comment

  1. I mean, they’ve given out basically nothing for the past three years so this is them just playing catch up, as they have been haemorrhaging staff. They might also want to spend some money on making their dreadful systems talk to each other too.

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