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PwC cutting nearly 400 jobs in major revamp

Sean Smith
The Nightly
PwC’s Australian chief executive Kevin Burrowes.
PwC’s Australian chief executive Kevin Burrowes. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

PwC is taking the axe again to its workforce, cutting another 370 jobs as management seeks to position the embattled audit and accounting firm for softer revenues and life after the sale of its government consulting arm.

The group is making redundant 329 employees across “all lines of service and support functions” and accelerating the retirement of 37 partners in one of the biggest-ever culls in Australia’s professional services sector.

The cuts represent about 5 per cent of PwC’s 7200-strong workforce and come just four months after it dumped 338 jobs in November.

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Affected staff were being notified on Wednesday, but the impact in WA is not immediately known.

PwC said the latest redundancies partly reflected “its shift to a private and corporate sector client-base” after offloading the government consulting business to private equity group Allegro for just $1 last year in the wake of the tax leaks scandal that has smashed the firm’s reputation.

“The firm has reviewed all aspects of its business, across every level of the organisation,” PwC said on Wednesday.

“The purpose of this review was to ensure the firm is positioned for future success and long-term growth, therefore current to medium-term economic and market conditions were also taken into account.”

However, PwC said it was beefing up its leadership team with a chief information officer and chief financial officer to “reduce layers” and would continue to hire people.

Also, it would honour contracts for its new graduates and hires, and appoint new partners, as usual, on July 1.

It said the job cuts would “result in the simplification of our enabling functions, the strategic combination of business units and a reconfiguration of the firm’s leadership team”.

PwC was engulfed in controversy last year with disclosures that a partner seconded to Federal Treasury leaked confidential tax information to other staff, who used it to help multinational clients minimise tax.

The firm was eviscerated by a Senate inquiry, which lashed its leadership and culture.

Chief executive Kevin Burrowes, who was parachuted in from Singapore to rehabilitate the Australian practice after the scandal, said the review had been “a very challenging and complex process, but an important one, as we realign our business structure with our new long-term strategy”.

“We acknowledge that days like today are especially difficult for those affected, as well as their teams and colleagues,” Mr Burrowes said.

“I can assure you that we will work closely with impacted individuals to ensure they are aware of their options and next steps.

“At its heart, this reorganisation will make the firm a more simplified, efficient and centre-led business, enabling us to continue delivering the highest quality of service to our corporate and private sector clients.”

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