Editor's letter: And the Oscar goes to...

6 March 2017 by Vincent Huck

Never mind La La Land or Moonlight controversies, it’s safe to assume that Damian Chazelle, Barry Jenkins and all the cast and technical staff of their respective movies will survive the trauma of the envelope hiccup.

That little story aside, PwC USA would still receive International Accounting Bulletin’s vote for a few Oscar nominations. Here is how the plot unfolds:

In preparing the USA survey, it came to our attention that their transparency report 2015 showed total fee income of $ 12,899.0m for year end 30 June 2015.

But their transparency report 2016 showed total fee income of $ 14,327.0m for that same year end: 30 June 2015 (we assume this is a typo).

And amazingly, PwC Global network’s global annual review for 2015 reported fee income for PwC USA of $ 12.2bn for year end 30 June 2015.

So out of three reports, PwC USA reported three different total fee incomes for the same year end – that must be an act of transparency in an effort of building trust!

Working on the premise that the transparency report titled 2016 is indeed a typo and the year end is actually 30 June 2016, this raises another question.

According to the 2015 transparency report, advisory accounted for 32% of total fee income ($ 4,127.7m). And according to the transparency report 2016, advisory accounted for 35% of fee income ($ 5,014.4m). Assuming that these are two different year ends, it would suggest a growth in advisory of 21.5% between 2015 and 2016.

The acquisition of Booz&Co (now Strategy&) having taken place in 2014, it is unlikely that this would be the cause of this spectacular growth.

Surely those are simple questions for a firm whose purpose, according to its transparency report, is to “build trust in society and solve important problems”. So International Accounting Bulletin contacted PwC Global on 20 February to get some clarification. We were swiftly directed to a member of the PR team in the USA on the same day. Using the magic of the forward button, our new contact passed on our request to another member of the USA PR team.

Contact number three came back to us, requesting we share the report we were referring to as they weren’t familiar with it.

We duly sent PwC USA their own transparency report – some movies do have a twist! But from there, the plot goes cold.
As we followed up the next day, contact number three forwarded our request to contact number four, who never even acknowledged the email. Of course, we followed up by email and phone, to no avail.

Seven days after our initial enquiry, we informed contact number four that we were going to press three days later and unless we got an answer, well, there might be an Oscar in the bag!

Sure enough we were told we would get our answer the very same day…but it wasn’t to be.

So we sent this year’s USA survey to press without PwC’s figures.

We haven’t given up, though. And we have sent our questions to Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as they seem to have the envelopes with all the answers.