PwC boss warns ‘negativity’ about audit industry will put off new recruits
The UK head of PwC has warned that continued criticism by politicians and industry watchdogs will damage the audit sector, according to reports.
Kevin Ellis, UK chair and senior partner at PwC, said the reputational harm would make it harder to attract and retain auditors, making it more likely for the audit giant to look abroad for talent. It “becomes much harder if there’s a current of external negativity”, Ellis explained in an interview with the Financial Times.
His comments come as the number of recently qualified solicitors who left the Big Four firm was eight per cent higher compared to other parts of the business this year, an increase of six per cent differential in 2020.
Ellis hinted that it was increasingly difficult to sign on auditors from the UK, as only 15 per cent of qualified auditors in the pipeline to join PwC over the next three months are domestic candidates while the majority are from overseas.
Audit, he said, was still seen as offering a “trusted” business training but Ellis warned that its attractiveness was at risk of being hurt “if the external narrative from politicians and regulators focuses on the negatives rather than its critical importance to the economy,” referring to the scrutiny the sector has come under after a series of corporate collapses such as retailer BHS and café chain Patisserie Valerie which auditors, including the Big Four firms, failed to flag beforehand.