Veteran’s Day In PwC Advisory: Say Auf Wiedersehen

By Francine • Nov 2nd, 2009 • Category: Audit Firm Management, Latest, Layoffs at Deloitte (And Others), Partner Compensation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pure Content, The Big 4 And Consulting, Your Career


I’ve just received word: There was a PwC Advisory partners emergency conference call tonight announcing upcoming involuntary staff reductions.

(This time the source is impeccable.)

New US Advisory Leader, Dana McIlwain laid out the bad news:  The time has come to cut. Average utilization is hovering at 69%. Cash collections are millions short.  Campus recruiting for Advisory has been stopped cold. Business sucks and then there’s the 800+ BearingPoint folks to absorb.

On November 11th the rank and file partners, fortified after training and coaching by HR via a webcast in the next few days, will chop 300+ professionals from PwC Advisory, at all levels, all geographies, all practices. Most have already seen the writing on the wall via forced ranking.  You are already on a “list” and I’m not talking a fun Twitter one.  You may be fighting it, thinking you can survive if you just find a project to take you, somewhere. You may even have been encouraged to go looking, just to be told, “Sorry, wrong number.”

Because that’s the way it works at PwC.  After putting themselves on a pedestal, telling the press and their peers at other firms they were better than everyone else, they’ve finally acknowledged that they have no idea how to fix the systemic problems in the practice, don’t know who will fix them, and don’t know when they will get fixed.  No amount of prancing around like pompous peacocks will change the fact no one is buying their act right now.

It can’t help that their Health Care Advisory practice was royally punked by Report-Gate. I never got an answer back from the PwC PR folks as to who, specifically, had the bright idea to whore themselves out for a few bucks to the insurance industry’s anti-reform lobby. This is the big time now and PwC was toast before the graphics department was done printing out those shiny booklets for the next conference.

It seems that none of the BearingPoint transfers-in will be cut.  That would be an admission of fault for a colossal, strategic mistake of going long systems integration consulting during one of the biggest corporate cost cutting periods in my more than twenty-five years of professional life.

And it looks like no partners will be part of the RIF parade, for now.  At least at PwC, they’re reducing those numbers by attrition instead – disgusted, demoralized, and defeated by massive cuts in compensation and shifting of accounts and responsibilities. All in the name of preserving the remaining spoils for the few at the top of the pyramid.  Just walk away with tails between your legs, fellas, and be glad you had the supreme privilege of working for Price, Waterhouse, Coopers, or Lybrand during your 15-25 year career. Oh, and don’t tell anyone. It would embarrass both of us and no one would be better for it.  There’s lots of CFO jobs around.  You may have to move your family to North Dakota…

Don’t think this is the last of the cuts at PwC. Once the rich “sons of a gun” at the top – more on that later in the week, including actual compensation figures – get a taste of blood, it’s easier and easier to justify anything to save their own skins.

They’ve done it before.  They have the playbook.

Let’s see how the PR guys spin this one…

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396 Responses »

  1. While I appreciate your level of interest in Big 4, and PwC namely, I am perplexed by how much time you spend on this. While some of the information may be accurate, much of it is speculative and misinformed. You may think you’re providing news and sharing insight, but you are actually creating panic and undo stress for people who need not be concerned. Lastly I find your or your editor’s choice of images distasteful and inconsistent with what you may think you’re providing for people. I recommend rechecking your source or more important challenging his/her personal motivation. On one postive note, the writing is at time humorous and can’t help but chuckle at the jabs.

  2. @Confused

    Not sure where the perplexity comes from. I’ve been doing this for three years. The blog, and my writing in general, has a wide readership, inside and outside the industry, and fills a void left by the ever declining, really more or less non-existent, coverage of the firms as an industry by the main stream media. It serves readers, so much so that I’v been quoted extensively and asked to write for those same media organizations. In the end it’s my opinion, my analysis, and sometimes my speculation and hypothesis.

    Take it or leave it.

    ” creating panic and undo stress for people who need not be concerned…” I think that the cuts (and the lawsuits and strategic mistakes…) that all the firms have made over the last three years leave many with good reason to be stressed and concerned and to crave information, from anywhere , that tells them the truth about their career, the firms and the choices they have. If you could man my phones and email for a week, you might hear it in their voice, feel it in the words they use to convey their disappointment, dismay, and in some cases desperation because their dreams have been crushed. And then there’s the alumni of the firms who are now customers… And then there’s the refugees here in Chicago from Arthur Andersen, not only former employees/partners but vendors and other stakeholders who see a ghost every time there’s a big lawsuit or fraud case that threatens the firms legally or financially.

    I know my sources and their motivations. They are the same as those of the thousands that comment on the blog and to me personally off line – they are trying to help others see the firms and their leadership for what they are: profit making organizations led by self-interested men with feet of clay.

    Glad you think I’m humorous at times but the humor is to amuse myself first and then to try to soften the blow, make it easier, for readers to digest the bitter pill of disillusionment. It’s kind of like wrapping my Rottweiler’s medicine in a a piece of filet. Before she knows it, she’s taken the pill and on her way to feeling better. As far as my choice of visuals, well, again, they amuse me. I enjoy the process of choosing just the right evocative image or music. Some of it is just an expression of my own interests and tastes. Makes it easier sometimes for me, too, to write what I know will be difficult for others to take.
    Francine

  3. The Big Four have long been riding the gravy train of unchecked action and unquestioned decision making. Why is this blog here? Because it’s needed. Because for too long corporate cultures that have been sick on the inside are allowed to continue on without any checks. Because companies like this gave firms they should have been auditing, and in turn helping them to run a responsible business, a free pass. And then when the slip shod job they’ve done is discovered, they audit the target firm into the ground, pin them down with costs and reviews, such that no questions of the terrible job the auditor was doing right along remains.

    Many of the big four are as culpable as other Wall Street firms in the current financial crisis. And it looks like at least one of them is going to die for it.

    The gravy train has pulled into the station.

  4. One day a Ph.D. candidate in Organizational Psych may do a post-mortem on the Big 4 during the period that ran from SOX (2002) through, say 2010. I foresee lots of tables and graphs, lots of quant analysis. One of the things I look forward to learning is how the total number of partnerships is determined. Is it based on revenue, on staff headcount, or what? Because I’m wondering how PwC (or another firm) can cut so many staff heads without touching the partner heads? Remember, in Advisory revenue is variable based on hours billed, not fixed as in Assurance.

    Let’s say average utilization is 69% — some are closer to 100% but others are down in the high 30’s or mid-40’s. So you RIF all the lower utilized staff and you are trading away your revenue in the name of cost cuts. Average billing rate of $300 x 2080 x 40% = $250,000 of lost revenue per head cut x 300 heads = $75 MILLION of lost revenue. Sure you are cutting labor & fringe costs, but not as much as you are cutting future revenue.

    So I’m wondering how PwC can give up in the neighborhood of $75 million or so, and hold partner headcount constant? I’m feeling bad for all those partners who are seeing their unit values crash.

    Fran, I completely agree with you that the motivation has to be preserving compensation at the top of the pyramid, since the “rank and file” partners would seem to be taking it in the shorts. Not sure which is worse, to be laid off and have to look for work, or to be locked into a partnership agreement and see your compensation fall … with nothing to be done about it.

    Dang. Bad times.

    – Tenacious T.

  5. @TT

    The partner numbers are actually going down everywhere, but in different ways . Stay tuned for my post tomorrow @Going_Concern about partner terminations/attrition/forced out activities.No body is locked into anything anymore… That’s a smaller and smaller percentage of “partners” at all the firms, and virtually non-existent at the next tier firms.

    Then Thursday I’ll be writing back on my blog about partner compensation, specifically at PwC.

    :)

    Francine

  6. @TT – don’t know about PwC, or anything beyond my particular practice. But think about the following:

    1) more cuts were made at the director level than anywhere else
    2) many partners were dismissed – rather quietly though
    3) if you have 25 people averaging 60% utilized vs. 20 people at 100% what revenue are you losing by spreading their low utilization across the others
    4) we have not observed that people with low utilization are by definition the ones who are let go — low utilization will be targetted for those who have low utilization for reasons such as (i) skillset is no longer applicable to the changing business needs, or (ii) performance is such that managers/directors select others who are perceived as performing better.

    My experience — those that remain (and only 1 was laid off, and 2 were let go for performance issues — many others left due to attrition… in my office/practice) are mostly near 100% with some at higher numbers. But that is due to attrition and changing business needs. The skill set we need more of now is not the same as it was a year ago — so people with those skills (nationwide) are overbooked… while others are at 80-90%. We will be hiring, took on new hires recently as well and are looking to hire more… but the profile of our new hires has changed.

  7. I am always curious about self acclaimed writers, teachers, experts and sorts who convince themselves they have either a duty or responsibility to an imaginary fan base. I think at times you have news to share about the industry or big 4 firms that are useful, but most of the time the debth of your insight is over shadowed by how personal your point of views are about the firms and its leadership. I read the blogs at times and wonder if it is time for you to move on?

  8. @ 7 Anonymous

    Now you’re being funny.

    Francine

  9. It’s official. Fran, you were 100% correct. I can’t verify the number of layoffs you claimed but I can verify that layoffs are in fact going on at PwC. Today, in an east coast office I belong to, a few people got the Partner meetig invite that pretty much means they are getting laid off and I’m sure there are more to come that I just haven’t heard about yet. Folks, this is a reality so give Fran the acknowledgment she deserves.

  10. @9

    I hate being right about these kinds of things.

    Thanks for reminding me of the sure sign: The unplanned partner meeting invite.

    Francine

    PS: PwC folks, you’re welcome to connect with me on Linked In.

  11. Yes, it’s true. Meeting tomorrow with Partner and HR. I can’t wait to hear their rational and how I would be a “better fit” elsewhere…

  12. Anony @ 6 –

    My assumption, right or wrong, was that the 20 100% utilized people would be 100% utilized regardless of what happened to the 5 who were laid off, because — as you point out — people are not fungible and skillsets vary.

    But I’m not going to debate with you. If you want to be taken seriously (by me at least) you need to quit posting as Anonymous. The only difference between posting with a made-up name (e.g., Tenacious Truman) and Anonymous is that there’s accountability for one’s posts.

    – Tenacious T.

  13. i just got the unplanned partner invite. guess i’m a goner!!!!! i’ll let you know tomorrow if it’s true….

  14. For those at PwC who were paying attention, this has been evident for many months. Why did all of the other Big 4 have mass layoffs and PwC was spared? Why were certain individuals that were deemded low performers for many years let go after the annual review process when in previous years they would have been retained? SOX delayed the inevitable for a firm where many of the salesman aren’t really salesman and a spiderweb of administration and overhead has handcuffed those who are.

  15. What is hysterical is that PwC tried to execute this “charade” of “we’re not laying off people like the other Big Four.” They did it all right, and will continue to do so throughout the rest of this year, but tried to do it “under the radar.”

    The other interesting news is that PwC conducted a survey a few months back with their clients / potential clients and were voted “most arrogant” of all the Big Four. While not a surprise, the Advisory leadership was aghast in amazement.

    The BearingPoint transaction was lauded for all the revenue it brought – but now that these engagements are either closing or being terminated, it’s time to get those BP folks to work – not an easy task for leadership who hasn’t had an executable strategy for years.

    MUCH unrest at the Partner level, with a substantial percentage having to give back shares. Every “man” for himself. They are imploding under current leadership.

  16. Anony @ 14 –

    Yes, this has been coming for a while. But to post that PwC was “spared” from layoffs is misleading. PwC has, in fact, been laying off staff one-by-one, quietly, over the past 18 months; and even before that PwC Advisory separated more than 100 Directors in late 2007.

    Anyway, to my way of thinking the problem isn’t that PwC didn’t have good salesmen, it has been that the expectations have been too high. One can’t sell what the market doesn’t want to buy.

    In my view.

    – Tenacious T.

  17. I got the invite too. Will report back tomorrow.

  18. @6 – to take your point 3 a little further… the firms don’t pay overtime. So the excess work can just be done by making everyone who remains work at over 100% utilization. Revenue stays the same, costs go down, partner profit up. I guarantee that’s the math the firms use.

  19. I can confirm this is true, the partners are in a frenzy, I’m sure there will be more to come, for a firm that was so proud about no layoffs and how the lack of compensation this past year will save jobs..I can’t believe they are going to do this now…I wonder how they will get around this.

  20. For you PWCers with the dreaded invite – I’m sorry to hear that, and I wish you the best of luck. I hope you snatch up good positions in corporate as they slowly reappear on the market.

    TT@16 – so true about unrealistic expectations. At D&T – I believe it was 2007 – we had the “not a good year” speech during year end discussions because although we had double-digit revenue growth – I want to say 12-13% – we had “planned” on closer to 17% based on agressive targets after 2006. That sounded ludicrous even before the market tanked, and is just asinine in retrospect.

  21. @18 – What if you layoff enough people that when the remaining people are all 100% chargeable, they still can’t pull in as much revenue as the pre-layoff amount. I foresee that happening to my former group. Oh, well. I’m glad I’m not a partner. . . because . . . I’m on a boat!!

  22. Announcement from Moritz this evening is 275 is the number to go.

  23. @Coach

    The number mentioned on the conference call led by McIlwain Monday night was 325.
    We’ll see.
    Francine

  24. Francine, which pwc partner are you sleeping with to get this “inside info”? Sounds to me like you’re full of it.

  25. @lolz

    If you read anything I write you’d know that PwC partners are definitely not my type. LOL
    Francine

  26. It’s a wonder this business is still around. They hire a bunch of new hires into Advisory, with no skills, and no desire to do any of the services we offer, but cut a 3rd year associate because he’s not clawing his way to the top. What really pisses me off is, they don’t tell any of the directors/managers that they plan on cutting their staff, and sold projects will not be delayed, current projects will be thrown into chaos. And then we are left with people who can’t do the job, so we have to focus on getting them up to speed, which takes away from time I should be selling to clients.

    If PwC sold stock, I would short it! And I would short it big! Let the death spiral begin.

  27. Francine – Current Pwc Director here in another line of service. I can only tell you that my Advisory friends are “freaking out” by what has been published by you. You have definitely made your mark with this posting. The level of unrest that you have caused should make you proud. One of my friends told me last night that he heard that one of the Advisory Directors is so stressed out that he was talking about taking his life if he loses his job. If that happens, the sky is the limit for you and your little blog!

    I am not a complete PwC clone who thinks that we do no wrong, but for you to make the point that all the partners are money grabbing aholes is completely baseless and shows how little you really know about the profession and the people that run the organizations. There are very few of them that do not show empathy and genuine care for the people..yes there are the occasional few that make me cringe, but they are really the exception rather than the rule. What I have learned over the past couple of days of reading your blog is that someone, somewhere pissed you off and your goal is to make everyone as miserable as you. The fact is that PwC is no different than many organizations and I am sure the Advisory leadership is spending countless hours making sure they treat any affected individuals with care. What you have done is make everyone feel unease and for that you are no better than the paparazzi looking to make a splash and get your 15 minutes of fame. I hope you are happy.

    Had you let this RIF run its normal course, it would have been done confidentially and all affected parties would be notified on the same day and only those impacted would have the stress. But you like to cause unrest and panic…as it is obviously what drives you. You were like a little kid announcing this on your blog Tuesday morning….”look at what I know….I’m am so important!”

    I am sure you will come back with some pithy little response to my entry…trying to laugh it off. But the fact remains that you have done harm to so many people and their families that any response you could come up with is not worth the internet space that you will take up.

  28. Let’s revisit PwC’s “strategy” over the years. Sell of the consulting practice, “distinguish” itself from others by saying, “We don’t do SAP or Oracle. . .” Roll tape 3 years forward, AFTER the non-compete with IBM. Ohhhhhhhhhh, we do SAP, we do Oracle integration/implementation. (We just don’t do it as well or often because we had to BUY a bunch of people from IBM, Entology, etc. and overpay and have almost nothing to speak of for over 2 years.)

    Last year, the “leader” Carter Pate had the gall to suggest it wasn’t a failed “strategy” on Pujadas’ part, it was poor execution by the hundreds of Partners and Directors and he expected 15% growth from everyone! Therefore, I can only imagine that these same Partners and Directors must have executed EXCEEDINGLY badly because surely Pujadas’ dead on strategy certainly didn’t fail 2 years in a row.

    Director has it right, given the leadership of Pujadas, McIlwain, Browning, Koehneman, the death spiral has just begun. New staff billing rates are almost $200 per hour, and given the worst economy in 70 years, PwC had the audacity to try to raise rates last year! Carter Pate continually lambasted people (after a near global financial collapse) that falling RPH was not acceptable. Lots of Partners were hoping McCain would win the Presidency – so Carter Pate would leave the firm! Now they’re just waiting to cash out ASAP. . .

  29. Francine,
    I dont really understand the general attitude of your article. You seem to be relishing an event that will put people with families out of a job.
    Auf Wiedersehen?? A firing squad?? If you have an issue with PwC the Company, so be it, but whats the reason for all the insenitivity on what could be an awful time for a large number of people?
    If I was one of the people in front of the firing squad and I read your article, I would hunt you down

  30. @John @PwC Insider

    I don’t relish having to give bad news. But when one of your own gives me that information in advance, I believe it’s important to give people information so they can plan. If anyone is “freaking out”, staff or a Partner that has to give bad news, that says they were woefully unprepared, had very little understanidng of how the business really works, do not really know their leadership, and need to get their head out of the sand, their tears dried, and figure out what’s next for them.

    Yes, it can feel like your world has shattered up around you. But you can displace that feeling in an instant by not dwelling on it and taking action. Waiting to see what someone tells you to do, what advice they give you when they have a vested interest in you going away quietly, buying whatever sob story they give you, including that you were not a fit, is a passive and weak postion that will not serve you well in this environment.

    So, think what you will about me and my motives. The motivation came from one of your own who is much wiser and much more knowledgeable about what’s going on and felt very strongly that people needed to wake up and smell the coffee, however bitter it was. You need to know so you can make the right decisions. That has always been my poilcy on this blog and will continue to be. To PwC, who is now having to address this discomfort amongst their staff who thought they were better than everyone else, I can only respond, “Welcome to the club.”

    And @PwCInsider – I have never painted all PwC, or all Big 4, partners with the same brush. Some of my best friends are partners in the firms. In fact, you must have missed my piece yesterday at Goingconcern.com where I strongly sympathize with their lot. But many partners are really just employees themselves, powerless order-takers, who may have strong technical expertise, but have sold their soul for what they see as the ultimate prize. Very few will get anything like what they could get if they worked for their clients. Or maybe not. If they would rather sit back and coast, with a sense of entitlement for making it to the bottom rung of another very complicated, political, and large bureaucracy, well then, so be it.

    Francine
    PS. Some have called or written on an individual basis and asked me about their situation. I am ready to respond to anyone on a confidential basis. My motivation is to empower you to choose what’s right for you and your family, including sticking with your firm if that makes sense.

    And if anyone wants to blame the messenger instead, they’ll have to get past my Rottweiler.

  31. Francine:
    “Auf Wiedersehen”, “Rottweiler”, etc. I think I know what your issue is…

  32. @FranSuks

    Actually, I was thinking of using “Sayonara.” And I use Spanish too much since it’s my second language. Really no hidden agenda on that other than the tie in with Veteran’s Day, which used to be called Armistice Day. Look it up.
    Francine

  33. Your articles strike me at bitter…..move on and live on.

  34. bewegen Sie sich mit Ihrem Leben – translate this

  35. I actually do not work at PwC.
    And I dont have any issues about you reporting on this, so not really blaming the messenger here.
    My question was simply how you like it, if this was the worst day of your life due to losing your job, and you found out about it through an article featuring a firing squad??
    I just don’t get it.

  36. Wow, the PWc people are really bitter here. Guys, take it easy. Did you ever read the thousands’ comments about Uncle D’s layoff? Welcome to the real world, my friends. I am happy to note that PWc is no better than Deloitte. It is your turn now.

    And come on, be easy with Francine. She is just the messenger here. We Deloitte people only gave the finger to our leaders.

  37. @John

    First it’s not the worst day of your life. If you take the personal out of it, it goes much better. Not easy. The stupidity of leading people on so long is frustrating, but you can overcome it. It can be bad, but you’ll get over it. And you will be better for it.

    You will find out about your situation from your “boss.” Is that, in PwC’s case, a “Coach”, a “Relationship Partner” some poor designated partner who has to do the dirty work, or some poor HR person who goes through the process like a robot and makes you feel that you have no say or choices in the matter?

    Reread what’s been written here before about how to handle those meetings. Don’t sign anything you haven’t read. The higher up you are or if you have an employment agreement, even if it’s terms in your original offer letter you signed about severance in the event of a termination “not for cause,” then consult with an attorney. If you are a member of a protected class – woman, pregnant, over 40, a minority, etc or all of the above – there are special terms and conditons that apply. Do not be hustled out like cattle.

    If necessary, call or email me and I can provide you with names of appropriate counsel.

    I am not going to apologize for my choice of images. I’m making a point. A strong one. Be prepared. It would be uncharacteristic of me to do otherwise.
    Francine

  38. Francine – congratulations. The level of negative commenting correlates with increased readership, and in your case, confirms you’ve struck a nerve with the right people. Not that most of the new commenters are adding to the discussion, but hopefully they’ll at least buy some books from the FT advertisement while they’re stopping by.

  39. Just got the news that it is official. One down in Texas already. I know of 2 more in my office that have the meeting in a few hours. What I’ve heard is that people are being informed today, and have until the 20th to wrap up projects and stuff. At least they are not being escorted out by security today.

    To everyone who is upset about the pictures etc on this blog: Get over it. Yes it sucks to find out about getting fired from a blog. Maybe, just maybe, PwC should have been the one to tell us. That would have been the best way. But instead they wanted to be sneaky about it. I say big thanks to Francine, at least through her some people are getting advanced notice and have a couple hours to prepare themselves. I know I appreciate it!

  40. Francine, while I can appreciate your desire to keep your collegues at PwC informed about what you think is coming, your message doesn’t have the tone of one who’s really looking out for her own. Your message reads like one from a disgruntled employee with an ax to grind — almost like you’re enjoying this unfortunate situation. What’s the likelihood you’re one being lined up before the firing squad?

  41. Was laid off from PwC at the end of Sept. It was a preceded by a “touch base” invite with the Partner. There are other jobs out there everyone – leaving PwC is not the end of the world.

  42. With every blog I am relieved you are not with PwC anymore. Its been sometime….might you want to move on?

  43. PWCinsider @27 says:

    “One of my friends told me last night that he heard that one of the Advisory Directors is so stressed out that he was talking about taking his life if he loses his job. If that happens, the sky is the limit for you and your little blog! ”

    You’re pathetic dude. Just b/c FM wants to inform the public of event that will be initiated by one of your own, you’re blaming her for it. How would it be any different if that helpless director friend finds out the news from someone else. By the way, the fact that the director will take his life if he gets the boot is a sad indication of his level of maturity, both as a professional and a person, in how he handles life situations. (I’m assuming this director is a grown adult right, I mean, he’s not 18. Is he?). Also as FM said, even if layoffs take place and it impacts you or your colleagues doesn’t mean it’s the end of their existence. In fact, as many have posted on other layoff blogs here, it could be start of a happier beginning.

    FM, don’t let these bozo clowns stop you from doing what you’re doing. You’re providing a valuable service to all of us by keeping us informed of what’s really going on – not only within the firms, but in the profession at large. Doesn’t seem like corruption, greed, unfairness, and nontransparency will take a break anytime soon so why should you? ;-)

  44. Folks, don’t shoot the messenger. You’re stupid if your realization is less than 60%, sales are less than $1 million, and you don’t “own a client, a solution or a market.” PwC is a legal Ponzi scheme.

    You’re either a Partner or you’re not – plain and simple. Fewer and fewer partners are out their building relationships, coming up with new ideas. Look around!!!

    You’ve either got a line on the code as engagement partner, director, etc., or you’re out. Partners don’t mentor any more, they align with people who’ll make them money so their shares will increase in value. This “distinctive people experience” is what several hundred will experience now, and several hundred experienced since ARC meetings last Spring, and several hundred more will experience next ARC.

    Unless you’re in a new / growing practice, like cost reduction, or Healthcare IT, you’re at risk.

    You need to IMMEDIATELY network with friends, clients, leverage whatever relationships and friendships you have. It’s going to suck trying to find a job during the holiday season, but hopefully the market will continue to improve, albeit gradually. Be prepared for sticker shock in terms of salary when you look in private industry.

    What I think is hysterical is that this “little” blog has all the PwC Advisory Partners in a tizzy! Guess the Pulse survey scores will go to crap – or maybe they took the survey in October, and terminations in November. Hmmmmmmmmmm, that would be ONE strategic move they would make!

    Don’t believe the pablum. PwC is a cold, harsh place to work – you find out who your friends are after you leave, and even after 7 years, the list of people who try to help, rather than give the standard “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” can be counted with thumbs. Get your severance, be prepared to wait 10 weeks for your last expense check, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out! Distinctive!!!

  45. Multiple corporations announced far more substantial layoffs today. [Microsoft-800; GM-7,000; Johnson & Johnson-7,000]. To suggest you wrote this petty, bnoxious piece as though you are the one looking out for the 300 people losing thier job is disingenuous. The news gave you the ammunition to grind your axe a little more. Christmas came early for you this year.

  46. Having worked both at PwC and Deloitte, I was amazed how long PwC postponed their lay-offs. Deloitte did not hesitate to sack folks to keep the year-end bonuses intact. At least the partners at PwC tried other alternatives prior to lay-offs. Lay-offs at Deloitte have been happening across all practices since September of 2008. This shouldn’t have been a surprise.

  47. PWC employees work p 12 hour days sometimes 7 days a week. They have been asked time and time again for complete loyalty to the firm. And now, when times are tough for all of us, the company is eliminating some of the hardest working people. Hypocracy is an understatement.

  48. I got a whiff that I dodged the cut. And honestly, I feel cheated. I want my severance and an excuse to leave this place on good terms.

  49. @45

    This blog is about the business of the Big 4 audit firms. It’s not about “layoffs” in general, or finance in general, or even professional services in general. I do not typically write about public companies except as it relates to their auditors and the business of the firms. This is likely the only place you will see this news because PwC will likely not put out a press release. (Although I strongly encourage them to do so.) The only press releases that have been issued during the time I’ve been writing this blog regarding all the cuts at the firms is the first big “all in one” cut of 900 + in August of last year by Deloitte (then they stopped issuing any announcement even as they continued to cut) and one by KPMG referring to a few hundred folks later that fall.

    Transparency on the part of the firms, especially to acknowledge the cuts as business related and to take away the unfair stigma of mass cuts being performance related at this point, would be a great service to the staff. Their clients admitted when their forecasts were off, when they over hired, when they lost customers, when business conditions are negative. The Big 4 firms should, too.

    Francine

  50. “Their clients admitted when their forecasts were off, when they over hired, when they lost customers, when business conditions are negative. The Big 4 firms should, too.”

    Clients are publicly traded, PwC is not.

  51. @50

    Obviously. And so they can hide behind a cloak of secrecy with no demand by even regulators for more info, in spite of their claims of being too poor to pay “catastrophic” litigation claims. Interestingly, the US firm compares very unfavorably to many others in their network when it comes to transparency, accountability, honesty with their employees and their own “partners.” In the UK, audit firms issue independently audited, IFRS-basis financial statements, including salary info and detailed metrics.

    Barking up wrong tree. Go back and read some more and then you’ll have context.
    Francine

  52. @FM – John wasn’t let go — read his/her post.

  53. @52 Yes, I realize that. He is not even PwC. I was directing my comment to his statement beginning, “how would you like if…” My answer is directed at the folks he thinks he is speaking for.

    Francine

  54. Everyone needs to stop picking on FM for the blog that she posted… this information is crucial and we all deserve to know.. as a PwC employee I want to know what is going on… if she wouldn’t have posted it some partner would have told someoen and that persone would have told someone and it would have trickled down at least by her posting it we all have an idea and can prepare for the worst….

  55. 52 – eagerly awaiting your witty response to 53.

  56. You all need to keep your day jobs if you have any… this is pathetic. I feel like we are back in highschool, ratting someone out, or playing that famous telephone game. I guess this blog served its purpose, which was trying to read something entertaining while popping my zit. Thanks!

  57. Just as an FYI, 300 people is about .7% of the U.S. PwC workforce and it is no different then some other multinational closing one office in one city. While I can’t speak for all, at least in my group at PwC we are tired of carrying around dead weight. Most of the underperformers in my group that are being coached out are legitimately being fired for performance reasons, not a RIF in disguise. They either aren’t performing to expectations (have a bad rep for poor work), are underutilized (which is usually directed by their past performance), aren’t pursuing their CPA or are just generally checked/burnt out. It is time for them to move along. At this point the group is finally starting to shape up as people slowly leave. I don’t think there is anything wrong with letting people go that aren’t meeting performance expectations. As a final note, in the internal communications that have come through yes the firm has said they aren’t using a strategy of layoffs, but they never said there would never be any of them. I applaud them for trying to keep the staff, but in business things change and companies react, it’s the only way to survive. (or you could go out like GM)

    Now where’s the next juicy lawsuit so you can again try to predict the end of all accounting firms around the world? Still waiting for that one… Maybe next time advertising revenue is getting low?

  58. Everyone pissed at FM are the same people who pull the blindside with the “Catch up”, “Update”, “Busy Season Schedule” meeting planner and want to fire (or “RIF” – lol) people hoping that they aren’t prepared so that they can sign the severance before they have time to think and don’t make things uncomfortable.

    Thanks for this blog, Francine

  59. Someone just tried to post a comment that broke all the rules and so it was deleted.

    1) Strictly personal attack (on me or anyone else, especially if it’s not someone who is a public figure or leader of the firm.)
    2) Facts are clearly wrong. (Although if it’s not about me, I may print and then correct the writer. But I have no motivation to publish incorrect facts about myself.)
    3) Poor spelling or cursing. (Although I am more tolerant of this if an interesting point is made.)

    Some of you may have forgotten or never fully realized that this is my blog, I moderate all comments, and I decide what gets posted. Criticism of the content of a post, correction of facts and honest disagreement with me or each other is encouraged. That’s why I’m answering those back. Ad hominem attacks won’t be tolerated. Funny it’s pretty much only the PwC folks that do that…
    Francine

  60. i was laid off today …. i wonder how many others are out there?!!!

  61. Confirmed. I was axed today and appreciated the advanced notice from the blog so I could bring in an extra bag this morning to take things home.

    Folks, the blog is like listening to the weather forecast the night before…….

  62. @60 and 61

    Glad this could help in some small way. Good luck. Be sure to connect on Linked In.
    Francine

  63. @55 — was never even trying to be witty… sorry I’m still not trying to be witty here. Just found @FM’s post confusing and now I find her clarification perfectly acceptable.

    As for the rest — it is interesting, when D&T was hot into layoffs all D&T employees (most all) laid off or not came out guns blazing against D&T. But PwC folk include a lot more defending the firm. FM – didn’t you once say that PwC people were strangely silent on this blog and you thought they were brainwashed into it — or something like that?

    As for @55 — again there is no wit here — I just think it was an interesting observation FM had and the response of PwC folk today is quite intriguing.

  64. @63

    I have said many times before that PwC folks are the least participative in terms of comments, at least based on identifying your firm or reacting to posts about your firm. (I will let you all tell me why you think that is. )

    However, keep in mind, I get lots of calls and emails too. And if you looked at my Linked In connections you would see plenty of PwC professionals both active and alumni that consider me a useful connection. I know and continue to know the most about PwC because I worked there most recently and did make some friends. (Ha) Those people and new friends from the firm I’ve made since continue to be extrmenly supportive of my efforts and, in this case and others, provide me with many updates, tips, and answers to my questions so I can stay current. Finally, if I were to look at my traffic, the company with the most hits in three years, from their firm network no less, is PwC. They may not say much but they are out there and clearly very interested in what I’m writing. I could care less why or if any of them in particular disagrees.

    My satisfaction comes from the one-on-one conversations I have with those that help me and those that feel they are being helped.
    They make my day on a daily basis.
    Francine

  65. Were PwC not a great environment with smart people and great clients, people would not be as concerned or angry to not be part of it. Life has its ups and downs and I wish for those who may be going through any hardship during this tough economic times, hope, faith and a litttle luck. That hope is extended to anyone facing a loss of a job or lost a job recently. Stay hopeful.

  66. Two senior mangers laid off this week. Lots of people within the last month already have or are thinking about leaving.

    Thanks for the info FM. Appreciate the info and the comments they bring.

  67. got fired today. f

  68. The Problem is Francine isnt giving any real facts. She is just writing about what she thinks is going to happen. She does not work at PWC, she doesnt have any real info. Noone knows if what she says is true or not and if it is true, how many people are going to be laid off. You say 300+ but noone on here knows the truth. And if they did lay off 300 people out of the 30,000+ employees they have im sure they did everything possible to try and keep everyone they could. People need to realize this is a bad economy, there are going to be layoffs everywhere and you need to save money when you can and be ready if it does happen to you.

  69. Two people in NYC (one an Associate, another a Director) were offered a shot to move to WFP (wahsington federal practice) to avoid the cut.

    Yay deficit!

  70. @sadtosee

    If you say people are being let go of today, but are given the option of staying until the 20th to wrap up projects etc. Then isnt that over 2 weeks notice? and yes it does suck to find out you’re getting fired from a blog. If francine would of just let things go as planned then your coach or manager would of broke the news and given you a few weeks to make preparations.

  71. I was laid off from Deloitte early this year. Due to Francine’s blog, I was prepared. I knew what to expect and what to ask for. Plus, I had already removed the important items from my office. So, thanks Francine.

    As for PwC’s BS of not laying off, come on! They even had their precious recruiters (e.g., Tax Search) espouse their BS about not laying off. If it was sincere, I commend their efforts. Regardless, the layoffs seem to be here to stay and will continue, despite Francine’s blog. Blaming Francine will not make the layoffs go away. Best the thing to do is to post your experience and keep your colleagues inform. Sorta like unionizing!

    These firms (all of them) shouldn’t be able to go on campus and espouse their BS with no accountability. Deloitte was voted the best company to start a career. All 1st year associates in my function were laid off. I bet they would disagree.

  72. Yep, definitely true. I also got the axe today. The total lay off number that the partner I met mentioned is 275. Best of luck to the rest of current PwCers.

  73. Francine, thanks — saw the post yesterday (Wednesday) and was able to mentally prepare myself for that unannounced partner meeting today. Neither I, nor anyone I talked with, could put rhyme or reason as to how the decisions were made as to who was saying goodbye, and who would be spared. Almost every name I heard from our local office was a high performer and had 80%+ util. over the first half of this year (I looked it up in GFS). I smell Bearing Point. It’s almost like hiring illegal immigrants — cheap labor. Even though I’ve been a “1″ coming out of ARC the last four years and just received a bonus not even 2 months ago when salaries were frozen, today I was thanked for my service to the “firm” and showed the door.

    The comment thread on this post is actually the most insightful piece of info about the way PwC management has changed over the past few years and how there is never an admit to failure on their part. Funny, I was originally drawn to this firm for how open and transparent they were about everything. I guess when times are tough, true colors shine through.

    Not bitter, but just disappointed. The propaganda has worn off I suppose.

  74. @27, so are you saying that this director would not kill himself, if he were laid off and had not read Francine’s blog in advance of the layoffs? Or, are you more concerned with Francine covering the suicide, after PwC lays off the guy?

  75. where is the Partner’s compensation blog???

  76. At Deloitte, those who were high salaried or threatening to any particular partner were targeted. In addition, those who had no strong alliances with decision makers were also targeted. Some the biggest idiots who would mop the floors if asked (due to complete lack of talent, other than @sskissing) are still there. Partners took clients, or directed work, away from certain individuals to give to others. They made a list of those they wanted to keep and slowly directed work away from those they didn’t. Minorities were hit hard. Then, Barry did some piece for a magazine and reiterated Deloitte’s support of minorities. Priceless!

  77. @75 I’m working on it.

    @72 Yeah that’s the strangest thing. A few partners called me today and said that Moritz sent out an email with the 275 number while McIlwain told the Advisory partners Monday night that it would be 325. You see, the Advisory guys had not told the audit partners anything so when the blog post went up, the Audit partners had to respond to concerns from their people. So the partners had not reconciled their numbers or gotten their stories straight. Looks like they’ve accelerated the process given the leaks.

    Had to delete another comment. Something about rejected bowel movements…Some kind of PwC scat humor?
    Francine

  78. what practices within Advisory are being affected?

  79. So basically, because of the leaks and your blog, people are getting fired earlier then pwc planned. Thanks Francine!

  80. @79 I think given the leaks, they saw the error of their ways in doing everything all in one day. Given their previous aversion to “layoffs” and desire to stay under the radar, I would not have advised that if I were in a position to advise. Now they can let them dribble out and still play the “performance ” card with no press release and all of the pompous asses can say that only the dregs were flushed and all is still right with the world.

    Except you know and I know and they know what they’re doing. And it’s wrong. And when it’s your turn, and it will be, you will, maybe, finally realize that.

    Francine

  81. 275 is low. Recall that Deloitte started with 900 and never stopped with their attempt to “right size” the firm that they “wrong sized” in the first place. Ha ha! Not sure if they ever got to the “right size.”

  82. 57 – Thanks, Winthorp, glad to know you’ve shed off the “dead weight,” aka human beings.

    When you consider the Big 4 layoffs of the past year-and-change, or know much about how these decisions work, there are lots of office politics, a lack of objective criteria to evaluate performance, and layoffs under the guise of “performance based terminations.” I have to think you’re actually trying to maintain that facade, or has PwC really made you so blind to what’s happening?

    Just think about this – you’re saying after a historic economic crisis, that D&T and others all had massive layoffs, and PwC is still able in late 2009 to cut “deadweight”? So you avoided all the problems of the past year, AND you were doing so well, you kept around poor performers up to this point! You said it yourself, they were .7% of the U.S. workforce. If that’s the story you want to sell, more power to you.

    But I think it is much more plausible that you’re cutting good people because the economy sucks. Why not just say so, instead of rubbing salt in the wounds of decent, talented people? With friends like you …

  83. Fran, do you ever get a feeling of deja vu? I’ve been following (and participating in) this blog for a year now (lurker hiding as Anonymous before that) and it seems to me that so many posts in this thread are rehashes of other posts. Some individuals might want to take a moment and review, say, the Deloitte-focused thread(s) or the prior PwC threads, before going off half-cocked on this latest PwC thread.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure it has to be amusing to be accused of messing up a well-crafted RIF that would have been handled “confidentially” but for your intemperate and ill-timed reveal. Yeah, it’s all your fault, doncha know? I thought about rebutting that post but why bother? It’s been said before, more than once, and people who care enough to do some due diligence can see the prior rebuts. The ones that don’t do the homework are worth the effort of rebutting once again, so why bother?

    Here’s the thing, and I can’t get away from it. PwC is not alone but they stand out in the scheme to down-rank otherwise acceptable performers in order to disguise the RIF and call it performance-related. PwC is not alone but they stand out in the scheme to disguise large RIFs by treating them as one-off individual separations. Let me say this clearly: today’s Advisory RIF is not different from the past 18 months except in terms of size and the general announcement by Dana prior to its implementation. With respect to performance ranking, PwC stacked the deck last year when they changed the rankings and ranking process, and it was clear what they were doing. PwC has been working this for nearly two years, whether as part of general contingency planning or as an active strategy (I don’t know which). My message to those being RIF’d today is simple: you are not alone, and it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of your leadership.

    I know what I know from calls and emails with many PwC Managers, Sr. Managers, Directors and Managing Directors who’ve “moved on” during that timeframe. I know this because I have lunches and exchange emails with people currently employed at PwC, in all 3 Lines of Service. I know this because I have looked at changes to LinkedIn profiles. My statement is fact-based and not speculative in any way.

    Were one of a cynical bent, one might smell a conspiracy to violate the WARN Act, but hey, what do I know about such things?

    I don’t have a count on the number of times “Tenacious Truman” has posted on this blog — I often think it’s too many (and I’m sure there are several regular readers who agree with that assessment). It’s been roughly a year since my “good-bye Big 4″ guest post and nothing has really changed at the firms. People are still treated like chattel, whether at Deloitte which demands 125% utilization as the mark of acceptable performance, or at PwC whose leadership has never really been held accountable (publicly anway) for its long string of management blunders. KPMG and EY have their own issues, and have had their own layoffs. I continue to be struck by the sense of powerlessness the individual has at the firm, the lack of a clear chain of command for elevation of important issues, and the role played by HR in protecting the vulnerable flanks (as opposed to actually focusing on, you know, managing humans).

    It makes me weary to read the same posts over and over; I can only imagine what goes through your mind. I’m tired of seeing the “it’s a for-profit business, what did you expect” and the “only losers get RIF’d” and the “partners really care and did everything they could before resorting to this regretted action” posts. Yesterday Deloitte, today PwC, tomorrow … TBD. Again, I feel this way just being a semi-regular contributor.

    So I think I’ll take a rest for awhile. Maybe you can post another link to my guest blog of late 2008, so that people can get all riled up again in their righteous freemarket anger when they read that my proposed solution was to unionize the staff and engage in collective bargaining. I still feel that is the single most important change that could address the lack of equality between partner and employee at the Big 4 firms. Not that I actually have any hope of that happening any time soon.

    Auf Wiedersehen, Fran.

    – Tenacious T.

    P.S. Does anybody know if Dana is still boxing under a pro coach for his exercise? Or do the demands of the new role give him enough of a pugilistic workout? Just wondering ….

  84. @TT

    Yeah, Thanks. It is a little tiresome to have to repeat and keep pointing folks back to what happened at Deloitte, for example, just a year ago. But that’s what I do. Actually I’ve noticed that it seems some don’t eve read the posts, just the comments. The can get the comments via RSS feed and never look at the underlying context, or read anything else including my bio or know that there is an author/moderator here. I feel this because I here some refer to this as a “board” as in a message board. I sometimes feel I should be posting more in the comments but I’m often all talked out after doing a long post.

    Not.

    Your contributions are always welcome. And if anyone would actually like to read a little content/context, I suggest you reread what TT wrote as a guest post a while back. It’s a great education.
    http://retheauditors.com/2008/12/01/music-for-chameleons-a-visitors-view-of-the-firms/

    Francine

  85. the regular readers need you, man. screw these trolls, they were all linked here by a colleague, and dont know/can’t appreciate context.

    Francine, maybe you should just have a forum section for each firm where flamewars can happen and rumors spread, so the actual ideas stay in the blog.

  86. I personally would like to thank you for your posting. I don’t understand why people are blasting you for your information. I would rather know what to expect up ahead rather than be caught off gaurd. People are going to be stressed out whether they find out from reading this posting or find out when their number gets called. We have been told so many times that “they” will let us know what’s going on ahead of time but it has all been a lie! I have not been with the firm long but have been there long enough to see the writting on the wall. Here I thought PwC was a “Great Place to Work” & a special company to work for only to find that they are just like the rest of “Corporate America”. You can’t trust them because they lie, use you, then step right over you.
    Well, Francine you were so right about everything except that the word got out a lil early. You know, it amazes me how we were just informed by one of the “Top” partners that there was no need to get upset or worked up about layoffs because they are not even thinking about that right now & that no one has said anything to him about any layoffs. Hmmm, hard to believe conidering he is responsible for this region!
    Well, thanks again Francine for the heads up! I will be riding this wave until the end.

  87. It’s interesting to note that the people chastising FM are the ones who still have a job while those that were let go are supporting and thanking her for the info. I also got invited to one of those meetings, albeit with a different firm, but reading what was going on at other firms helped me prepare and get a bit of a jump on the job search before they officially notified me.

    To all those people who feel that it’s wrong to post this kind of info on a blog, when it’s your turn then I’m sure you will appreciate the advance notice.

  88. @85

    Forums… Yeah that’s the ticket. Then maybe there’d be a place for comments like I just deleted from PwC San Jose that used language that made even me blush. I though you California folks were mellow. Except “anorexic”. I think that was a compliment. Does your boss know you’re posting from the firm network using such language? Maybe I’d better start making some calls.
    Francine

  89. Hi everyone,

    PwCer here. I’m a manager, been with PwC for 4+ years. Joined as a starry-eyed staff from a B4 competitor. I drank and genuinely relished the Koolaid but have become a cynic with respect to all of the B4 over the past year. To be clear: If you asked me a year ago, I would have NEVER quit PwC.

    Something has changed – radically. Over the past year, it seems like all the great partners (technical realists with social skills – they do exist, that’s what I loved so much working here) have finally succumbed to economic pressures and the powers-that-be.

    Gone are the days when you could laugh at the Dilbert scenarios created by HR. They’ve now invented a bunch of metrics that only the non-technical powers-that-be can appreciate: daily time sheets, “touchpoints” (5-10+ forced meetings with clients) per month to sell new stuff, as well as the increased workday requirement from 8 to 10 hours (while the 10-hour workday is not an official requirement, it is by all means implied and enforced). If you deviate on the admin side, you’re on the roster to be fired.

    That’s all you are measured by these days, meaningless and contentless goals dreamed up by the marketing/HR folks who have no idea of the technical skills it takes to get the job done. And that’s my problem with PwC these days – it’s all about getting the troops to sell, sell, sell.

    So, the powers-that-be are the ones who are in charge of layoffs, and they have bowed to the marketing folks. They need metrics to justify the fact that some people need to go. Since HR can’t judge technical skills, they’ve come up with other metrics. As FM and a bunch of other commenters noted, this is done under the guise of “performance based” layoffs. What I have experienced in my group is a bunch of very smart technical people being “coached out” and, for whatever reason, and the marketers are being left in place.

    Query what happens – we have a lot of dumbasses left who do a great job of selling. What happens when the actual work needs to be done?

    @48 – I’m also disappointed they didn’t get rid of me in this round.

  90. PwC leaders are LIARS they cant simply come out and be honest and that’s what sad about this. They brag about “people strategy” but turn around and fire people without any communications. That’s just disgusting to me that blogs and coworkers spread the news (with diff levels of accuracy) before the leadership can. Its really sad that they work this way at the firm. In the last 3 months or so we have brought bearingpoint ppl in and new hires with no experience and now they are letting go pwc staff that are on projects for “duplicate skillset”?! They cannot admit failed strategies, constantly changing directions and leadership, reorgs and so on coupled with a bad market contributed to this. It’s time for some clean clear honesty, invite or not, as employees we deserve the truth and leaders with some balls

  91. Current PWCer here. You know, they really should get rid of a lot of the current Partners who couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag. Many of the newer Partners especially are technically very good, but prefer to stay in the “doer” roles on engagements, and rarely do or know how to go out and hunt for business and win it. I was on one engagement this past year and the Partner was much more concerned with the detail of plans than selling add on work or thinking ahead. Perhaps a culling there is really what would set things right. Good luck to everyone.

  92. I sympathize with those being let go. What I don’t get is why there seems to be an undercurrent in many of the comments that life should be fair. It isn’t, as I tell my 16-year-old on a daily basis. So you do the best you can, protect yourself, and plan for the future. Set aside money in case you do find yourself out of a job. Keep an eye on the market and gauge your value in that market.

    In parts of Advisory there is little “recurring” (audit- or Tax-style) work, so we have to eat what we kill. That means many of us who’ve been around a while have to hunt (read “sell”) – those of us who are successful get to stay for dinner. It’s a cruel world, and yes, PwC is part of the world.

  93. Does anyone know if anything was offered to those let go? Severance, etc.?
    Thanks

  94. I heard severance.. I’m sure it varies. But I heard 8 weeks.

  95. I currently work for PwC and I just wanted to say that I think that PwC should recieve at least SOME credit for exploring other options besides laying people off. The advisory practice had been hit very hard by the economic downturn, particularly my group, and instead of just axing people like the other Big 4 firms did, they tried to develop strategies that would allow them to hold on to their people. No one received raises, or bonuses this year, partners took a pay cut, no holiday parties, etc etc etc. I think PwC did the best they could and tried to hold on to their people strategy as long as possible but I guess it just wasnt enough. But give credit where credit is due. They tried which is more than you can say for the other accounting firms.

    I know several people who have been layed off this week – I wish them all the best of luck and I will truly miss seeing them around the office!!

  96. I’m sadden to hear about the pending layoffs, though this should not be a surprise to anyone. Anyone who has been around with PwC should know that you can’t trust leadership and most everything that is said or done is for the sole purpose of increasing partnership wealth.

    I left PwC about a year ago. I was doing very well, Exceptional for the last 5 years. I had built my own niche and client base and as a Director, I was bringing in more $$ than some partners. But, as soon as the downturn (and this has been happening at PwC for two years) occurred, there was a sense of everyone for themselves attitude. My billable codes and development codes were now shared with others who didn’t do a thing to get us there. Slowly, I began to see that what I did, someone else took credit for and the partners began a feeding frenzy into my clients since they can’t sell any work or deliver on engagements or build any relationships. The worst part was that the really good people started to leave and left what was their’s (clients, projects, teams) to the mediocre. So, you ask why the partners/directors/managers are so incompetent? It is because they remained behind and they survived only on the good work of others. When the good people leave, they have no clue what to do. So, it is true – the mediocre becomes the partners of PwC simply because that is what is left.

    I’ve got a great job now where I don’t need to worry about competing with my own colleagues. Imagine this, during the proposal process, you need not only worry about other firms as competitors, but also internally, who will try and steal this away from you!

  97. My 2 cents. If you do get RIF’d today it will be a blessing in disguise. Hopefully they’ll give you a package with a bit more than they gave those who were Faux RIF’d for so-called performance issues over the past few months. As for Francine, she spends a lot of time getting the facts checked and again for those who are RIF’d, she may be your best friend in finding roles elsewhere in organizations that really appreciate what you have to bring to the table. She has been AMAZINGLY helpful and really has a calling to connect good people with other good people. In fact, we’re looking for an Associate who has worked on one or more large-scale change projects out of the Ops/PI or People and Change practice. Experience with contracting for professional services and performance benchmarking a huge plus. Needs to be highly (I mean HIGHLY) motivated, a chief nudge from a project management standpoint and has a history of cranking out work on his/her own looking to supervisors for direction and decisions rather than for what to do next. Fran can connect you to me if you fit the bill.

  98. @ post 96. You are spot on! I bailed on these clowns too. These folks have some nerve. They need to let some of the non revenue generating partners go and stop giving them glorified internal titles. And taking shares from them is not going to work. Stop Tripping.. Sorry about the double entendre!

  99. I have a few comments, but would like to say first, Francine, for anyone to do what you continue to do is both amazing and incredibly valuable to the profession and those working within it.

    For perspective, I have an advanced degree in business, with a concentration in organization studies, and more than 30 years of business experience. Some of that, prior to the last 17 years associated with professional services, was working in an industry that routinely went through contractions and expansions. There were many layoffs.

    I was always one of the fortunate few in my groups that would make the cut and avoid the “ax.” Then, I got the ax at one point. One of my boss’s peers at the time, a director at a $6 billion employer, gave me a heads-up the day before. I remain indebted to him to this day for doing the right thing, because I would have been blind-sided.

    In that case, we had just gone through a 360 degree relative value ranking process in our division in the prior 12 months. It was very innovative at the time. I was ranked in the top 5 percent of my division, even though my compensation was in the bottom 25 percent. That was something I was proud of (the ranking, not the salary disconnect!) and it motivated me to do even better work. But the company immediately stopped doing the relative value ranking immediately after that first time.

    One of the reasons appeared to be that it was impossible to do a layoff the way they had become accustomed to doing it. As it turns out, people at that company spent a lot of time doing non-productive work that kept them safe in layoffs; mostly internally-focused “preening” to look good, rather than to deliver intrinsic client value. When the company needed to lay someone off that was delivering real value, and could document it if necessary, that created litigation risk and took subjectivity out of the RIF target mix.

    The trend appears to have continued to evolve in the direction of preserving information confidentiality for legal purposes at the expense of doing the right thing for the individual, and for the long-term viability of organizations themselves. Shortly before Peter Drucker passed away he reiterated what he had been saying in speeches for the prior 10 years, that productivity in knowledge work had actually decreased in his lifetime.

    What I describe above, and what Francine’s “nay sayers” appear to be advocating, is one of the key reasons for what Drucker observed in terms of decreased productivity. People like to feel secure and know what the rules are. Take a look at Deloitte’s October 2009 study to see the disconnect between perception and reality of management and staff in terms of employment priorities and propensity to look for another job (and the reasons for doing so). Management thinks over-working staff is the biggest risk; but staff is more concerned about job security. While transparency is one of the most important elements of true value creation, secrecy is one of the most important tools of proponents of creating more dubious forms of value.

    So I would ask of the few attackers that attempt to encourage FM to move on, or stop “telling” the story, what is your motivation? Personally, in my view, it appears that if the Big 4 did precisely what FM suggests, each firm would be: (1) more profitable and attract more “good” clients; (2) less likely to be a target of lawsuits; (3) more attractive to top talent; and (4) enjoy all of the benefits and accoutrements of an excellent reputation.

    If this blog is the needle in an information balloon that shouldn’t exist in the first place, so be it. FM appears to target all balloons, so that levels the playing field. My measure of what’s right personally has always been, would I feel comfortable waking up in the morning and reading an accurate representation of what I did yesterday on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I have honestly been able to answer yes to that for decades. How about you, nay-sayers?

  100. PwC has yet to understand that the Advisory practice can not be run in the same manner as the audit practice. You can’t just sell work and then put a warm body in to do the project, when the project is primarily consulting. A new college grad isn’t going to provide the CEO, CFO or COO of XYZ company a warm confidence in the end work product when the manager/director/partner were not really visibly involved in the project (case in point…the Insurance Industry report r.e. costs of Healthcare Proposed Legislation; my high school kid could have done a better job).
    In order to maintain a successful business, Managers/Directors have to be involved day to day existing client projects for the most part, especially with recurring accounts. Why employ Client Relationship Executives (who are 100% sales focused) and then require Managers & Directors to focus 40-50% of their time on sales rather than client service? When existing clients look elsewhere because you’re not delivering the quality they are paying for, and when you can’t attract new clients in the current market environment because your rates are through the ceiling, the entire model goes down the toilet. (If you can’t achieve 15% revenue growth through new sales, than attempting to achieve it by raising rates is really not the most brilliant step to take).
    In addition, the performance metrics were revised this year: “For FY10…billing fields will no longer be utilized to measure revenue or sales contributions; however we have introduced a sales credit feature in GFS which Advisory will pilot for Partners, Managing Directors and Directors in the Partner Candidate Development Program…..all other directores and managers should capture sales contributions by utilizing Opportunity Manager and Performance Evaluations from the partner leading the engagement to document impact and contribution to the sale, as appropriate.”…In other words, if the partner doesn’t like you, you are not getting credit for anything you contributed, and if you are not on “partner track”, you are second class.
    While I realize this is not totally on point with the unfortunate layoffs occurring now, I think it does support Fran’s point in her original post above related to the lack of management’s ability to really provide a sound business model which survives over time. In my 10+ years with the firm, I have probably seen 7 or 8 different business models rolled out, only to be replaced with the next managing partner. The result unfortunately is a collapsing business model at what once was and could still be a great company to work for. Those who are asked to leave, I sympathize with…those of us who are left will be wondering when the next round will begin and which of us will be included. Francine, thank you for the heads up…I hope you are able to give us the same type of advance warning before the next round comes.

  101. There is an Advisory webcast late this afternoon to discuss a critical business matter. Perhaps we will all know more then….

  102. @101

    Maybe how to prevent leaks in the future?

    Francine

  103. I hope this message saves a few people some stress. Be proactive and don’t make the mistake that I did regarding the final compensation. State laws dictate how long the firm has to pay (paycheck, severance, unused vacation, holidays, etc) what they owe you. I believed that the firm was going to give me my final compensation package on the date that was in the separation letter that the partner signed. I also believed the firm when they said the checks would come during the next pay cycle after I called to ask why I didn’t get one as expected. 7 weeks after my separation date I finally got angry enough to take action. I called HR and they told me (again) that the compensation was coming with the next pay date. I followed the call up with an email with a reference to the state statute that they were violating and that I was filing a complaint with the state (my state allows for punitive damages against the employer.) My final check showed up the next morning via next day air. Points from my experience:

    1- The separation letter that I received from the firm had final compensation dates that were beyond what is allowed by my state’s employment law
    2- The firm did not provide my compensation until after a month of the dates specified on the separation letter
    3- The firm lied to me several times regarding when I would receive the check
    4- PwC CAN cut paychecks ANY day of the week (they told me that they cannot)
    5- A chart of state laws regarding final paychecks can be found here: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-29882.html

    If I had to go through this again, I would’ve contacted HR when I was leaving with reference to the state law to inform them that they need to pay me according to state law, and not their own schedule. PwC only paid me after I informed them that I was filing a complaint with the state. The check was fedexed to me that same day.

    Good Luck to everyone :-)

  104. @103

    THANKS SO MUCH! I very much appreciate you providing this info and the resource regarding state laws.
    You are a prince.

    Francine

  105. I don’t need to listen to the webcast to know what it will say. Here’s how it will go…

    “Don’t worry, its business as usual, we had to cut some slack due to performance issues, these guys we cut are lame, the rest of us, we are on track. Keep going out there and sell sell sell, bill your clients in advance if you can, bill them double if they don’t have good internal controls, bill them for stuff that we don’t even do for them, just bill them. This is a great place to work and you are the cream of the crop, now go out there and sell sell sell. You’ve got family members who can buy anything? Introduce them to your partner, send them our latest marketing one-pager on how we can do anything for money, just sell them something, your performance is dependent on it. By the way, there will be no more layoffs (oops, I mean reducing headcount due to performance issues), come to work everyday (including Saturday and Sunday) so you can bill those hours to the client. We’re also increasing rates because if we don’t, we won’t meet our numbers. But, don’t worry, we are worth it. The clients need to pay top dollar for our awesome workforce, McKinsey-who? We’re better than those guys, remember we pay in the middle of the pyramid and they can’t offer what we do – and they are scrambling to compete with us! We are awesome, the partners are awesome, wait until AU, you’ll see, we’ll have a blast drinking away your bonus. Now go out there and SELL!

  106. @105

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. ;)

    PwC Chicago has a new campaign, “100 New Clients.” Catchy, huh?
    Sort of like those pesky trick-or-treaters that still ring your bell after you’ve turned the lights out and curled up on the sofa.
    “Go away! I’m through with you guys.”
    Francine

  107. I worked as a Manager and Director in PwC Advisory for several years. I found that there were lot of bright people there, but it was a very difficult environment to work in given the internal relationship and control issues within the leadership ranks. MDs/Directors/Managers are heavily rewarded for sales (versus delivery and strategic insight.) MDs and Directors are given sales targets which many times were over and above those of the Partners they report to. And, Partner sales targets and revenues are always a big secret. Partners and other Directors often “cannibalize” the client relationships of other MDs/Directors as a means to roll-up revenues into their own sales books. These practices had often resulted in the delivery of misaligned solutions to clients as more senior-level people would desperately “pile-on” the opportunity in the hopes to get sales credit.

    My last year at the firm, I was put “on the list” after taking aggressive stances against these dysfunctional practices – even though I sold and delivered over $3M of client work in the year. I found that being “on the list” was a very humiliating process that included weekly HR meetings, daily touch-points, activity reporting, and a lot of other unnecessary admin. The overall objective was the same: (1) get you to leave the firm on your own accord (I assume to save severance $), or (2) try to frame and document a performance justification for an eventual separation (nice word!) Given the strength of my sales book at the time, (the idiots in) HR developed a bunch of subjective, non-quantifiable improvement points for my PIP (performance improvement plan.), which included things like “improve presence in office” and “demonstrate more effective mentorship with staff” – WTF? Overall, it was a very strange and non-collaborative environment, and when I made my mind up to leave it took me a little over a month to find a similar senior-level role with a non-B4 competitor. I’m much happier now working for a REAL consulting firm.

    I empathize with all of the staff (including my friends) who will affected by this reduction. However, I’m seeing that companies are constantly looking for good talent, and having PwC on your resume can be a plus. Good Luck!

  108. @90 — the reason they do not tell you everything the second the ideas are floated is because right up until the last second things can and DO change. This is the same reason why the gossip you hear is only somewhat accurate in the end. Even if every source is reliable, the information changed too quickly for the gossip to keep up. Pay attention to the advice @92 gives and ignore the gossip and don’t expect leadership to feed you ever changing information until the decisions are made (in which case they act so quickly the news comes out when you get the lay off notification).

  109. When it comes right down to it…. there has been such a big deal made about 260 people getting cut in a firm of 32,000 (less than 1% of the total staff!!!!!). All of you who are so aghast at the big bad PwC machine should get a life. PwC has done more for their people than any of the other Big 4 combined. They have held on to people much longer than they should have (and, to boot, gave raises and bonuses equating to more than any of the other Big 4 firms) – but at least the people were getting paid even when there was not enough business to justify keeping them, There was defiinitely a benefit to PwC in holding on to the staff as they were looking to the future hoping they would be better staffed when the economy turned (can you all remember what happened after 404 came into being…all of the firms were scrambling for anyone who could say the word “audit”). The bet has not paid off as the economy has not turned and action had to be taken. But again…..less than 1% of the total population!!!!

    Finally as someone before said…. Business is not fair…. partners are allowed to make money. It is called capitalism. Let it go….

  110. Well, we can rest easy…per today’s web cast (not recorded, no questions taken) the 260 reduced staff members will be able to apply for open positions in the WFP. Only problem is that a check of the PwC Career board lists 61 open positions for experienced hires in Public Sector, McLean, Va. I imagine the remaining 199 staff affected will be able to apply in the Pacific Northwest where there must be tons of openings.

    Love that kool-aide!!!!!

  111. Yea, the reason why WFP has openings is because their turnover rate is at 32%, even in this economy. Go from bad to worse leadership.

  112. Yes, if you liked 404, WFP is doing A123 (the government’s version of 404). Get paid 20% less, billed out at $70/hour and work with a bunch morons, come on in! You’ll be out in 6 months like most recruits.

  113. @110

    First of all, at least there are opportunities for them to apply to…and second, there are over 40 additional positions in the PNW so quit making stupid comments if you do not have the facts. Most people will not want to apply for roles that have them move anyway, and I can almost guarantee that less than 50 people will actually apply for any of the roles. But, for those that do, there is also a relatively generous lump sum relocation package being offered for those that do want to try something different.

    Is there really no end to the cynicism??!! Let it go!

  114. @109 Whythehate: Actually, per this afternoon’s web cast, the total laid off represents 6% of Advisory staff, not less than 1%…not my words, Dana M’s words, so obviously you are either not in Advisory, or did not bother to listen to the web cast. As far as this year’s raises & bonuses are concerned, you must have been drinking the kool-aide as well…yum, yum!!!

  115. All the people trying to downplay the number of people let go, which to be honest is only 2 or 3 people who have posted so far (assuming they’re not the same person), need to at least focus on just PWC Advisory or maybe even specific practice numbers. Also, unemployment is projected to stay abnormally high for years, so for all those so eager to rationalize the layoffs, don’t worry, you’ll probably all get your chance to get eggs on your own face sooner rather than later. Keep up the great work of keeping us all in the loop, Francine! Especially about DT. lol

  116. Herenow… Obviously you live in a bubble. PwC is more than advisory. There are 32000 people in the us firm. It is simple math…..

  117. Responses are monitored and censored by the moderator. Readers, keep this in mind if you are trying to wade through the responses and formulate a balanced perspective. If the moderator posts this, I would respect her for doing so but will remain wary about what has been censored.

    On the topic, there are countless boutique consulting firms around the world that have folded in the last few decades with no forum to discuss their deaths. We are a collection of 100 boutique consulting firms operating under one brand name. 6 just folded in the name of capitalism. Life goes on. Cherish the freedom to explore options.

  118. @113 You are a very interesting new addition to this web blog. May you grow (up) in knowledge as you learn not to call others comments stupid. So if 50 people apply for 61 positions, and all of them were hired, that would equate to an 81@% hire rate. You really believe that is going to happen? Using your own numbers, 61 + 40 (PNW) leaves 160 folks out in the cold. As far as a lump sum relocation package, that is not true and you should know it. Only partners and some directors receive relocation assistance, not associates & seniors (which are what many of these positions are). I’m not sure you are even a PwC employee, seeing that you seem to know very little concerning the inner workings. The employees who I am personally aware of who were let go did receive a severance package, but there are no guarantees regarding relocation assistance if they are engaged by another PwC division.

    Bottom line is the web cast today indicated that all 260 downsized employees would be able to apply for the positions open in WFP and PNW (Pacific Northwest). There are a total of 101 total positions posted for both locations, which was not discussed during the web cast. That was my point, sorry if that seemed to be stupid in your eyes.

    Kool-aide is great…please, sir, may I have some more?

  119. @Censored

    I monitor for a community, my community, standard. It was explained again early in this thread because unfortunately it was necessary. I either post or delete and never edit. Comments that were deleted (6) were vulgar, threatening to me personally, or both.
    If you take a look at what has been posted you will see I encourage open, honest debate, discussion, even disagreement if respects people and their privacy.
    Francine

  120. All you peeps commenting on this forget one thing.. The partners fed us the line “no increase so we can keep ya.” now im still around, but it sure does feel bad to lose my closest friend I have there. The lay off was an arbitrary cut, eliminating people with good skillsets while keeping others who provide dubious value. It was thrown at people much like that webcast, a nice quick 8 minute speech just saying “were having a layoff of people with similar skillsets, and thats that” I understand PwC has 32000, but at the same time, Advisory is very different and provides very different services than the mind numbing task simply ticking, tying, and doing steps that are predetermined and given to you to complete. As a former audit person, I am thankful to be in Advisory, still have my job, but wish people could simply see the human aspect. It sucks to lose people close to you, especially when its not justified and done in a secretive, deceitful manner. All i want to know is when will anyone at national wake up and start cutting the real drag on our firm, the partners. The accountability isnt there, and it wont be there for a while. The associates and seniors are the real revenue drivers.

  121. One 5-6th year partner monthly distribution in advisory can employ about 30 – 40 associates and seniors… + including the overhead that goes with it… that’s leverage for you… that’s a lot of the dead weight…

    if a partner is 58 / 59… they have an incentive to wait until their mandatory retirement age of 60….. their pension depends on it…… that’s dead weight….

    there’s a few partners who are lurking around who are just itching to hit the retirement gold course yet aren’t since they haven’t been forced out and their monthly distribution is better than an 85% cash flow cut they would otherwise get.

    if some of the people above paid more attention to detail…. its 260 of approximately 4,300ish National Advisory Employees…. not Audit… Dana oversees Advisory US, not PwC US…. Audit is Audit, Advisory is Advisory…. let each of them worry about their own umbrellas…

    Right now its complete chaos in the office…. but even though some friends have a decision to make about their next steps… i’d rather be in the know than get blind sided from what they call ‘a relationship partner’ who most of the time, doesn’t care about their employees / colleagues…. At the very least a person going into that type of meeting can formulate a response, relevant questions, maybe work something out if they know the partner very well… so i’d say thanks to francine since from what i’ve read above for each and every post.. she’s been dead on in her info….

    morale of the story, networking isn’t enough, you have to network with the right people, keep your nose clean (or the appearance of it being clean), and play the game… if you can deal with the politics at pwc… you’ll be fine elsewhere….. just don’t burn bridges because you’ll never know where that person will come back into your life later down the road on different terms….

  122. Wow, revisiting this, the comments are insane. Did you really think a blog (fundamentally a news outlet) would learn of a major story within its purview and not report it? The idea that this ruined what was a silly layoff plan is a joke.

    PWC and other auditing firms have enjoyed an unsettling lack of transparency in the marketplace. It looks like that is going away. Might want to figure out how to live in this new operating environment rather then look foolish resisting it with nonsensical “you ought to be ashamed…” responses.

    PWC is not like other organizations. It hasn’t been for a long time. Its possible to like and feel empathy for the people of an organization, but realize that there is a problem with the whole. We can all hear the death rattle, time to get out. And I don’t think Fran is going to “get over it”, so maybe you ought to.

  123. a couple points from the inside….
    - an advisory partner told me straight up that the blog caused them to accellerate the process…..um, any of you partners heard of the internet?
    - apparently the partners were shocked that the circle of trust around this thing was broken to allow for the leak…i mean, only partners and HR knew about this. um, yeah. betcha none of those people talked to their spounses, friends or other trusted parties. betcha none of them has an allegiance to someone who has been burned in the past or whatever. the naivete is ridiculous
    - clearly this was a reactive week (weak) long process….the whole WFP was clearly a last minute toss in for PR / damage control.
    - this has clearly been contemplated for a long time. between this crap, the ongoing blitz bs, playbooks, and everything else, people are out of control. partners are running around like chickens without heads
    - so where do we go from here? i will tell you morale is in the tank and people are not scared. if anything, a lot of people thought about exiting pwc as part of this process and proabbly realized that would be fine. i say morale and results will pick up again when we have decent leadership that knows how to motivate people (dana is a cotton mouth talking joke) and start paying for performance. we all took a pay cut this year….how’s that people strategy working out fellas?

  124. @120 (anonymous312) – So spot on. I think the same can be said for the other big 4. There is no accountability for poor strategy and decision-making at the leadership level. F’ the partners who think they are the ones responsible for double digit growth because they can “sell, sell, sell”. (FYI: partners are NOT marketers. They are not natural salespeople. Seriously, how many partners do you know that studied marketing in school??). Yeah the partners are responsible for winning clients, but it’s the seniors and associates who perform the grunt work. They are the ones responsible for sustaining any supposed revenue growth. They are the real growth sustainers. And sadly, we all know they are rarely lauded for that effort.

  125. I had to laugh out loud after the webcast on Friday. It sounded like he read it off a teleprompter – no emotion, no remorse, no understanding of the impact and the willingness to come across as a utter dumbass. Juan has left big shoes to fill and Dana doesnt look like he is even serious about attempting to fill them. An all round poor leader, with no vision and no personality. I dont know how long he is going to be in that role – but I am hopeful that the Partnership realizes they made the wrong choice. Freak show.

  126. Time to RIF Partners, especially since most the ones who made Partner over the past 4-7 years can’t sell water in the desert. They are glorified expensive project managers, when they need to be out selling work.

  127. Why so much hate? Show some love… PwC is a great organization.

  128. It is funny to see the people who have commented on this post, who have not seen the body of work Francine has documented over the last few years.

    If you inquired with the PwC’s PR people they will quickly say that PwC has done a great job at avoiding layoffs. However, if you have observed PwC’s culture you’ll quickly find the firm has actively “coached people out of the firm” and “removed people with performance issues” ever since the downfall of sox and the creation of AS5. The latest layoffs (first ones being in Advisory in the spring of 2008) just show they were unable to move enough people out.

    We all know we are not going to be given the evidence so we can inspect the numbers ourselves to see what is going on in the firm. People at all the firms both big and small are afraid of their own firm re-performing the same strategies PwC is using right now, because the fact is everyone is doing it to one degree or another.

    Personal vigilance is required at all the firms, if you are still drinking the kool-aid its time to kick the sugar habit.

  129. I can understand the frustration that people are feeling at PwC – especially those laid off. But lets all be honest here, if your utilization was down this year, and you weren’t a top performer last year, you had to know this was a possibility. Regardless what management says this was always an option, they pulled all the other “levers” they had and this had to happen. Someone said there were raises this year, but that was only for people promoted and it was a flat %. Everyone else got nothing. The economy hasn’t turned around and PwC can not afford to have another year where they didn’t give raises. Industry has started hiring and many people in Advisory are in front of clients who would love to hire them directly. If PwC isn’t able to equitably compensate people this year, they will start losing their best talent to industry. So letting people go may help free up some budget to ensure at least the top performers are given something this year.

    As for the people that want partners fired also – two things – think about this – if you managed yourself – would you fire you? Of course not – you worked to hard to make partner and you think you deserve to stay. Second – its the chicken and the egg mentality. Without the partners selling work, the associates and seniors can’t earn that revenue that you are talking about. So the firm is keeping the people who can sell work and going to ask a lot of the people still at the firm to perform on it. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. I haven’t necessarily drank the kool-aid but if you think you have better options – then exercise them – because the firm will exercise theirs if they need to also…….

    Just my two cents

  130. I am a two year old, who just did something bad, and am angry with someone for tattling on me. Which is worse — what I did or the tattling? Well, it depends who you ask.

    I guess if I committed a crime and hurt someone, the tattling can be excused. However, if I am just a greedy SOB who threw my team under the bus to save my own job and salary, is that really so bad? Why is it not rational to blame Francine for everything? If she hadn’t alerted everyone to the layoffs, I could have denied it, spin it, and make it go away. Now, when I send a invitation to an employee, I have to worry about dealing with someone who may feel backstabbed and act antagonistic. Oh, Francine. You just made my life so much harder (even though I am still employed).

  131. I’ve been with PwC now for almost 12 years and I am looking to go. My biggest concern isn’t about leadership or sales, but really ethics. I’ve come to see for myself some of the back office deals that happens in partners’ offices. Some of these partners are just bad news and think that they can get away with anything. The arrogance around the office is just ridiculous.

    From top to bottom – I think the mindset at PwC these days is to try and get away with what you can, so you can look good. Lie, cheat, blame others if you need, just make yourself look good. I’m so tired of going into the office and looking behind my shoulders to see who is going to stab me in the back. So far I’ve been stabbed in the back by the partner I’ve made alot of money for, HR whom I did numerous favors for, my coachees who I spent time trying to mentor and my staff whom I brought into my projects only to have a few of them trying to take away my role.

    So, its time to go. I don’t want to be around a firm where its all about individual.

  132. I was notified today that I will be “separated” from the firm effective Nov 20th

    I am (was) a senior associate.

    I received 7 weeks severance pay and the WFP BS offer (with 8K relocation if you get the offer).

    The worst part was being informed about the separation from a partner that I had never met before – you think the partner you roll up to, who must have given you up, would have the decency to tell you to your face.

  133. @129- I completely agree… but I’m sure others will give you an earful… so know that you have some support out here.

  134. Francine,
    I am constantly amazed at the readers that attack you and question your motives and I am appreciative of the readers that support you. If only your detractors knew that seeking publicity, increasing revenue or simply being bitter could not be farther from the truth in regard to your motivation. Their anger is so obviously misplaced.

    Too bad they can not talk to all of the people that worked for you/with you on projects when you were with the Big 4. They would know that you cared as much if not more for them, their career, potential advancement and general well being as you did for the client and the success of the project. When ever you witnessed an employee being layed off, after you did everything you could in your power to save them, you were the first person to help them network in order to find a new position as well as advise them through the difficult situation. Many were extremely grateful and are still, as well as loyal, to you to this day. I know because I was your sounding board in regard to the frustration and sadness you would feel when this occurred to them as well as the frustration you had for your own various situations.

    But you did not sit idly by and wait for the ax. You have an uncanny sense for reading people, the dynamics of a company and a situation and recognizing it for what it is. Thank goodness you can now do that without penalty for the benefit of others. These people should be grateful that someone is putting it out there and saying it like it is. Who else is doing it? Not the companies, not the mainstream media! If they don’t like it then they don’t have to read it.

    But your detractors, like a moth to a flame, are drawn to your site and if they dive in without thinking they are gonna get burned because in this case they are not smart enough, have the resources, the loyal followers with the insider info. and the pure motive that you have in order to go up against you. They are cooked before they even hit, “submit comment”.
    You go Sis!

  135. I’d like to know if @132 experience, getting message from designated “dirty work” partner vs. one you report up to, was common.

    Francine

  136. @132 which part of advisory were you? My spouse works for PwC and its interesting to hear about how there is no “team” mentality left at the firm. I guess when shit hits the roof, everyone looks out for themself. Bearingpoint seems to have broken the camels back!!!

  137. @ 135

    One of the first things I asked the “dirty work” partner after he gave me his canned HR reasoning for my separation was – ” How come (Name of the partner I roll up to) is not here telling me this in person??”

    His response was that he and one other partner were selected to deliver the message (lucky them) – seems like he had the CR booked all day and was just delivering his mostly canned speech to poor schmucks like me and handing out paperwork on how to switch our cellular service from corp liable back to individual – Awesome.
    I actually had empathy for they guy, because I realized he actually felt pretty bad and it was difficult for him to deliver this message to someone he didn’t know. I felt worse for myself though :) I had been with the firm almost three years and have been billable for almost 90% of that time and had never gotten a bad review. I guess I needed to be more hungry and not just get good reviews but make them standout.

    The most frustrating part was definitely not having anyone in there that knew me (even the HR “shield” lady who was there was only known to me by name). Therefore I could not look for an honest answer from anyone there as to why this was happening to me. I wanted feedback – I wanted honesty – I got neither.

    To answer your question – yes – I would imagine it was very common for this message to be delivered by a partner relatively unknown to the affected EE.

  138. For all of those above who diminish the numbers of X% of people who were terminated, wait until you get a bad ARC review, or the infamous “Partner” meeting for your performance like @137.

    At a minimum, this all started with Carter Pate and his “me first” mentality of pitting Partners and MDs in SAP to make them fight against one another to get credit 18 months ago. Then this brilliance was extended down to a single Director slot in SAP per engagement. Yeah, what a great way to generate teamwork there! Then, Partners began fighting amongst themselves for engagement vs. billing credit. Likewise, directors were duking it out for that sole slot to get their credit as well.

    In Dana’s and Carter’s infinite wisdom, they made it even more onerous this year, and where once there were 2 slots, now there is only one. So the Partners are even more maniacal than ever to “own the code.”

    Forget Accenture, DT, or E&Y, the enemy is you, your leadership (oxymoron there)! PwC is so concerned about getting individual credit, keeping other Partners and Directors off engagements and billing codes they are killing themselves from “friendly fire.” The catch phrase is “bad behavior.”

    And many of these “leaders” don’t have any client interaction or engagement responsibilities, so what do they do to get credit / sales to meet their metrics? They assign themselves to “internal projects” to get sales credit. (Don’t ask me how that works, but it’s commonly referred to as “gaming the system.”)

    Ladies and gentlemen of PwC, that is how your Partner leadership sets the example and provides “distinctive client” experience – by asking you to work more hours, raise rates, bill early and often while they siphon off of internal projects.

    One of the classics of the past year was when Randy Browning went nuts (May, I believe) and was predicting the “worst month in the history of advisory.” Rather than fess up to reality, he asked everyone to do work normally planned for June in May, bill early, work more hours. Essentially, rob Peter to pay Paul. . .

    When people like those described in 137 are terminated, and directors in the Partner pipeline are terminated, at what point do the Partners / leadership above advisory look in the mirror and say, “You folks are running this practice into the ground, and have no strategy beyond the 3 months in Retain. . .It’s time for you to go!”

    McIlwain, Browning and Koehneman must be dying to knowr who (Partner or HR) would let the cat out of the bag, and why?

    Maybe someone got fed up, looked at the absurdity of the names and why these people were singled out, and had to spill the beans?

  139. What’s happening at PwC is lousy, but there are multiple sides to every issue. I sincerely empathize with those being affected. Being laid off is an experience that scars you permanently, even if it ultimately does turn out to be a positive for you in the long run. One thought about some people (like myself) who have families and mortgages and who are gainfully employed by PwC (or any Big 4 firm for that matter) and feel fairly well compensated for their roles. Job security everywhere is a thing of the distant past… it’s a buyer’s market at the moment where employees are concerned and firms like PwC are exploiting that. That said, I feel almost paralyzed to look elsewhere and try to make a move in this kind of market. I am sure there are others out there who would also love to find another position elsewhere, but just cannot bring themselves to look right now, especially if they have families depending on them.

    I have an updated resume ready to go and I have kept my bridges and relationships intact over my 17-year career, but I’m gonna try to ride this out and wait until the job market improves dramatically before thinking of leaving voluntarily. I suppose that’s risky too, but at least I can focus on the job I still have and just do the best I can in that role as it’s been defined… that’s one thing I know that I can control. Show up with a positive attitude, be respectful to others and take the high road (even when they don’t reciprocate, at least you can maintain your integrity and ethics), do your job to the best of your abilities – and just let the chips fall where they may. Can’t control the forced rankings. Can’t control the politics (which are present at every company to an degree, so don’t kid yourself if you think they’re not). Can’t control what others do and say. Some commenters on this blog may say this is a weak and passive approach. Some may say I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. On the contrary, I don’t agree with all the policies and actions of the firm, but sometimes you need to pick your spots and weigh everything important to you in making decisions. Right now, taking care of the job I still have – which equates to providing for my family and paying the mortgage – outweighs everything else. PwC will not be my last career stop – not even close. But for now, riding this out by focusing on what I can control in my current job – for as long as that may last – is an approach that helps me sleep at night. Does anyone else out there identify with this viewpoint? Good luck to anyone impacted by the latest PwC cuts… try to stay positive and stay strong… do not let any bitterness (justified or not) enter into discussions with prospective employers. This is a very unique time in the sense that every company knows how bad things are out there and you get a “free pass” if you’ve been layed off, “RIF’d,” “downsized,” “rightsized” or whatever your company calls it.

  140. @139

    Sounds like you’ve thought about this a lot and, for now, have made the right choice for you. Maintaining a realistic and to some extent detached attitude is probably the only way to survive such uncertainty. I hope you can do so while staying ethical and treating your colleagues and subordinates fairly. If the time comes when you can’t, I hope you will think as hard about that. If the time comes and you want to or have to leave, you will find you are not alone in your experience and your regret for wanting/having to do so.

    Good luck.
    Francine

  141. @ 132

    Your situation sounds pretty nice to me (given the circumstances) and I wish my partner(s) and director(s) would have the balls to be direct and honest with me and everyone else. On Monday of this week, a colleague told me that mass layoffs were coming. I passed the news onto another Associate and she began asking questions and eventually sent me the link to this post. So I mentioned it to my team lead on Thursday and he says that we have to head over to the office on November 19th for a meeting with the partner. Since I am on a project, I guess they have to try to squeeze every last billable hour out of me.. you know with times being so tough. It’s just insult to injury to not have the balls to be honest about the situation. Also an insult to my intelligence. I suppose I am better off leaving a firm where the partners and directors don’t have the guts to be honest with their employees or themselves. If they could have admitted last year that they were not well positioned and acted swiftly, then I could have pursued other opportunities. I am mad at myself for believing the malarkey and not moving more swiftly to find another job. The only reason I stayed was because most people hide their vicious backstabbing ways and are actually pleasant to work with on a daily basis (not to mention that they are usually smart).

    PwC should have treated their professionals way better in these rough times because when the economy recovers the talent will be sitting across the table as the client in the private and public sector. I can guarantee you that the way they have handled this will come back to haunt them.

    Francine, I really do appreciate the fact that you are so direct and can help me cope with this difficult time by giving me the notice I deserve.
    Thank you so much Francine!

  142. @ 141….

    The situation sounds A LOT like what happened at KPMG Audit after their busy season… the minute their busy season was over and Q1 started, a TON of my friends hit the can… and I mean a lot… so you guys have to be in the office on Nov 19? Boy, that’s just unfair….

    I agree with the comment above that said, BP broke the camels back…

    That’s a lot of cash that went out the door….

  143. Despite the firms’ attempts to distinguish themselves, it is eerie how similar they are. @138, you’ve just summarized what happened at Deloitte. When the partners who did nothing on their “accounts” realized what was happening in the economy, they suddenly started to squeeze out the directors/senior managers on their accounts. They started setting up meetings with clients and excluding the people who actually served the client. It is all about job security, and the partners’ are scared too. They have the power to (somewhat) protect themselves, while throwing you under the bus. It is so common that the clients are seeing it, which does nothing to generate the business that the firms need so badly. The smarter clients are hiring the resources they need, although it takes much longer to hire someone these days. And yes, the partners are all running the firm into the ground, because they don’t know what else to do and because the cancer has taken over the system.

  144. I am currently a director at the firm and I am trying to get some footing since these events have occurred. All of this has come as a complete surprise to me and evidently to many others including MDs and Partners.  In the weeks leading up to this, a number of Managers and Directors either left the firm or were RIFed – not to mention those that were “Separated” in July and August.  So why then these cuts? What I would like to know is:
     

    * What is at the root of the cuts? Why the emergency meeting – did they all of a sudden decide that they need to do this? Does this have to do with Morit’z retracted email around “no raises” again for 2010?
    * What does the next few months hold? I heard that up to 500 non-”heritage” Bearing will be cut before years-end.
    * Where is the firm going?  Is the goal to get Advisory lean and mean, build up “transform” type work (e.g., SAP and Oracle) and then spin off advisory?

     
    It may be that the firm has been in total chaos since at least 07 and there is no rhyme or reason but perhaps someone in the know can share.  It’s really a sad thing that I need to read this blog to get information.
     
    To my former colleagues that were cut, perhaps you are better off in some ways. Many of those staff that I know who were RIFed since July have landed in fantastic jobs – some so quickly that they were double compensated. Also those strange sicknesses related to stress and uncertainty have gone away.

  145. To continue, one of the seniors walked into a partner’s office one day and saw the partner was writing his own memo. Said partner never did a lick of work before. He obviously needed the chargeable hours himself. It is every man out for themselves.

    @139, many at Deloitte held your view and are still there. They have trouble sleeping at nights, worrying about who will stab them in the back next. Plus, many are staying just to collect the severance. Be careful if you decide to start interviewing. Your colleagues will find out and spread the news to protect themselves. You may end up getting tossed, as a result. It is the new reality of working in a public accounting firm.

    Finally, whatever you do, DO NOT interview at another public accounting firm. Despite what you may be told, all the other firms are hurting. Some are posting jobs simply to collect intelligence. Don’t be surprised if they tell XYZ clients that YOU interviewed with them because your firm sucks. They are all dying for work.

  146. @ 129:

    Rating and utilization did not matter – well at least not in my case. Rated 2 (Higher than expected) this year with utilization currently in the mid 80’s at the Manager level. Was leading a project scheduled to go well into 2010. Was told my skill set was no longer in demand and didn’t fit the tragedy going forward – I actually laughed out loud at that. Gee, that’s funny considering I was told I was being “separated” haha what a great way to put it, on Thursday and have three interviews scheduled for next week already, so much for a skill set no one wants. I’ll take the package (however pathetic it was) as my own little going away present and move on to bigger and better with an organization that actually does have a strategy. I feel terrible for the directors and managers who are late in their careers and have been tossed to the curb for no other reason then Advisory has no clear vision or leadership at least I am in a position to say this was the jump start I needed to actually do something at a firm where I will be respected. Oh yeah, another classy move – The Pulse Survey (internal survey taken twice a year) went out two weeks ago, nice timing PwC – wonder how the results would look if you sent it out now. What a joke. I feel sorry for the friends that are staying behind, twice the workload and half the staff to help. Many who remain are jealous of those who got the package……..

    @103 -
    Thanks for the heads up – will definitely do this after my attorney finishes reviewing the paperwork they want me to sign. That’s right, I immediately consulted an attorney and I am glad I did, he found a few “areas of concern” on his initial review. I can’t wait for the full outcome tomorrow. HR was actually surprised when I wouldn’t sign it before showing it to my attorney – are they serious????

  147. @ 145, the reason that this came as a suprise is because PwC leadership can send out whatever message they choose and there are few independent sources that can counter that information (that’s why this blog performs a needed service). The BearingPoint acquisition was a mistake from the beginning. The strongest business line from BearingPoint was actually public services and PwC was outbid by Deloitte for this group. Why did BearingPoint fail? There are many reasons, but certainly the poor integration of Arthur Andersen’s consulting practice did not help. Was PwC better prepared to integrate a large consulting practice? Leadership certainly thought so, but were they right? PwC has consistently told its advisory staff that we are going to come out of this stronger than other consulting firms because we will have the appropriate staffing levels to do the work when the economy turns. Apparently, that did not happen in the timeframe that was anticipated. PwC finds itself in a position with decreasing partner compensation and staff levels that are not warranted. The “performance” separations after ARC and the RIFs occuring now are the result. Expect more of the same in the near future if partner compensation does not improve quickly.

  148. @148

    Why did BearingPoint fail? It was a long slow slide, started by leadership that took it public that were really auditors, not consultants and not public company leaders. They never adapted their practices or attitude to running a pubic company. Sort of like how one of the commenters here mentioned that PwC doesn’t understand how a consulting firm is run versus an audit firm.

    I once had a senior partner at PwC tell me that I was more of a consultant than an internal auditor. I asked what was so bad about that? I thought that’s why Dennis Bartolucci hired me? He said that I may be a great consultant but he had know way of judging that because he was just an auditor.

    I’m now starting to hear the “package it up and sell it” rumor about PwC Advisory. That would be second time in less than ten years. When will the clients start realizing that it’s bad business to get involved in mission critical initiatives with a consultant that has no long term staying power in the business?

    (Old PwC Advisory sold in 2002 to IBM, which is why you have so few consultants there versus auditors. There are some, but very few, and most had to be imported to jumpstart the practice again.) For some insight on BearingPoint and BP PWC start here.

    http://retheauditors.com/2009/03/24/is-a-big-4-firm-buying-bearingpoint/
    http://retheauditors.com/2009/05/26/how-satyam-supported-pwcs-schizophrenic-strategy-to-reenter-the-systems-integration-business/

    Francine

  149. I agree with @138 that the business model is about individual competition not teamwork. Staff compete for utilization and directors/partners compete for managed revenue. At KPMG only one partner and one manager/director are listed on each engagement as the ones who sold and/or managed the work . The result, people do backstab abd look out for themselves. This is the primary flaw in their business odel. It leads to the fact that there is no real reward for being a true manager. People who develop teams, train staff, stratigize collaboratively, and so on and so forth… these people can only get so far in the firm and then they are held back. Ultimately, all the complaints I see on this blog are a symptom of this specific practice. Albeit, a major flaw… it doesn’t warrant the accusations and anger of those who are caught in the trap. I do believe it will eventually change… but it will take a lot longer to do so.

    I know of people who have little utilization, but work behind the scenes in ways that make it possible for those with utilization to do the work (and thus make it possible to sell the work). These people are important to the firm, but are targets — and others are going to extremes to protect them. So far, the right people have been protected (IMHO), but there is inequity in how this is accomplished. Some are protected by not promoting them to the level where they might get noticed, others get the promotion and are transferred into a division where the expectations are different.

    It is true that the marketers rule the world — this is true in all organizations. While it is completely and utterly unfair (the issue being that if the doers weren’t standing there ready and able the amrketers would have nothing to market, and if the amrketers sold nothing the doers would have no work… how obvious is the interdependence)… OK, while unfair, the world has settled on the fact that marketers are valued and compensated more highly. The only logic I can provide is that a marketer can win work on a promise and then backfill by hiring the right expertise. The other logic I have been given over the years is because there are so many doers out there that supply outweighs demand. And the last reason I have heard is that as a doer you can only “do” so much and bring in so much revenue. But as a marketer you can bring in all kinds of revenue (I suppose because you aren’t responsible to do it so you can just focus on the marketing). But much of these reasons are fanciful justifications. All I can say — it is the way it is… at all firms of all kinds in the US.

    So, back to my point — that the B4 more than other firms accentuate this reward the marketer thing by creating a competitive situation in which managing is not rewarded. It isn’t unethical, per se. Francine indicated in @140 that there is only one inevitable path if you accept this situation (that others call Koolaid) and try to work with it — and that path is you corruption and inability to live with yourself. Some people fight the system from within the system, some people find pockets of fairness within a system and work within it… this is not the ONLY inevitable outcome.

    So to @139 I say… your logic is fine, and I would look for the pockets and the ways to address the problems rather than just cave and follow the leader… for following the leader may lead to your personal corruption or you may follow the leader over the cliff. But if you stay and work wisely within the system and push for change… it could be rewarding. The problems the B4 have are real — but not the pure evil that many portrait on this blog.

  150. Any news on the EA/TA positions? I suspect they will be affected also and considering all the buzz around the “mistake” of creating the TA role, it’s only a matter of time before they are separated from the firm.

  151. Francine sticks to what she knows and that is sticking it to good old PW. Time to change the record Francine and get yourself a real job

  152. @152 David Zieloni

    This is what I do so you’ll have to get used to it.

    If you looked around you would see that I spare none of the firms. PwC just happens to have more partners that are pretty fed up right now. Still, but turgid, waters run deep…

    And PwC has probably the worst outlook of all Big 4 given combination of Madoff lawsuits and Satyam.
    Francine

  153. Not so long ago, our practice had one of the very best Director decide to leave the firm. Slowly most of the staff on his projects moved on as well, many went along to work with him. By my account, these folks were the 1’s and 2’s in our practice and they realized that those who remain would not look out for them or sell anything of value or interest. The result today is that all of the last year’s 1’s and 2’s have left and we (I admit I’m a 3) are just running in circles chasing our own tails. When I was in school, I thought that I would work with the very best at PwC. This is definitely not true – in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve seen all the really good people leave and the people that remain really don’t have much marketable value, except that they are the best BS’ers I’ve ever met. This is what I am most scared of, I don’t have much technical skills and the only thing that matters at PwC is sales. While I thought that consulting would be a great place to start my career, I’ve realized now that my peers who didn’t join PwC have much stronger technical skills than I do and it would be hard to compete with them in the market.

    So, its either try and stick it out and try and become a sales person or find something else where I basically need to start over to learn a real technical skill. I feel that I have lost years in my career by sticking it out here at PwC. Anyone thinking the same way?

  154. @77 – Love your blog on the compensation… makes me want to leave Public Accounting first thing Monday AM!

  155. @83 Tenation Truman

    “P.S. Does anybody know if Dana is still boxing under a pro coach for his exercise? Or do the demands of the new role give him enough of a pugilistic workout? Just wondering ….”

    Interesting question…..
    I used to work for Dana in Los Angeles in the early 2000s, before he moved up to the “big time” in NYC. Back then, I remember that he use to train and show purebreed dogs. Now he’s boxing with a pro? Wow. This provides an intersting insight into his evolution from Junior Partner to Advisory Leader – i.e., client-focused perfectionist to an agressor/competitor persona.

    Hmmmmm……

  156. So the objective is to make the partners rich, so after selling MCS to IBM a few partners convinced assurance and tax to fund the start-up of Advisory. Year 1- in the red, year 2 – red again, year 3 – red again………..assurance and tax partners begin scratching their heads as they continue to fund a money losing business. Year 4 – in the red, year 5 – in the red. You get the picture.

    Now the assurance and tax partners are getting frustrated. We need a leadership change in Advisory (C.P). Advisory convinces assurance and tax that if they buy BP they can make money. Deal closes and Advisory gets a bunch of staff to go over the contracts from BP. Some BP deals are cancelled, oh shoot things are not looking good and assurance and tax are not going to like it if we are in the red again, especially after we convinced them about BP. We need another leadership change, someone to take the fall, I mean someone who will take orders and get us out of this mess. Dana to the rescue!

    Emergency Advisory meeting – how can we show a profit to assurance & tax after we said BP was the answer? They are not going to supplement us anymore…….

    Let’s cut 300 employees now and we’ll save some after mid-year ARC.

  157. From a purely financial compensation perspective, how does a Big 4 (or PwC in particular) stack up with other consulting firms doing Advisory work? Every year, except this one ofcourse, we keep getting told that we are being paid competitvely, based on extensive market research.

    how does the pay scale at a PwC match up against the outside?

  158. When will we/PwC learn that the Advisory model cannot be run by lifelong auditors?! Idiots. If you want to run a true consulting practice, you don’t have auditors run it. Do we think Accenture or IBM are run by a pack of auditors and tax consultants? If you truly don’t want us to be successful, then spinoff Advisory becuase its clear on so many levels that leadership has no clue how to run a consultancy….at least in the US. Do not keep rewarding Partners who cannot sell work. That is/should be their primary job and most of the ones who have been promoted over the past 5-8 yrs can’t sell anything at all.

  159. Okay, I promised to take a mini-vacation from this blog, but it HAS been a weekend, so that’s a vacation in Big 4 terms, right?

    The recent posts on the proper management of a consultancy versus what PwC does are, obviously, spot on. (I say obviously because look at what’s been happening to PwC for the past two years.) I’m not sure that PwC’s Advisory LoS was a consistent money-loser–I’m pretty sure it had average billing rates well north of $300 versus Audit billing rates of a hundred dollars less, so with decent utilization and fantastic realization, it probably contributed to the firm’s bottom-line. But the problem was, as others have posted, that it has been run by long time audit and IA cronies, not true consultants.

    Why does this matter? Well, first most of the leadership is smart and can be decisive, but they don’t really understand what the market wants to buy. (I’ve posted on this before, sorry for a repeat.) In the consulting world, the client need is paramount. The client needs what the client needs, and all the selling in the world won’t change that. The client needs SOX, you sell SOX. The client needs ERP, you sell that. You don’t sell what the market doesn’t buy. And you can’t sell what you don’t have available. And you can’t create a need through doubling or redoubling your selling efforts to sell what you have on hand, if it is not what the client wants to buy.

    I understand that PwC Advisory has spent an huge amount of internal time and money trying to develop new client offerings and to make its current offerings more relevant to client needs, often to the detriment of its ongoing projects (and project revenue). As SOX declined, billable staff was pulled off jobs to develop the next generation Internal Audit offering. (One of my friends was HEAVILY criticized for complaining that he was pulled off a major IA job at a critical juncture to go work on this non-billable project for several weeks.) Supply Chain Management was in vogue for several months, but then suddenly most of the SCM experts were “separated”. (One of my friends was separated just after winning a $3 million SCM job but before the EL was signed. Result: PwC lost the work.) Et cetera. Juan Pujadas typified PwC leadership when he said that in his view subject matter experts didn’t make good partners, and that his LT was looking for generalists “who can deliver the firm.” Idiots. Do they think Tax doesn’t value SMEs and promote those who win work because they have an expertise the clients want to buy? By that “logic,” Shaquille O’Neal shouldn’t be in the NBA, because he can only play Center. Did I say idiots? I did? Okay, let me say it again. Idiots. When I heard about that statement, I knew PwC Advisory was doomed.

    Somebody posted above how a loss of one key Director can decimate a practice, and it’s true — especially when that SME has skills and experience that are valued higher by the marketplace than by the firm. PwC Advisory has a real history of treating people as fungible commodities, undifferentiated by skills and experience, and measuring them by internal metrics that are disconnected from the marketplace by a huge chasm. It’s got to be the height of arrogance to think your own internal metrics matter more than the market’s valuation, but that’s what they do. Idiots.

    And that’s the real problem with having former auditors run a consultancy. Even senior associates need some specialized sklls to be put on a consulting project; the clients are not going to pay for on-the-job-training at Big 4 billing rates. If you bill $250 or more per hour, you better be adding value from the start–otherwise the client’s going to feel (rightfully) that it’s getting ripped off.

    Another point I want to make is that we continue to see (at PwC anyway) people getting separated who have high ratings and high utilization. Those would be important metrics in another world, but (apparently) not in PwC Advisory. Why? Well my speculation is that each office/practice has been given a headcount reduction number from Leadership. Probably based on use of their internal metrics that continually misvalue people. Since people are inherently fungible, Mike K. just issues one of his little dictats and –boom– you have a 6% reduction. Who gets cut? Well, I’m thinking it’s those who don’t have a strong partner voice looking out for them.

    This would be a parallel to the annual review process, where the most important attribute is a partner at the table who knows you and argues passionately for you. Those without such a voice suffer in ranking and compensation. So I’m thinking those without a partner voice get separated, regardless of utilization and rating, while those with a voice get protected.

    So if PwC Advisory doesn’t know what the market wants to buy, how to properly value its people, how to retain SMEs with niche abiliities who can drive sales and utilization, and also protects underperformers while shooing out above average performers, then I would say that’s my explanation of how it got to where it is today — underperforming its peers at the other Big 4 firms and death spiraling down the drain.

    In my opinion. Based on what I hear from around the campfire. Doesn’t make me happy because I have too many friends still there (this week anyway) but, until the partners get wise and put real leaders in place who can drive the necessary cultural transformation, I don’t see any way back out for them. Might as well sell the sucker and let an equity firm run the show.

    – Tenacious T.

    P.S. –Fran, your post on the partner agreements was also spot-on. One of my friends who finally made it in (after deferral) told me she was looking to negotiate (or at least discuss) some aspects of the agreement — but what happened was that the new partners gathered as a group and everybody was told to sign the last page and the signed pages were collected en masse. It was a take it or leave it situation. She took it, of course. I’m not sure she’s 100% happy with that decision today. TT

  160. Quick question from a 10 yr. PwC advisory survivor: Does anyone know how to access your employment agreement from myKcurve (or other source, ideally without asking HR)?

    I remember signing a new one electronically when I was promoted years ago – was at a client at the time with no printer. Given current events I think it behooves us all to be aware of the details. I’ve done some looking around on myKcurve, but can’t find it.

  161. to 61 anonymous
    go to top of page > update profile> click mid page Direct access> scroll all the way down to the bottom of the personal info; click on emplyment contract

  162. 1. Why did we hire new hires that started in August within the same group with same backgrounds, then lay people with experience and service time off for “duplicate skillset” can someone explain this to me?

    2. why is it that I see associates laid off, go to PwC careers to look up openings and ONLY 2 associate positions in PNW. Where did @113 come up with 40 positions there?

    These are valid questions that ten to show:

    1. Bad leadership and planning; failed strategies coupled with sensitive behavior.
    2. Pure deception to create an illusion to the remaining staff and PR that paints an image that isnt accurate of the situation.

    I am just being honest here

  163. You can’t be a pure play consulting company when you can’t sell to half the fortune 500 companies. PwC needs to decide one way or the other what it wants to be: a compliance and internal audit firm or a consulting company. If its the latter, they need to be cut the tether with the audit practice.

  164. @notintheknow

    It’s probably more like 2/3 of public companies that PwC consulting would have an independence conflict with if they were honest about it and someone was enforcing the rules.

    Francine

  165. @TT — can you explain why there seems to be a belief by you and others that top performers don’t have a partner supporting them while poor performers apparently do. Putting 2 and 2 together you routinely comment that top performers are the ones getting canned and that is because they do not have a partner supporting them. The reverse of this is that poor performers are not gettting canned and this is because they do have a partner supporting them. I can see how these cases would happen in isolated incidents. I want to know why you think that in the majority of times it is one of these cases and why it isn’t that the majority of cases fall in the other 2 buskets (i.e., top performers with a partner supporter and poor performers without a partner supporter).

    In fact the tone of your posts indicates that 100% (or nearly so) of the time we are canning top performers and the sole reason is cause they do not have partner support. And other than anecdotal evidence — how can you tell us that this bucket is even the majority or a high percentage of the situations. Might I also add that top/poor performer in this context is as measured by you (which comes with its own biases).

  166. Anony @ 166 –

    First of all it’s not me who’s saying this — see in this thread posts #73, 107, 137, and 147.

    Second, since the firm is not forthcoming, even with its own partners, all one has is anecdotal evidence. If PwC wants to set the record straight and correct any erroneous reporting, I bet Fran would be pleased to publish a written statement. Until then, I’ll trust the posts here a lot more than what my friends are hearing from Dana. No offense to Dana, actually. I have nothing against him, he’s as much a victim as any other partner in the LT.

    Third, it’s not about me or my “biases”. Also see in this thread posts #100, 120, 131, 138, 145, and 154.

    Finally, this anonymous posting thing has really got to stop. Surely even you can see that your personal information is just as hidden when you post as “Long-time PwC Employee” as it would be under “anonymous.” All it does is add some accountability to your posts.

    – Tenacious T.

  167. Why lay-off associates and replace them with newbies?

    Answer:

    1.
    Because the firm cares more about it’s BRAND image than the commodities(workers) that actually do the work behind the brand-so the firm would rather get rid of an associate so some HR person and Partner can show up on campus and con some young minds that the firm is the best thing since sliced bread !!!!!

    2.Because if you are not an owner(equity holder),you are as disposable as toilet paper,no matter how qualified you think you are-so you can be a CPA,CFA,Haarvard MBA ….or whatever,if you are not an owner that makes decisions,you are straight-up TOILET PAPER. tHAT IS IT

  168. …and PwC continues to hit up economically hard hit clients with price increases! Hey Partners, haven’t you ever heard of variable-cost pricing and managing your business via contribution margins? Your marketing/ pricing strategies have been and still are all wrong for this economic environment.

    Hints:
    1) Reduce as many fixed costs as you can, you might have to close a few offices with short leases.
    2) Make each office contribute a set margin above their variable cost to eat into the firm wide remaining fixed costs.
    3) Reduce avoidable variable costs – i.e. Partner salaries, new staff salaries (let’s face a 22 year old will take any job now a days no matter what the salary).
    4) Go after new business with price discounts and retain old business with price discounts. Replace price with added volume!
    5) Keep the best employees that you have – they are actually your only REAL assets.
    6) start at #1 again…

    Instead, PwC has been dropping smaller audits and benefit plan work for years as “not profitable” enough.

    Well as they say, the best accountants do not always make the best business people.

  169. @169

    Harvard MBA – ha ha, I run into those at PwC all the time.

  170. Let’s really screw PwC and disclose what our compensation is so others can realize how much they’ve been screwed for all these years. I’m sure this will create another round of frenzy!

    I am a 3rd year manager barely making over $110,000.

  171. @ 168 –

    Don’t forget that first years do not have any 401(k) matching expenses. I’m not sure but I don’t think PwC kicks in any retirement contributions until after 12 months, either. Pound for pound, 1st years are significantly cheaper labor than 2nd years.

    – Tenacious T.

  172. I’m with 171… why the hell not…

    I’ll take it a step further…

    1st yr associate – 55
    2nd yr associate – 60
    3rd yr associate – 64

    1st yr sr – 67.2….

    lets just say….. my first to second year raise… was better than my promo year…. w0w- that blows…

  173. Three years with PwC did much for me. I worked closely with a Director who was a real expert in the field,was passionate about his work and was an excellent sales person. He taught me much about how to analyze data, tested me routinely to be spot-on when presenting in front of a client, and stayed connected to me even though we reported to different offices in different regions. Because of that type of support, I received high praise from each one of the clients we did work for. Unfortunately, he had been a long term employee – already enmeshed in the culture of cover your a.. and make sure you get your numbers. This mindset ensured that he had his numbers every year – regardless of the work he did (or didn’t do) on each project.

    As all PwC managers and above know, to get real credit for a job, your name must be one of 4 on a WIP. Two spots are routinely saved for Partners to get credit. That leaves only two others. When most of my projects included a minimum of two directors, you can be sure that the Directors would take the remaining 2 spots. That left the managers out of luck – 95% of the time. At year end, the managers on the projects – who did the travel, work, presentations, and helped identify and capture any add-on work – did not hit the number goals set by HR. Why? Because the Partners and Directors were not willing to share a dime of their bonuses at the end of the year.

    I decided to leave on my own after three years. One reason I left was because after being on the road 90% of the time, after receiving regular “awards” for going above and beyond expectations (working 10 to 12 hour days; taking “fake-cations”; being available to our clients at their convenience; etc.), I was never rated above a 3. Every year I was told that it was because I spent most of my time working outside the region I was being rated in. I was told that even though I was hired by the group I was working with, I could only be rated by the region that I lived in. Highly reliable sources (HR and a Director present during my ARC review) told me that only a certain percentage of people could be rated above a 3 – and the decisions were frequently made based on a personal connection with a Partner. The Partner’s I was connected with were outside my region and could not argue for me.

    Another reason for leaving was my loss of respect for the entire system that I believe you will find in any of the Big 4. It is a dog-eat-dog environment and you have to be comfortable stepping on others to climb or even just to maintain on that corporate Merry-Go-Round.

    To all those who were “separated” – do not let their (PwCs) decision attack your self-esteem. Use any knowledge or experience you received to your advantage. And know that the world outside of PwC can actually be better. As others have said before me, the stress illnesses go away, there are people who actually will respect you, and there are organizations that can and WILL pay you for what you are worth!

    Over the past year I have:
    1) Reconnected with the real me,
    2) am loving my job – excited to go to work every day,
    3) spend real quality time with my family (no stress, no blackberry / cell phone interruptions)
    4) and increased my salary by more than 1/3rd what PwC paid me

    There is not only life outside of PwC – there is a GREAT life! Good luck to everyone!

  174. senior — $110K

  175. Don’t know who one can believe… but a bunch of unknown people (with or without made up meaningless and worthless cover names) with anger, self evaluating their own skills and talents… I wouldn’t go with that. Most people are not good at self evaluation — they are either too harsh on themselves or think too much of themselves.

  176. @ 176… human society at its best..

  177. “Most people are not good at self evaluation…”

    Well the HR comedians and the partners suck at evaluating us (as has been said, implicitly or explicitly, all over this thread), so who does that leave to evaluate our worth? Put us out in the market outside PwC or the other Big 4, and see if the rest of the industry doesn’t agree with our evaluation.

  178. @170 – Harvard MBA? High praise indeed considering my meager background. I have saved two troubled companies using these tried and true techniques, how about you?

  179. It was absolutely great that Francine informed everyone that Advisory was going to lay people off. Individuals have time to prepare for this awful news and give support to colleagues that were axed. Maybe the use of the words “Auf Wiedersehen,” was not the best, but still, communicating the message early helps us all get ready.

    There are definitely a lot of disgruntled individuals – and deservedly so. But let us be honest with ourselves – did we seriously expect that layoffs would not occur in this environment? You can argue that the business model is broken, that leadership is useless, that all the good people have left, and that all the people left behind are “mediocre.” But those are the same points you hear nearly every time a layoff occurs at a professional services firm. Complain as much as you want, the Advisory practice is going to be around long enough. Right now – as with all consulting companies – they are going through a rough patch (read Deloitte, KPMG; EY, Huron). We all clearly know the risks when we sign our employment contract with a consulting company versus a corporate – the consulting company is more likely to fire as opposed to a corporate, as the corporate one can easily bring services it usually purchases in-house.

    Individuals are angry as to why they got laid off – why was it me that got laid off? In this economy, one misstep is enough to cost you. You have to play along with the rules of the system – and as much as you hate to do so. If you don’t play along, then you are simply out. That folks is true of nearly ANY company you work with – not just PwC. The success factors at a professional service firm comes down to relationship building (read: brown nosing) in the office and with clients, and quality of work that you produce.

    Remember one thing folks – you joined PwC because of its brand! The name makes you stick around for awhile. You are proud to say that you work for PwC (and heck, the pulse scores year after year indicated that). And when this brand basically says “you are simply not good enough / I am sorry to lay you off / you don’t have the right skill sets,” it hurts you pride – but again, you are able to easily secure jobs post-layoff because what you learned at PwC, and the PwC brand on your resume, makes you easily marketable – and that is all that matters now.

  180. I work in the most hated of Big 4 departments: Finance. All the stories that PwC is telling about it being a tough year and they are doing everything they can to keep as many people as possible is all a lie. I think, at the very top, they know it’s a lie. I have long wondered where the lie becomes propaganda that is believed by some subset of partners and messaged to the general population. The rank and file partners are probably telling their staff’s what they think is true because that is what their leadership has told them. However, it doesn’t take a lot of digging to realize that the words (propaganda) and the actions that the Firm is taking don’t add up. NO ONE SHOULD BE SURPRISED BY THESE LAY OFFS. They have been happening for almost 6 months. PwC is doing a slow bleed by letting people go and attrition. New spots are not being filled. Regarding trying to save staff, not giving raises, bonuses and partners taking pay cuts…that’s all for PR purposes and does NOT reflect the actual revenue from FY09.

    Here’s the real story…for PwC FY09 was the 2nd best year of revenue to date. The only year that was better was in FY06 at the peak of the SOX bubble. PwC increased revenue by $17M in FY09 over FY08 (making FY08 the 3rd best year in revenue). This is all after expenses. We didn’t get raises and bonuses and what not because the Firm didn’t want the bad PR over making near record profits when their clients were making drastic lay offs and worrying about their existence. The real question is what happened to all that money we made? My best guess is that it’s going into some little account somewhere where it will bring a real nice return, and in a couple years, when the economy is doing well, the partners will give themselves a phenomonal raise that no one will even think twice about it.

    To those that were laid off and will be laid off in the coming year, I’m sorry. In the end, PwC leadership will feel better knowing your sacrifice this year helped them to buy that yacht they’ve always wanted or that 3rd home or whatever it is.

  181. higher revenue doesn’t equal higher profits but I totally understand what @181 is saying. Afterall, PwC voluntarily offered to buy BearingPoint and acquire 800 new staff members so yes there’s money its just a matter of what direction they wanna throw it on and how successful their strategies are, we all obviously know by now that acquiring BearingPoint has not driven any massive sales (SAP and Oracle implementations) as anticipated and the number of engagements in the BearingPoint pipeline didnt even come close to what is being realized. I see BearingPoint acquired staff on the bench, but then old PwC staff get laid off while on a project because the partners cant accept their failed strategies by laying off BearingPoint people that have created a suplus in the firm and are just burning cash.

  182. @PWC125

    I doubt there’s much stashed cash given all the litigation costs. If you could see the payouts to the Leadership Team and the Top 25 partners you would see they’re using whatever cash they have to keep the payouts to a limited number of elite partners fairly stable while reducing the numbers and compensation for the rank and file partners. And then there’s the “Exemplary Awards,” bonuses averaging ~100k each to top 4% who sold and sold well.
    Francine

  183. We got the offiical note from Bob Moron(itz) yesterday [11.09] saying that “approximately 260″ staff were laid off…I am not certain how close that is to being true but I supposed I could run a headcount report to find out how many they actually did cut.

    What is surprising to most individuals that work here is that these cuts are not new to PwC. I work in US Finance and they have been shedding folks for the past 18 months using various acronyms as euphamisms to justify their actions. The first euphamism they used was “SSR” or support services redesigned where we shed about 20% of internal staff through 3 phases (HR, Finance & IT). Next it was “GSS” which of course stands for global strategic sourcing (i.e. ship your jobs to india and uruguay). Again we targeted roughly 20% of the internal organization that “lended itself to outsourcing” and again performed the tasks in waves. We are still under this GSS umbrella and will be for the next several years; moreover we are way behind the other big 4 in shipping our talent overseas. I am proud to say that I at least got a hefty severance package and until December 4th to find a new job (got a 15% bonus at a new firm effective dec 7) so I made out fine.

    I Just wanted to alert everyone to this because I look at and report on our financials every month and we are consistently under budget on top line revenue and our actuals are dwindling at a “cost cutting” rate. In fact the US finance organization has a “cost containment” group that focuses on everything from taking away styrofome cups for coffee to eliminating lunches for hard-working travelers.

    I would forewarn anyone who is thinking about starting/continuing/finishing their careers at PwC whether it is in a client service capacity, or internally; intently look at how the business is structured and listen closely to the constant lies and the change of direction that is ubiquitous here. I remember an email from Dennis Nally last year that essentially stated what others have said in this thread, “We will not be engaging in headcount reductions like our competitors….” a few months after he left and under a new CEO and CFO this proclomation was thrown in the trash and here we are today.

    If you wish to know anything I have no qualms about airing PwC out….

  184. I know the money is there somewhere. FM, your explanation makes total sense to me. I just know they are keeping the money in their pockets and telling the rest of us to be thankful we have jobs. The CFO gave a presentation to the Finance professionals in the past 6 months that he was talking about PwC enormous cash reserves and how the Firm was able to get additional financing (loans) for about $500M. He was clear that PwC is in a strong position because of it’s large cash reserves.

    To me, it’s just another disengenous action on their parts that they hope no one picks up because very few actually see the finances of the whole Firm. They have everyone so tightly wrapped looking out for their own heads that few people see the cummulative totals of everyone’s contributions. I’m looking forward to your article on partner compensation.

    To all the staff employees, what you may not fully realize is that the Firm has every incentive to make you work as many hours over 40 as they possibly can. After 40 hours you become free labor to the Firm meanwhile still charging the client 100% of those hours. So yes, they are going to cull out the one’s that cost the Firm the most. A first year associate gets charged to the client at the same rate as a 3rd year associate however, costs the Firm a lot less. The best position to be in strategically during a downturn is a first year at whatever staff level. When it comes to these decsions of who to let go they are not rewarded for maintaining technical expertise…they are rewarded for cutting costs and that means cutting the most expensive Sr. Assc. and keeping the least experienced one, and so on up and down the ladder. Being a top performer in years past just might be the thing that’s getting you laid off now…you cost too much for your staff class.

  185. PwC matches 401K immediately upon start date. You get 200% of 6% of your salary the first month(if you put 6% in) and then 1/4th of if what you put in up to your 6% going forward. Its a bad match program, but at least its a match, and at least it starts on your first day

  186. @PwC125

    The article on partner compensation was posted late Friday. Can be accessed via the main page. http://retheauditors.com

    Live Our Values, Demonstrate Our Behaviors, Support Our Strategy…

    Francine

  187. sean in DC @ 186 — my information differs from yours, so I’ll stand by my post #172. That being said, my information is a few years old (all of my contacts have now been there for several years), so it’s possible the policy may have changed since then.

    Also PwC125 @ 185 — absolutely spot-on with respect to the OT issue.

    – Tenacious T.

  188. All these professionals who are either disaffected or have been let go should start a new firm built on transparency, agility and sound business decisions… I know the barriers to entry in this game are pretty steep, but I’m sure they could give the decision makers at the Big 4 a run for their money. It seems like nowadays the main strategic initiative of the Big Firms is to support and lobby for stronger regulations. I remember the managers and partners groaning when the SOX deadline for non-accelerated filers was pushed back by 6 months, not because of the societal needs for controls at these companies, but because their extra SOX revenue just disappeared.

    They are also trying to push the consulting side where they’re just not the big players.

  189. I started with PwC about two years ago. They match your 401k starting in September of the year you join (i.e. if you join in May, June or July, the first 401k match/deduction begins in Sept). It’s definitely not the best match program out there, which I think was changed in ‘07 to reduce the amount paid out (another cost saving measure…right about when AS5 came out..coincidence?).

  190. That’s right — the partners at the B4 firms don’t care about performing quality work so, as a result, they can layoff good experienced people and keep the cheap ones. And this works cause all these partners know that a body is a body and all staff members are interchangeable for any task/assignment. Besides, if the cheaper people take longer (due to lack of skill) and do it on unpaid OT, then those partners make more money on these people. On top of that, they have deep pockets that somehow are so deep that they are hiding all the cash and instead of taking any hit themselves they are taking it solely out of the hides of their employees (either in layoffs or cuts in benefits). That’s right, the staff aren’t whiners and they do not feel they are entitled to something they have not earned, for of course every one of them has earned as much or more than any of these partners. This is exactly why their firms are failing miserably (even though that money is hiden out there somewhere)… and soon they will all be out of business and we will have no sympathy for them because they did all this with malice and intent to harm every employee even though their livelihoods depend on those employees. Oh, but we forgot — if the partners are out of business then there are even less jobs for the employees… what shall they do? That’s the ticket!

  191. For those in Advisory but do “Audit Support” work: The group has already been given quotas to offshore work and certain audit engagements are shifting to a new “delivery model” in which a lot of work is done offshore…. should we be worried that, in the not so distant future, our work will be non-existent and we will be the next to go?

  192. Let me clarify a few things. The reason for your negative comments about PwC is due to the fact that we are #1 in the world. You can’t stand to see us on top. It’s like in sports, people can’t stand the Yankees in MB and Duke/UNC in CB. PwC is like the Yankees in MB and UNC of Men’s college backetball. We are simply the best. We have the best talent. We recruit the best talent. You all have to accept that. I go to meetings/events, I tell people I work for PwC, I get immediate recognition, respect and credibility.

    Secondly, I don’t think disclosing your compensation is ethical. Do the right thing. Be a stand up guy.

  193. It all comes down to personality. People keep those around that they like.

    I work for a Big Four firm and for years I’ve spent probably 60% of my day surfing the internet/social media and 40% working. I get good performance reviews largely because I complete all the work on time (even though it takes me 40% what a normal person would) and have an enaging personality. So you think I should quit, right? I do too.

    Except – it’s hard to find a job anywhere else outside the Big 4 where you get 4-5 weeks vacation, flexible hours and the ability to go through every day working maybe 2-4 hrs. Of course I’m bored silly – but often, fear masquerades as comfort and so rather than leave and do somethign else in industry, I’ve grown accustomed to the comforts of Big 4 life. Where else can I make 6 figures while surfing the Times/WSJ/LA Times/TMZ etc half my day?

  194. #193

    Sounds like you’ve been drinking the kool-aid. “Best talent” – ha ha, that’s why our firm is filled with MBA’s and business students from the top MBA schools, right? That’s why a majority of the partners only have bachelor’s degrees (in accounting) and those who have master’s degrees went to tier 3 or 4b usiness schools. That’s why the partners can only sell work when the market mandates it (SOX), they can’t think beyond what is prescribed in the regulation and policy which any Joe Schmo can read; at PwC you get one or two smart people to read the reg and provide guidance for all the partners to follow it. Let’s face it, the really bright ones come in, figure out its a place full of bozos and get the heck out. The ones who remain are folks like you who believe that they are the best.

    You’re just kidding yourself.

  195. @193

    First, let me congratulate you on your spelling.

    Moving on, I found additional value propositions in your sports analogy (I’ve never heard one of those before!) and your absolutist position which you backed up with anecdotal evidence. Also, some things to point out;

    1) I’m sure if you’re with the right group of people (read: big fish, small pond) you’d have lots of credibility/recognition/respect/etc. Really. I mean it.

    2) I’ve met people in my years at the Firm that don’t make the cut. Too slow, not very sharp….they make up for it by working tons of hours (see previous statement on “sharpness”). And really…the Firm rewards quantity, not quality (Hello Kcurve submissions!). We have dim bulbs and bright bulbs and if you haven’t run into that by now, I have to wonder how long you’ve actually been around or the size of your blinders.

  196. The reputation of PwC was built 100 years ago for audit and tax work, advisory doesn’t have the brand. When people hear PwC, they think accountants – that’s what the advisory folks piggy back on (which hasn’t worked unless its SOX). Even then, the reputation is only because of the huge consolidation in the audit world. When people hear McKinsey, BCG, Bain, they think consultants. Unless you are an accountant, don’t think that you are the best just because you work for PwC. Even audit and tax, the business will be going off-shore soon, so, the brand is diminishing. Imagine, what we used to charge $200 to $500 per hour for audit and tax work can now be done for about $15/hour.

    Its funny how Advisory thinks they are the best consultants when they can’t even create a strategy to move itself. For that, we had to hire Bain.

    Let’s face it, if you work in Advisory, you might as well chalk yourself up to being staff aug. Most of the businesses out there attract and recruit the best, PwC has no idea what’s going on in the real world. The best we can do is to TELL our clients what to do, that doesn’t work well when you have zero credibility. We’re just going to help them with non-essential work much like a temp agency. Remember a few years ago when the message came out that realization must be at 100% or worse, 95%, well, that rule has changed. I’ve sold work for less than 30% (with no problem getting market leader approval) simply because no one is willing to pay the fees. I love when the message comes out that we had a huge win of $10M, the reality is that is costs us $15M to do the work. Take a look at average realization and margin across Advisory, we’re just slightly ahead of a temp.

  197. @193, uh, PWC Advisory is probably more like the Padres or something in the consulting world. If you’re talking about external audit, that also really depends on how you segment things. In any case, I think you have something of a “big fish in a small pond” mentality. The “best talent” recruited in audit would probably get rejected sight unseen by any respectable consulting firm.

  198. @193.

    True to an extent. I joined PwC simply because I was floored by a few of the PwC team I worked with when I was at a smaller consulting firm 7 years ago.
    I can stand arrogance, I’m there myself – because the firm puts you in situations where you have to create miracles in short periods of time. That causes self confidence.

    The arrogance within PwC is there – and some of it is rightly deserved. PwC often hired very smart, very pro-active people. PwC teams are there before the client showed up – and after they leave….picking up the ball that the client constantly dropped, threw to us, or simply didn’t even see coming. Thats what made PwC a great place to work – the contribution and time put in. It is easy to “be the best” when you compare yourself to the “normal client” – filled with staff punching 9-5 with lots of smoke breaks. But its not always the case….. PwC isn’t any better than many of the other Advisory firms – or even clients in aggressive industries (eg: Financial services, etc).

    However, the leadership – as evident from many accounts – is flawed. The decision making has become based on fear, risk aversion, and greed! Advisory has needed to be spun off entirely for years now (how many clients have you personally needed to give up due to Firm “independence”). Audit leaders understand long term engagements with recurring work, but still don’t understand running a consulting practice based on fluctuating market conditions, stiff outside Advisory competition (besides just other Big 4!!!) , or that the PwC Brand is ONLY based upon their workers and their knowledge.

  199. Windy City – that’s pretty funny. I bet you kick my butt in utilization, too, but I don’t blame you. Hate the game, as they say. And if Auditor A surfs the net part of the day and Auditor B works fewer hours but gets the same work done, all other things being equal, we know who gets the better rating, raise, etc.

    (He says, while typing a comment on RTA during the workday).

  200. Rockstar @ 99 — yes.

    How much do each of the Big 4 firms spend on “branding” and how many people are involved in making branding decisions and controlling how things look and sound because of “branding”?

    Yet the brand is only as good as the people. The brand is enhanced — or diminished — every day through interactions with the client and through the quality of the work being done. All the pretty pictures in the world won’t make up for a deliverable that adds no value but cost the client $500,000.

    Leadership has forgotten that fact of life, if they ever knew it. They’ve surrounded themselves with marketing and branding lackeys who add little if any value to the firm while impeding the work of the people on the frontlines who are actually doing revenue-generating work, by such actions as reviewing deliverables for correct verbiage, ensuring that the colors are the correct hue, and making sure that the firm’s “look and feel” is there.

    Anybody in the trenches who’s worth their salt knows the truth of this [edited] line when applied to brand management:

    “The Staff have neither the time nor the inclination to explain themselves to people who rise and sleep under the blanket of the very revenue they provide and then question the manner in which they provide it. They would rather the branding people just said “thank you,” and went on their way. Otherwise, we suggest that you pick up a laptop and get on an engagement.”

    – Tenacious T.

  201. The good ones always leave, the mediocre just languish around to become partner.

  202. Let me clarify again… Yankees of MLB, Duke/UNC of College BB, USC of College Football… go ahead just keep hating… With regards to your comment on how our talents compared to that of other professional services firm, I don’t have much to say other than to say that I would put any of my guys against anyone in the marketplace. You can continue to hate but just remember, while you dealing with anger and hate, we are winning in the market place just like Yankees, Duke/UNC, USC are winning championships.

  203. @203

    What flavor is it now? The Advisory-Kiwi blast, The Dana Mcllawin strawberry senasation, or the HR blueberry twist? Whatever it is, you’re hoggin’ it all guy! Share some with the rest of us “angry haters”.

  204. “I go to meetings/events, I tell people I work for PwC, I get immediate recognition, respect and credibility.”

    This says far more about the events you’re invited to than PwC.

    PwC is best Boise State…winning on a smaller stage with the talent left over after the teams with real prestige have signed all the blue chip recruits.

  205. PwC arent like any Yankees or USC lol, seriously, everyone might be hating on those teams but that’s its soo different, Yankees get more compensated more than most other players, USC supplies QBs to the NFL all the time, so every player wants that and I dont hear ex USC ppl or Yankees hating. PwC treats ppl badly, these ppl were recruited and left, so its very different. I am in the Tech team at PwC and what you are painting is a “Google”. We tech ppl can hate on Google but we all wanna be part of it if we can, we know they pay well, get great benefits and you dont see their ex-employees so dissatisfied. PwC isnt Google they treat ppl like shit all the time and thats why people are not happy not because of envy. This is freaking PwC not Google. I understand its got a good brand name but people are being treated like shit and they are being unfair and worrying only what people like you think of their image and pockets rather than their only and real assets – PEOPLE that’s why ppl are upset with the firm and personally, the inconsistency, constant strategy failures called reorgs just sucks, I am here now but I will tell u @203 shut up, this firm blows in many regards its no Yankees!

  206. I am sure you recall Boise State beating Oklahoma in the 2007 Orange Bowl. Boise State beat Oregon this season and is unfeated. I would say that Boise State’s recent dominance in the league can be comparable to PwC;s dominant position in the market. I like your analogy there.

    As for the comment indicating that “ppl are upset”, I would say that you are speaking for yourself. I am very happy at PwC and so are many others. It is a great place to work. The respect for the need to spend time with family, the flexibility around work hours…working with top notch clients… brand recognition, fair compensation, strong talent pool… My advice is for you to be positive, work hard, stay loyal (when your partner says jump, ask how high) and good things will happen… you are in a high performing culture.

    finally, re comment on “drinking too much”… I like to work hard and play hard… so I do drink from time to time.

    Remember this, your partner is your boss. Think about how you can make your boss look good. Do whatever he or she asks you to do and do it well. Also, respect the leadership. These guys are all very charismatic and business saavy. They know what they are doing… hang in there… stay patient. Good things will come your way.

  207. Its obvious that partners now are scared to death and wasting their time on this blog (as oppose to selling business, developing staff, building relationships, etc)…. PwC4Life, how long have you been a partner?

  208. Seriously, PwC4Life…what flavor of the week is it?

    Make your Partner look good, and get no recognition for it… that’s all you will get. Some Partners will recognize you and will stick up for you– but not many. Those who will are those for which you should stick by….

    How long have you been a member of the rank and file Partnership?

    PwC Summarized–
    Some go in from college
    Work your 3 – 5 year stint
    Get their CPA
    Leave and get a better job…

    So for most of the wiser people get the experience, get the brand, and name on their resume, and leave for a better corporate job or MBA….

  209. Glad you liked it. We should also recall Boise State beating an average Oklahoma team was the biggest win in school history. USC or Florida would have been expected to win that game, and no one would have thought twice about it when they did. Guess that’s the difference between real dominance and the pretenders.

  210. Listen man… no one is scared to death… We are all very proud of what we do… we are focused on helping our clients, delivering value, building strong relationships, etc.

    If you are scared, you can’t perform. Do you think guys likes Alex Rodriguez ever get “scared”? How about Michael Jordan or Labron? We don’t get scared… We rise to the occasion

  211. All y’all —

    Remember the wise words of Master Yoda:

    “The trolls. Feed them not.”

    – Tenacious T.

  212. FYI, his name is LeBron not LaBron LOL!

  213. whats the environment like in the audit area – specifically windy city

  214. This post was certainly one of the more informative and shocking out of the ones I’ve read today (I was recently exposed to this blog) I am graduating college in 2012…should I take PwC off my radar? Or will I not even have to worry about them by that point…

  215. Adrian Peterson was on that team.

  216. @215. Re: Graduating in 2012, and questioning about Pwc.

    My opinion about whether to keep PwC on your list is, “it depends on you”. I was floored by how great it was to work at PwC. Have a personal plan going in – and execute it every day with your goal in mind.

    I left the firm – but am a strong proponent of it – if you look at it the right way, and define your goals going in. Background: I have been in technology consulting practice, left after 6 years…I was a manager “going for director”. I left because my goal 6 years ago was to gain experience and go out on my own because I like risk.

    People will complain about pay, work hours, etc everywhere……However, at PwC I worked for top notch leaders (although at the firm, like everywhere else, they can be hit and miss to find), and my goal out of the deal wasn’t money. It was experience. I gained more knowledge and experience (by being eager, “hungry”, and willing) to pass most of my peers in industry by a grand margin (without being arrogant in any way). By putting in the time, and being eager, I’ve had the equivalent of experiences that my corporate peers won’t get until 5-7 years from now. This is due to the fast pasted jobs, and culture.

    Go into a fast paced firm that dumps a lot of work on you, and you’ll get opportunities far earlier than you would in industry. There is a trade off – you’ll work a lot, miss parties for a while, and work on the weekends. But while it is more accepted to be a lazy ass 9-5′er when you’re older, don’t do it straight out of college. Your first 5 years out of college have an enormous impact on your future. Because if you accomplish more, and have great references, you’ll be a shoe-in for many positions usually slated for those with more “corporate years of experience”.

    However, the firm isn’t a dream on a cloud. It is *MUCH* more political, and backstabbing than “industry”. But you won’t have to worry about that for your first 4 years or so. Do, however, accept the fact that you will bust ass, and at some point the firm will possibly stab you….especially as you get to Senior Management (aka Director). But – if you want the experience out of the deal – it will all have been worth it.

    My advice would be to go to someplace like the firm, accepting that you’ll be busting balls for 4 years at least. Then decide. Look at those 5 years ahead of you, what they’ve done, and where they’re going. Then ask yourself do I want that for my life.

  217. PwC is a great place to get your start. It gives you exposure to a really smart bunch of people who like to work hard and you will learn a lot while working with them. The experience is invaluable and the name is recognized.

    That said, I’m leaving after a good number of years and happy about it. I want to engage in management consulting and higher level strategic consulting and I can’t get that at PwC due to a culture paralyzed with risk aversion and a lack of clear leadership. Please keep in mind that I’m holding it to a higher standard than others might….I think that often becomes a source of friction between the ones who drink koolaid and the ones who won’t accept marketing as a substitute for true die-hard competency.

  218. Being someone who was recently laid off from GT I empathize with all the persons who have lost their job. It hurts to lose a job, especially when you are a top performer. I however look upon my experience as a blessing. GT gave no raises even if you were promoted, was not giving out bonuses, and was demanding more and more work for the same pay. I found a new job quickly and hope that those recently laid off will too. Since my departure they have gotten rid of a number of technically superior managers with incredible loyalty to the firm (working tons of hours more than they booked, and exceptional auditors who have taught many people skills other managers just don’t have), in favor of those who are less skilled but are in the right “click” with the more affluent Partners. The result has been that other loyal and bright employees have left simply out of realization that their loyalty and hard work are meaningless to the partners. If there is anything this blog and my experiences have taught me it is the following:

    The firms do not follow the advice they give to clients. They get rid of their best talent in favor of office politics and “click” mentality instead of developing those persons so that they can become the firm leaders. I have seen a number of instances where persons have given two weeks notice, and been let go 3 or 4 days early simply to allow the firm to save a few hundred dollars. It is short term thinking, and it creates a lot of long term planning issues. By getting rid of the best and the brightest, and playing these games it hurts the firm’s reputation, adversely affects future business (these bright seniors and managers of today are the CFO’s and Controllers of tomorrow, and when they lose faith in a firm, they are unlikely to send business to the firm in the future.), and could result in inappropriate persons becoming partners.

    When a firm is in financial hardship, cuts are necessary. It is a hard process for all parties involved. The only thing you can do is be prepared at any moment to lose your job (keep at least 6 months of cash needs in an account), Do your best at everything you do, and lookout for your own future first no matter what your employer tells you.

  219. I’m a senior associate who unfortunately received his marching orders last week as well. It was unexpected and I feel a bit lost as to what to do next. I’d appreciate any tips and feedback about where to go even start looking for a new job. I hate the thought of going back to a corporate climate and would prefer to stay in the consulting world.

    Thanks

  220. I completely disagree. It’s that kind of selfish attitude that hurts your chances being successful in the long run. If you look after your Firm and your boss, your own future will be taken care of. But if you don’t do this, you will end up like this guy from GT above. Listen to my advice, stay loyal, work hard, do all the right things and your future will be taken care of. Don’t listen to all the PwC haters here. It apperas they simply didn’t have what it takes in terms of business saavy and skillset and more importantly, they didn’t have the right attitude.

  221. @ 221, please. You are by far the minority at PwC. Trust me I know. Been here for many years now. Advisory is a calamity. The Firm is great at auditing and doing corporate and personal taxes for high end clients, but they know next to nothing about how to run a consulting practice. Try going to an IBM, McKinsey, Bain or Accenture and see how they run. I have been with several of them in meetings and on engagements, and they all get it. We are audit light at best and always will be until there is a true leadership change throughout the Advisory Partnership, or we sell off to someone else who gets it. Clearly the Firm doesn’t get it. You can’t have lifelong auditors running a consulting practice who have no vision or strategy for how to run and grow a consulting practice. I remember when they started the WFP, great idea to sell DoD audits, for ASSURANCE, not Advisory. Look at the US Board…..90% are from Assurance and Tax….leaving 1 or 2 reps to represent IFS and Advisory.

  222. -PWC4life

    I never said not to look after your firm and your boss. I said
    “The only thing you can do is be prepared at any moment to lose your job (keep at least 6 months of cash needs in an account), Do your best at everything you do, and lookout for your own future first no matter what your employer tells you.”

    The first piece of advice is common advice that any financial planner would give to someone, and is the same advice that has been espoused by the financial planning community to their clients for decades, and has been presented by the media to the public for a long time.

    A quick Google search gave me this link to be one of the many examples
    http://beginnersinvest.about.com/od/planningforthefuture/ss/completeport_6.htm

    The second piece of advice is essential for any successful professional. Do your best at everything you do. One of the reasons I was able to find a job very quickly after the fact was that I had a number of partners and managers who went out of their way to vouch for me and act as a reference (one Partner called a company I interviewed with while they were on vacation out of the country). They did this because they knew how good I was at my job, and they knew that the reasons I lost my job had nothing to do with performance or skill, but had more to do with the fact that when cuts were made, there were managers and partners who were more influential than them and some peoples jobs were saved not because they were good employees or producers, but because they were in a “click” with partners who happened to have more pull in the decision making process. I give the people in the “click” credit for having the foresight to ensure they got in that click, but at the same time I would prefer to be more capable and intelligent than many in the click (I have worked with many of them), then be a member. Why? Because if the day ever came for these people to look for a job, they would be hard pressed to be able to actually find anything especially in the current economic climate, while I was able to find something within 2 weeks.

    The third piece of advice is common sense, and should have been learned by anyone in a professional service firm by the end of the first year. You are responsible for your own professional development and growth, your employer is responsible for maximizing their profit. The firm as a whole does not care if you develop or not, learn new skills or not (certain partners may). When an e-mail or a webcast goes around saying that there will be no raises, or the expenses are being curtailed, and clients are disappearing, or fees from clients are declining (per engagement letters), what does common sense tell you? It tells me that the company (no matter who they are) will take the following steps:
    1. Reassure current employees that the company will do everything it can to keep them safe for as long as they can (which is in line with their goal of trying to make profit… no employees = no profit, and unmotivated employees = less profit, either way if employees leave or become unmotivated it will speed up the likelyhood of cuts).
    2. When the time comes to make cuts….. Cuts are made (again in line with their objective to make profits. the firms don’t exist to employee people, they exist to make a profit for the partners).
    The above two things have happened at almost every company that experienced a layoff that I have ever heard of, and If I didn’t know any better I would assume that it is out of a standard playbook of how companies deal with economic downturns. It never hurts to start looking to see what is out there when a company takes step 1 (you can always reject offers), and it is utter foolishness to ignore the warning signs of step 1.

  223. @pwc4life – you sound like hte consumate yes man / woman. you should know, that as a high performing person in the firm, i would eventually assess you as such if you were working for me and rate you as an underperformer after rolling you as far off of my engagement(s) as possible. your pathetic posts to this blog only strengthen the points many others have made. way to go.

  224. 221 – I should really heed TT’s advice @212, but I have to ask about your comment below:

    “It’s that kind of selfish attitude that hurts your chances being successful in the long run.”

    I didn’t follow the back and forth before this comment, so bring me up to speed – is this an admonishment of partners who hurt the long-term health of their firms by focusing on short-term cuts without asking if they do more harm than good? The ones who show questionable business acumen in burning bridges with many of their high performers, so that they are only defended by those with a minor case of Stockholm Syndrome? The ones who quote Milton Friedman when justifying their pursuit of profit at all costs, who nonetheless will be shocked when some of the ‘utility-maximizers’ at the senior and manager level leave their firms to seek out better opportunities with higher-paying jobs?

    If so, excellent point.

  225. Everyone needs to go out this weekend and read the book “Peaks and Valleys” at any Borders/Barnes and Nobles. It’s by the same author as “Who Moved my Cheese” and you can finish the book in 30 minutes.

    It’s premise – and largely observant in the Big Four – is that fear is what keeps people from changing. Often that fear masquerades as comfort. I’m comfortable in my job. I’m comfortable in my network. I’m comfortable in my skill set – so while I’m not challenged and passionate – I give in to the fear.

    From a Firm perspective – the 1’s and 2’s will leave the Firms en masse as they realize they’re being penalized for the mistakes of the firm overhead. No raises last year – prob no raises/miniscule raises the next two years. Suppose one was a mgr and made 100K. He would probably get 100K this year, 105 next and 110 the third year. For a combined income of 315. Now, if that manager was smart, business savvy and a people person, he could leave now and command 140 base with a 40K bonus – so let’s say 180. 200 yr two. 220 year three. Three years in – Guy one has 315K, Guy two has 600K. Who was the smarter cookie? Plus – the guy who left will have a higher base – and if you’ve ever talked to a recruiter – your next salary is almost always a percentage increase off your current base – so the more steps you can take the better.

    Three years from now – the guy who is now a senior manager and Big Four and thinks he can command more has a 110K base salary. The guy who left has a base of lets say 160 by now and will beat him hands down.

    If money’s what your after – now’s the perfect time to bolt.

    It the partner track is what you desire – time and expense is waiting to be completed =)

  226. “Give me control over a man’s economic actions, and hence over his means of survival, and except for a few occasional heroes, I’ll promise to deliver to you men who think and write and behave as I want them to”

  227. My guess is PwC4Life is a college student who desperately wants to join the firm. I work at the firm and I don’t know anyone with that much zeal.

  228. Sounds like certain individuals never had it to make it to the top at GT. Certainly would not have had it to make it at a Big 4. I understand some partners vouched for those individuals while on vacation, and they were not as influential and hence couldn’t protect those affected. Sounds like those affected didn’t line themsevles up with the right crowd. Also, if you were high performing, you would’ve been send to national, secondment, etc. Keep this mind, don’t let them fool you, they don’t let go of high performers. As many have said on this post, PEOPLE are assets.

  229. You can’t seriously believe that PwC4life is for real right? He is someone just working to get a rise out of people……..

  230. @220

    Let everyone you know, know that you need a job. As for help. If you aren’t on LinkedIn, go there. It sounds like a minor thing, but register for unemployment right now. And most important, keep in mind that life doesn’t end if you get tossed out. Even when the severence ends, there are ways to bring in money.

    Finally, and primarily important, you have one most important asset: your confidence that you’ll make it through to the next thing. I’m not a CPA (I’m a technology guy) but early in this decade, I got laid off and was without a job for a couple years. The toughest part was when I lost my confidence. You got laid off, not fired, and if you’re good, you’ll make it through.

  231. Last week my partner came to me and said he needed a right arm to keep his window propped open in his house, and that mine was just the right size. Of course I cut mine off immeidately. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice a little for the cause, you sould be let go. Thats the deal you signed up for when you joined. Thats what makes working for the firm the great thing it is, working together to succeed for everyone.

    I love the firm and I even have PwC underoos, so I can keep in mind what’s important in life while I’m sleeping. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to succeed and if you aren’t willing to give it, I say good riddance to bad garbage.

  232. PwC4Life=PWCorDeath, he/she will try another name again.

  233. @230.

    I echo the advice regarding unemployment…register as soon as you can because it can take a while for the ball to get rolling–I had to wait two months from the time I registered to when I got the first check. Your mileage may vary if you live in a state that doesn’t have an overloaded unemployment system [I live in CA] but I’m thinking just about every state has an overloaded unemployment system these days. Good luck to everyone.

  234. @231. This has got to be a joke right? PwC underoos?

    Here’s the thing: Loyalty to your firm and leaders is commendable. Too bad that sentiment is gone the minute you’re laid off. You will never see “loyalty” the same way. It’s a changing world out there. Long gone are the days of my father who worked for the same company for 50 years. My advice is to keep your network and resume up to date and explore opportunities ALWAYS– not only when you are “safe” at your work.

  235. My sympathies to those who’ve been let go. Get all your paperwork done, including releases, Cobra, unemployment. Don’t forget that you could be eligible for paying 35% of your monthly Cobra, while the gov’t picks up the other 65%. Get your health appointments done, and some exercise too. Enjoy 8 hours of sleep for once, and have a few nice home-cooked meals.

    And everyone else, please save your cash and keep your ears and eyes open. I’m watching my year-long client like a car accident in slow-mo – furloughs, location closures, segment realignments and reorganizations, subsidiary layoffs, corporate layoffs, shared services, and drops in credit ratings. Am currently trying to outrun the quicksand.

  236. Here are some possible resources if you’re looking for a gig.

    Check the #accountingjobs hashtag on Twitter. Here’s an article with more information: http://wthashtag.com/Accountingjobs

    Here’s an article with five references to accounting job feeds on Twitter:

    http://www.fins.com/Finance/Articles/SB125605830139196837/Top-Twitter-Feeds-for-Job-Hunters-in-Accounting

    Not sure if they’re worth much, but can’t hurt to toss them out there.

    Also, I’m pretty sure @231 is satire.

  237. Its funny, even the people who post on here thinks that PwC are accountants. 99% of the folks who lost their jobs this past week would not be qualified for these jobs @236.

    Just proves the point that the outside world still thinks PwC is a bunch of accountants. There you go PwC4Life, I’m glad everyone is so impressed when you mention that you work for PwC, too bad they think you’re an auditor. Too bad you can’t use audit as a strategy to increase market share (oops I think PwC already tried that).

    I’ll just say that I graduated from a top 50 MBA program and no one even considered PwC Advisory a viable consulting firm. I only came because my dad is good friends with a partner and I had no other offers. I don’t work hard at all, I have no clue what I’m doing, sometimes i don’t even go to work and I probably finished at the bottom 20% of my class, but I ain’t getting laid off because my dad will take business away from PwC. :)

  238. @ 170 and 172

    1st yr sr (promoted after two years) making 56k :(

  239. @237

    It took me ten minutes to find those resources. There are similar resources for just about any job type out there. That doesn’t count LinkedIn and a plethora or other resources out there. The jobs are there–there might not be tons of them right now but they’re there if you know where and how to look.

  240. -real to real

    I am trying to figure out where to begin.

    1. “if you were high performing, you would’ve been send to national, secondment”. Please clarify how performance relates to secondment? I don’t see the corolation.

    2. “never had it to make it to the top at GT. Certainly would not have had it to make it at a Big 4.”. I turned down the big 4 when I got out of college. I was the person at my office whom Seniors, and associates contact first whenevever they needed to know how to use the firm software, or get additional opinions on how to audit something, or better understanding on a number of accounting topics. When I was let go the whole office was in “shock and Awe” (you can believe me or not, but the result has been 3 other highly skilled people leaving the firm simply because they lost faith in it. Also, I hate to burst your bubble, but GT and the big 4 really arn’t that different. Big 4 clients may be bigger, but Auditing 1 large accellerated filer is not increadably different then auditing another. Cash is cash, Revenue is revenue, Liabilities are liabilities. It is just a matter of volume (ie: instead of 4 international subsidieries that I delt with, there would be 100).

    3 “Sounds like those affected didn’t line themsevles up with the right crowd” I already addressed this in post 222. I give credit to those in the right crowd, at the same time, having worked with them, I know they are not great leaders, nor are they technically proficient (heck that is why they all used to call me many times a day for advise as to how to audit). Associats used to try and get on engagements with me, simply because I taught well.

    People are assets, but when your office loses some of its biggest clients, you can’t maintain all your assets. This is a fact. If you think otherwise then you are blind either by choice or through ignorance. Just because you are very good at your job does not mean that you will always get to keep it, hense why you should always be prepared.

  241. 40 – man you sound bitter and hurt. Hang in there man. I understand it is hard to accept the reality. My advice for you to stay focused. Work hard. Be loyal. I agree with real to real. I definitely believe KPMG, EY, DT, and PwC are better than GT. You don’t get many plays with FT 500 companies. And I disagree with you in that if you lost a client, that doesn’t mean you are done. If you are high performer, you will get place elsewhere. I have seen it many times in M&A scenarios.

    PwCordeath, I agree with your attitude. It is that kind of approach and attitude towards work makes bring the “it factor” to make it to the top..

  242. PWC4Life – I am anything but bitter. I make more money now then I did before with less stress, and more opportunity for advancement, and engaging in challenging work. What makes a FT500 company so special? I have delt with complex SEC issues, been through and passed PCAOB audits clean as a wistle dealing with complex accounting issues of every type. Overseen entire integrated audits of multinational large accelerated filers. It is a matter of quantity not quality of experiance. I didn’t say that losing a client means you are done, I said that I was not a member of the more powerful click, and office politics being what they are… I ended up with the short straw as a result of the loss of revenue to my office (combined with a high middle management heavy headcount in my office).

    The company needs business for you to have a job. If I were to tell you that they offered to place me in another office, but I would have to relocate, would that make a difference? I know that someone as committed as you would be willing to move half way around the country to keep a job, but we are not all in the same situation, and some of us have other committments. I am very loyal to my employers (past and present), and I understand the hard decisions they have to make sometimes.

    You have made a number of poor assumptions. You seem to think that a firm will keep people employeed when they are not making money, and/or revenues are declining. I suggest look at the fundementals of how to run a business, and how to deal with a situation when revenues are declining, and your labor costs are the largest expense on your income statement. Logic says, cut labor. Once that decision is made, Management (partners, and the like) scurry around trying to protect their “people”. some are more powerful than others. I have seen this occure in a number of companies during my life, and I am confident that there are a number of people in this blog who have had similar experiences.

    My simple warning to you is this: If you live paycheck to paycheck you may find yourself in deep trouble at some point down the line if you haven’t built up an emergency cash reserve. If you allow your loyalty to blind your logic and ability to analyze situations, then you will find yourself in a lot of trouble throughout your life (just ask those loyal employees who lost their jobs from Bear Sterns, LB, Circuit City, etc… etc…. etc….) . “always be prepared” is a great motto to live by my friend.

  243. I can’t believe you are comparing BS, CC or LB to PwC. I guess some people have not learned much from the financial crisis. PwC is not a bank. Remember one thing, PwC hires the best and brightest from top universities… we keep top talents through high performance culture. I am sorry you feel that you didn’t fit in with more powerful/influential partners at GT.I think sometimes people tend to blame the system or circumstances rather than accepting that they simply didn’t have what it takes. My advice is exactly opposite of what you said, don’t worry about building cash reserves… (it will happen naturally if you stay positive and loyal), no need to “be prepared”, just stay focused, do whatever you are asked to do, and do them well… you will be just fine.

  244. @PwC4Life – you must either be the biggest troll on the net or the most kool-aid drunk clone I’ve seen thus far. Either way, I applaud you for your effort.

  245. To all arguing with PwC4Life –

    There’s a poplular phrase regarding “arguing on the internet” that you might want to google. (Warning: It’s language is offensive to many.)

    I remember, in my younger days, hearing many of the same arguments — and believing them. “Trust in the partners, do whatever you are asked to do–and do it well.” Those were words to live by, especially when Dave Duncan said them.

    – Tenacious Truman

  246. PWC4Life –

    Trying to argue with you is like arguing with a dining room table.

    Did the fact that the employees were loyal to these companies save their jobs (BTW: Circuit city wasn’t a bank. )? (This is a yes or no Question) If not, then your argument that loyalty will ensure employement is flawed. (or you can look at the former loyal employees of Anderson if you want an accounting firm example….)

    I realize that there is no point in continuing this conversation with you as you are either A) completly ignorent of the business world,. B) A troll, C) A lemming who will parrot the party line while jumping off the cliff into the ocean and drowning yourself.

    I wish you a long life and peace and happiness. If you are the ideal PWC employee, Then I am glad I turned them down multiple times.

  247. we are not cc nor aa. LOL

  248. It seems that this last post has caused enough of an impact to bring trolls. I guess that’s a good thing for Francine. Seeing that this is probably the first major troll we’ve had on the boards, I just wanted to let people know that the best way to deal with them is to ignore them.
    Let’s focus on what’s important please

  249. Anon and PwC4Life – It’s funny because you’re both aruging the same points. You both need to find inner peace and acceptance in who you are.

    Anon – Used to work for GT and is trying to seek validation because he isn’t in a Big Four Firm. The premise there is that one could have worked at a Big Four Firm but turned it down to pursue other opportunities – so should still be given the recognition as if he were with the big dogs. “Big Four experienced required” are the four most hated words he encounters.

    PwC4Life – Works at the Big Four but needs to seek validation from others who aren’t as fortunate to tell him know how awesome or smart he is because he made the cut and made it at PwC. The belittling of others is a mask for one’s own fears and insecurities.

    In both situations, I feel like the person has lost sight of what’s important. You. The people who tend to suffer the most from layoffs at Pwc, Deloitte etc are those who egos are so bruised that they can’t imagine not going to work at their former employer. Their whole persona – their entire being – was caught up in the Firm and the prestige they associated with it. Now that no longer is an option. What will their friends think? What will their family think? Only the weak get cut from the Big Four etc? The premise is once again – worrying about what others think.

    Focus on yourself. If you work for a small firm – relish in that opportunity and enjoyment of seeing a client from start to finish and being their trusted advisor. If you work for a big firm – take comfort that your specialized skill set is second to none in a specific fact pattern.

    At the end of the the day, or your life, the only person who is going to ask you if you were happy/successful is that voice in your head that says “I wish I would have done X”.

  250. 249- I don’t seek any form of validation, and have never indicated this. I am happy. All I have ever tried to point out in my comments is that employees need to take control of their own future and not rely upon employers to create a future for you.

    I have watched dozens of people lose their jobs (in industry, and public accounting) for reasons beyond their control and unrelated to performance (companies going BK, divisions moving and/or being outsourced, or entire firms being wiped out overnight). Many did not plan and were not prepared when their source of income disappeared.

    Many people who go to public accounting are comming right from college, with little to no real corporate life experience (and as such don’t know how to prepare themselves for hard economic times, or unexpected career altering events). All I have tried to point out in all my posts (my thesis if you like) is :
    “The only thing you can do is be prepared at any moment to lose your job (keep at least 6 months of cash needs in an account), Do your best at everything you do, and lookout for your own future first no matter what your employer tells you.”

    If they heed the above advice, they will generally be able to weather any storms in their careers, and even create opportunities out of them (as I have). Ironically many seem to suffer from long term memory problems (the above advice was probably repeated a number of times back at the begining of this decade/end of the 90’s when the tech bubble burst, and was even repeated again in different forms durin the numerous job losses of the past 2 years), and some sort of “This could never happen to me” Complex. As such, many are woefully unprepared.

    As for your last sentance, I disagree entirely.
    Do your best every day, be the best person you can possibly be, and make the best decisions you can make (and learn from any mistakes you make along the way). Assuming that is the case, you will never even think about making that statement.

  251. 49- agree with all your points except for what you said about me… :)

    Anon – is 49 stated, please be real… Big 4 is not in your portfolio… that does not mean you hate… As my b-ball player once said, don’t hate the player but hate the game… I need you to stay focus on your career, stop bashing Big 4, stay loyal to your boss, and most importantly stay positive. Be proud of GT. It is a great firm.

  252. You can ask the CEO of Overstock.com his feelings between PwC and GT =)

    From yesterday’s wire – the quote to start it off was comical.

    http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1130713/000110465909065309/a09-31176_5ex99d1.htm

  253. There are a number of companies that have switched between all the audit firms over the years for a number of reasons (from fee reasons, restatements, issuances of going concern, not liking the partner etc…)… I think the CEO is still looking for the Sith Lords that are manipulating his stock price, and he is always a hoot to listen too :)

    http://www.sequence-inc.com/fraudfiles/2008/07/09/the-history-of-patrick-byrnes-sith-lord/

    if you look at the risk factors in the 10-Q for the company this is included ROFLOL. How many companies do you know with this disclosure.

    “Public statements we or our chief executive officer, Patrick M. Byrne, have made or may make in the future may antagonize regulatory officials or others.

    We and our chief executive officer, Patrick M. Byrne, have from time to time made public statements regarding our or his beliefs about matters of public interest, including statements regarding naked short selling. Some of those public statements have been critical of the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory agencies. These public statements may have consequences for us, whether as a result of increased regulatory scrutiny or otherwise.”

  254. Most switch to us… In these difficult times… clients want trusted advisor… a proven winner… the best of the best…

  255. OK PwC4Life — get over it. If most switched to PwC then by now ALL the others would be out of business. Due to conflicts of interest and a variety of other factors — the balance of clients across the B4 is not particularly skewed to any one as far as I know. I know a couple have more audit clients than others — but it isn’t like PwC owns the market and all other B4 are an order of magnitude behind.

    I generally have trouble with much of what is said against the B4 on this blog. But PwC4Life is clearly one of 2 things:

    1) completely brainwashed and totally ignorant
    2) playing with the people on this blog and just trying to get people in a tither over his/her ignorance and stupidity

    The @254 post makes it clear — this individual (or individuals using the same handle) is just tossing out meaningless statements just to get under your skin. Well, in this case PwC4Life is annoying to those who are proponents and those who are opponents to the B4. I should continue to ignore it, but I want to reinforce to others — just walk away from such stupidity.

  256. Yes, ignore him/her by all means, but let’s recognise that those posts here, cut-and-pasted from the marketing pamphlets are one of the reasons PwC Advisory are cutting heads now.

    I went from Deloitte to PwC who were, frankly, not Deloitte’s bootlace as consultants. Every minute I used to spend discussing the work at Deloitte was spent with my “sales coach” at PwC. I got better at selling but had nowhere near as much to sell, or the quality. Plus trying to explain how the work should be done to re-sprayed audit partners took twice as long. I started to miss the value I got from the consulting partners at Deloitte after about 3 weeks. But my god did those guys believe the hype. They believed it so hard, so fervently, they were utterly blinded to their own shortcomings.

    There’s only so long you can polish a turd before the clients realise that all you’ve been selling them is shiny s**t… And advisory pipelines start to empty… and the RIFing begins… and someone notices… and then it all becomes the fault of the people who notice it happening.

  257. Fran, any credible rumors on near term layoffs in Dec and/or Jan? Mid year reviews are set to begin and they are more rigorous (ie well documented) than in years past. They seem much like year end reviews. My sense is that there will be a second round and it will be under the guise of “performance”. Perhaps, like a Tsunami, the second wave is what truly devastates.

  258. I agree ignore PwC4Life, spend your time on something more meaningful.

  259. PwC4Life, you remind me of a partner I met one year at a training.

    Most partners are just people trying to make their own success for themselves and their families. All in all, not a bad bunch. Not this guy. He was a walking, talking PR robot. I can’t even really describe it. There was no humanity in there, just firm propaganda.

    In all seriousness, one of the scariest people I’ve ever met.

  260. You have no idea. I hope lessoned learned for all is that these guys bashing PwC have no idea about the organization. They are usually from second tier firms in most cases and some couldn’t even make it there (of course it’s not their fault though because they didn’t have any “influential” boss looking out for them). I would say, ignore all the comments by these individuals. Focus on staying loyal. Work hard and good things will happen. PwC is a great organization. One individual tried to compare PwC to CC, BS and AA in making his case. We all know better. Hang in there. These are difficult times but together we can grow, deliver value and win in the marketplace.

  261. So Frances – I just saw your post on the Going Concern blog. Nice tidbit. http://goingconcern.com/2009/11/lost-your-job-no-one-cares.php#more
    But my curiosity was raised – why was the week before Veteran’s “one of the most challenging” in your 3 years. You’d think that having that knowledge and being the first to take it to market would add credibility and eminence to your blog. Did PwC try to blackmail you? Just found it odd you were in a challenging environment as opposed to a celebratory coverage…

  262. @Windy City Big4 Slacker

    Contrary to what some of my critics think, I never celebrate having to report bad news. If traffic increased as a result, it’s gratifying because that means the message reached more people and that’s my goal. The week of the PwC Advisory RIF post was challenging because never before, in the three years of doing the blog, had I experienced the kind of vicious personal attacks I did then nor had I seen violent threats made to anyone. I was shocked to see some of them coming from the PwC network. I had to up my game and formalize my Privacy and Terms of Use policies. Overdue, but still an unexpected result. I have another blog post ruminating, something like, “This is not your father’s Big 4 anymore.” It was also challenging because it take a lot of time and energy to keep up with the comments as well as all of the mail and calls that come in under those circumstances off line.

    No worries about “blackmail.” The firms are smart enough to know, maybe, that I don’t intimidate easily. One of the reasons I won’t ever work for any of them again…. And none have tried to block this site on their network, although the PwC CISO said that that was suggested by some of his superiors. So far, it’s not happening.

    Francine

  263. I find it ironic that high level PWC persons are actually considering blocking this blog. What is next? A Chinese style firewall on the server that blocks any site or organization the even remotly criticizes the firm, and an enforced background on all computer screens of a picture of Samuel Lowell Price?

  264. Francine,

    I appreciate your commentary and articles. I think its certainly a forum for discussion and an outlet for frustration. I don’t understand people complaining about you providing information. Don’t check the site if you are so opposed. Are the Big 4 glorious and amazing and always putting their people first? Of course not. But do they provide some excellent career opportunities? Of course. There are pros and cons to every large organization.

    Stop placing the blame on Francine for providing her opinions and insight. Is she responsible for a man taking his life if he’s laid off? No. What a ridiculous claim. Could she possibly give someone an extra days wanring that they might be let go… enough time for someone to grab all of their business contact information that might assist them in finding a new job…? Yeah, she probably could.

    Take it or leave it, but don’t shoot the messenger.

  265. Someone had mentioned this before but it’s worth pointing it out again. Back when Deloitte was chopping heads by the hundreds this blog was full of posts by Deloitte folk reacting with anger and frustration at Deloitte. But the reaction from the PwC crowd is very different, they are quick to defend their firm no matter what happens. Instead of criticizing the firm for making poor leadership decisions that resulted in layoffs (i.e. acquiring 800 consultants from BP and then laying off hundreds of their own consultants to make room) they chose to attack Francine for drawing attention to the layoffs.

    Makes you wonder what kind of indoctrination goes on at PwC.

  266. Francine,

    As I clicked on my bookmark to this page, and before it came up… I did wonder whether PwC blocked it on their network.. and when it came up… I was surprised to see it come up…I can definitely imagine them saying “our network, our guidelines.”

    I do commend you for doing what you do. Its not a good feeling around the office….

  267. Philip J. Fry @ 265 –

    I would not be too quick to generalize the posts in this thread as “quick to defend” PwC. To be sure, there have been some very vocal defenders; but there have been some very angry detractors as well — which is why Fran had her discussion with the PwC Chief Information Security Officer. Much like all large organizations, it’s a diverse population.

    Unlike many large organizations, however, it’s managed by auditors. With little accountability to the average “shareholder” (i.e., partner).

    – Tenacious T.

  268. I’m with TT…. there are many people who are angry at how this has been handled (myself included) as well as the leadership decisions. Internally, there are far more who are in dismay.

    At the end of the day, Audit is 50% of the revenue for the firm. We were founded and built on Auditing…. Advisory is the smallest piece of the pie….. heck… in my opinion, McIllwain to some extent is a rank and file when compared to the auditors who manage and run the firm…

  269. To answer your question, we are family. PwC is family. We love working for PwC.You guys can continue to hate Big 4. That will not change the fact that we are better than you. Especially the guy from GT who is upset at PwC. He should chill out. This is none of his business. It is a family matter. We are going to work through this. We are “right sizing” our business. We are strong leadership. just appointed new global CEO. You guys have no idea. Just continue hating. remember the sports analogy… yankees, USC, duke… they will always be hated… because they are on top. Big 4 forever!

  270. @PwC4Life

    Family? I must interject here.

    I’ve worked a lot of places. Over the years, I became attached to some of them and to many people. However, after a while I realized that I have one family – my parents and siblings and now nieces/nephews. That’s not to say that some people, in some cases the most unlikely ones, ended up sticking with me and me sticking with them like family over many years, in and out of touch, and through some ups and downs.

    The illusion that your co-workers and bosses are family and will treat you as such is just that – an illusion in all but the rarest cases. I’m not discouraging friendships or even attachments. Just be realistic about who you give your faith, hope, trust and even love to. It’s a dog eat dog world and most work relationships are situational – good when the situation suits the other person and gone when they don’t.

    Francine

  271. re 269

    “To answer your question, we are family. PwC is family…It is a family matter. We are going to work through this. We are “right sizing” our business.”

    Wow, this juxtaposition is incredible. So, is “rightsizing” *family* like an abortion…or…what?

  272. Family? An accounting firm? You wish. You can trust in one thing: your coworkers and bosses at PwC won’t hesitate to stab you in the back or sell you down the river if it saves their own skin. That’s not family.

  273. Family?

    One is reminded of the song by Sting, “Love is Stronger than Justice”. I always thought that one one of his better ones.

    – Tenacious T.

  274. @269, your kidding yourself. I just left Deloitte after 12 years, was a top ranked senior manager and was recruited to move to another office to help jump start a new service line. Had a serious blow to my personal life, communicated it to the partners I worked for, thought I would be treated like “family”, they basically kicked me to the curb. Unfortunately it was recently when Deloitte was going through layoffs and lookign for additional ways to get savings. I gave them an excuse to cut a high salary and they drove me and pushed me until they got their way – partnership next year? nope sorry, bad economic times, you need to wait another 3-4 years. Relocated for us – thats your own fault, good luck with everything. I hope those partners are choking on a nice steak dinner from the savings they earned with dropping my salary. It became clear I was a commodity, I shouldn’t have stayed on so long, because when it came down to it, I was simply a number. For years I was on the track, held out as an example, it didn’t really matter. In the end it was a blessing in disguise, there are good jobs out there, I am well paid (same as at DT), but now have higher bonus potential and equity, oh yeah and now I really know what work/life balance is, and it is not what I was buying into at Deloitte. That’s right, having mobile devices so I can respond to emails and review memo’s while at my kids sporting events isn’t balance. Some family.

    On a side note, upon rendering my notice, my advising partner told me he had no doubt I made a smart decision, if he had to do it again he wouldn’t have become a partner. Nice!

  275. @269

    Family? Which family? The von Bulow family? The Menendez family? The Manson family?

    Okay, that’s a little over the top, but my “family” is fixing to cut a lot of people out of the will. Most of these people didn’t steal the family silver and wear the antique lampshade at the latest party. They worked hard and sacrificed because that’s what was called for. And when things got slow, business had to cut costs and people lost their jobs.

    That’s how it works sometimes. But let’s stay clear on exactly all of this is and is not. It’s a business. And the people who got whacked were, by and large, not losers, except in the numbers game.

    And there are going to be more losers next year. What’s your reaction going to be if you’re one of them?

  276. I followed some of these posts, but reading PWC4LIFE makes me ill. I’ve been in Big 4 and second-tier firms and they’re for the most part, the same.

    First, let me say-Francine has driven some thoughtful discussion here.

    And second-a person like PWC4LIFE, is someone who has been so brainwashed by the Big 4 mentality that this person is the last I would want on my engagements. This brainwashing, in my opinion, sets the firms up for failure. These clones will do what it takes to make profit for the firm and bend the ethical angles to save their ass.

    This person sounds like a second year staff who is willing to sacrifice family, friends, ethics, and life for a firm that is, at the core…about profit at a price.

    Good luck PWC4NOLIFE…

  277. I commend PWC4Life’s ability to cause such a reaction. His last post evoked 7 responses so far(including 1 from FM and 1 from TT). I would like to remind everyone that there is no point in having a discussion with someone who is not willing to admit error or the falacy of their argument. I believe that the vast majority of the people who have read this blog see that PWC4Life will continue to troll around looking for imaginary insults in order to continue down a path that degenerates the intellectual discussion related to the modus operandi of the large accounting firms.

    Nothing productive can come from PWC4Lifes comments, and nothing anyone will say will change his mind. Simply agree to disagree.

  278. In all of the posts discussing layoffs I’ve noticed a theme of “it’s a business, layoffs happen, deal with it” popping up again and again. Of course it’s a business and nobody is really surprised by the layoffs, at least not at this stage of the recession. While the Big 4 are not alone in the fact that they are laying off employees they are going about it in a way that is very different than other large organizations. When most large corporations conduct layoffs they usually announce it via press release, disclose the size of the RIF and chalk it up to the economy. When the Big 4 need to cut heads they do it quietly, in small batches, spread across a long time period. They never discuss it openly in firm communications, let alone to the wider world. And every few months you get a webcast from the head of the Firm talking about how great the firm is doing..oh, and by the way, we had to “encourage some folks to leave” but that’s OK, because they weren’t really that good anyway….don’t worry, top performers like you are safe.

    By handling the layoffs with secrecy and insulting the recently laid off as underperformers they are losing the respect of their employees and creating a lot of angry alumni who will refuse to deal with the firms in the future. I was laid off earlier this year and I’ve already been approached by partners at my old firm trying to network into my new company through me. Guess what guys….it won’t work. Not only will I be sure NOT to hook up my alma matter but as new proposals comes through (and they already have) you can count on my voice endorsing the other firm bidding on the work. Payback….it’s a real bitch.

  279. While smaller firms — I have experience with other firms doing layoffs in exactly the same manner as the B4 have done it. I find nothing unusual about their approach.

  280. @279 – I’m sure the Big 4 were not the innovators of the layoff-framed-as-performance-issue termination, but the point I’m trying to make is that when most large corporations reduce headcount due to economic reasons they announce the layoffs publicly as part of a cost cutting measure. When Citigroup or Caterpillar or General Motors were forced to reduce headcount they simply admitted that they needed to cut costs and they stated the size and scope of the upcoming layoffs.

    Had the Big 4 approached their layoffs in the same way then I would accept the “it’s just business, layoffs happen” explanation and leave it at that. But that’s not how they approached their layoffs, they chose to insult the recently laid off as underperformers and they chose secrecy over candor in regards to communicating the layoff situation to the rank and file. Not exactly the best way to maintain goodwill with people who will one day be the clients you’ll be pitching future proposals to.

  281. Leadership decision to create a TA position has now obviously been proven to be a bad decision. Most TA’s are underutilized and some EA’s are overwhelmed with work. So what to do about this horrible mistake – pressure the TA’s relentlessly to get work, get work, constantly pressure the directors and managers to delegate, delegate and it still isn’t working. So again how are “they” going to fix this problem, EASY – terminate a number of TA’s who are underutilized, I mean why pay folks to sit around and do nothing, right? Leadership will not admit that this was a bad reorg move of the admin staff and rather than attempting to fix it, the TA’s will be the fall guys. Prepare TA’s – its coming.

  282. @Dumb Decision

    Please explain the role of a TA.

    Francine

  283. @280 — I think the mistake the B4 made was not doing performance reductions in force all along. The people I have seen recently RIFed in the guise of performance reduction actually seem to deserve it (but I have only seen 2 such cases). My practice/office has barely been hit by the layoffs and performance cuts (a total of 3 out of over 50) — probably because our partner has done a better job at terminating or counseling out people who are under performers even during the good times. So I do not have the recent experiences others do. That said, my belief (based on looking at other practices and offices) is that way too many poor performers are kept on and even told that they aren’t poor performers. So the mistake that was made was not being honest before and then deciding to be honest now… should have been honest all along. I do have to blame some of that on the legal situation regarding employment laws. It is actually very hard to terminate someone for performance reasons. Due to the fact that everyone can claim they belong to some minority group or claim they were terminated for a reason other than performance… it takes years to document and terminate someone for cause. In many states there is “at will” employment — but the fact that so many people sue firms when they are terminated means it is cheaper to keep them on until they choose to leave than to take the risk of terminating them. This added to leadership not being able to adequately review and communicate the review results — means that some people are being surprised now.

    You are right that large RIFs are announced and then executed more openly. I think things could have been done better, but I don’t think it has been a nightmare of horrific proportions. We knew that it was coming and when… we didn’t know the exact day – but we were aware and information was accurate within a week. Yet I have to admit that this information was not formally announced. My understanding (and to a large extent I accept it) was that decisions were not final until the last second. I do know that in my practice/office the numbers changed dramatically — seemed to bounce around from laying off several to in the end only 1. Should the partner announce that 5-10 people may go when the decision isn’t final — and in this case only 1 went? I think all the partner can announce is that layoff decisions are being discussed.

  284. Bottom line: the cat’s out of the bag. Cuts are happening, with more to come. How’s your network? Are you on LinkedIn? Is your profile current? When you move from one gig to the next, do you keep in touch with people, even if it’s just a quick hello?

    The morality of the cuts, who’s getting cut, and how the cuts are being announced and, ummm, executed–all this is important, but pragmatically, it’s time to look out for yourself. Before P4L gets all constipated over that statement, you can look out for yourself as a natural outgrowth of doing your job well. It’s not mutually exclusive with competence and being a team player.

    Make your customers, both internal and external, want you back. Do the great job you normally do, but show them you care about them and they’ll care about you.

    And if you know someone who’s looking, do what you can for them. People remember things like that. Call it karma, cosmic justice, or the Golden Rule, I know some very good and useful people who aren’t going to be employed in two weeks. There but for the grace of God and all that. It could have been me. It almost was me. And next time, it might be me. Better to make hay now, while the sun shines.

  285. Francine

    TA = Team Assistant

    TA’s are former EA’s (Executive Assistants)
    A decision was made to create the TA role to support Managers and directors. Some managers and directors supposedly complained that they did not have enough admin support because EA’s supported primarily the partners. The process was lenghty, expensive and stressful. On “redeployment” date each EA had a scheduled appointment with up to 3 people to inform then of their new role and assignment, some EA’s remained EA’s but took on 2-3 additoinal partners and many moved to new locations. The EA’s that were redeployed to the TA role was assigned up to 15 managers and directors to support and also moved to new locations. Almost a year later it is obvious that this lengthy reorg/redeployment process isn’t working. TA’s are underutilized because many directors and managers are self sufficient and do not delegate their admin work or rather than sharing a expense code with the TA they will do the work themselves. The admin staff now has a utlization goal and they are pressured to meet that goal “or else”. TA’s are seeking work that simply isn’t there, the managers and directors do not need full-time admin support. It is rumored that PwC leadership recognizes that this was a bad move and we are now waiting to see what the plan is to fix it, but TA’s generally expect that it won’t be fixed. The solution is simple – terminate some TA’s.

    Francine, hope that answers your question.

  286. @ 283 – I wouldn’t dismiss this is as simply an overdue house cleaning. When a large office undergoes 4 separate rounds of RIFs over a 12-month period it’s going beyond simply clearing the dead wood. Round 1 is where you see the true poor performers separated. But it’s pretty obvious from the tone of the year-end performance meetings that by rounds 3 and 4 they’re just looking to make cuts to reach a target headcount and solid performers are getting cut as well. All of which has a legitimate business purpose (reducing expenses) but the PR spin of framing these RIFs as purely perfomance related (as Deloitte’s Jim Quigley so callously did during a recent CNN interview) is insulting and sleazy. I couldn’t imagine the CEO of General Motors having the stones to layoff hundreds of factory workers and then go on CNN and say that the recently laid off were not a good fit for GM.

  287. @Dumb Decision

    Thanks for the details. I missed this latest clusterschmuck. Was this a McKinsey recommendation? Did leadership react to a few whiney Managers and Directors and do this or did they resist cutting what is probably a slew of women, many over 40, many possibly minorities and thought this would be a way to avoid that?

    Administrative staff – how to deploy them, utilize them fully, and justify their pay – is probably one of the thorniest issues for all the firms. For example, I never understood why the financial admin staff at PwC also had utilization goals. Either you are support staff, or not. Either you have to have someone who specializes in working with the system and making sure all of the billing and reporting is set up correctly, or not. The charge goal does just what you described – incentivize client service professionals to avoid using the administrative staff and not perform the tasks that are required or not do them well in order to hoard hours for themselves.

    Francine

  288. Francine,

    Yes, McKinsey along with a PwC project team created this new model. It was a part of a “support services re-design” project – an extensive cross-functional review of the existing support services was conducted to find opportunities to improve how PwC supports client service partners and staff. The process consisted of 3 waves. The admin staff was the 2nd wave.

    I’ve heard that is was a just a few whiny Dirs and Mgrs that complained and leadership reacted but the very point you bring up regarding not cutting admin staff is a point that people are now speculating and wondering was the real intent. Was this redeployment of EA’s to TA’s just a smoke screen? Morale is low amongst the EA/TA staff, there is a distrust of the HR team. There is a general feeling that something is definitely up, I’ve heard TA’s make reference to cleaning out their desks, taking personal items home so on D-day when HR and perhaps security walks them to their desks they can pack up quickly.

  289. @286 –There’s plenty more dead wood to clean out (at all levels)… but I cannot speak for PwC or D&T… not my firms. I would not expect that the dead wood is gone after round 1. It is very possible that they tried to keep round 1 to a minimum. It is very possible that all decisions on who to let go were not good decisions and some good wood was cut from the tree while some dead wood remained behind. Decision making in terms of numbers to cut, practices to cut, and people to cut are not perfect decisions… so I would expect that it would take 2 or 3 rounds before all the house cleaning is done. But it seems that most of the B4 have had those rounds — at least D&T has — so maybe the dead wood should be gone now. My office/practice — zero people in round 1 and zero in round 2 and zero under the performance guise… there have been no other rounds. We have more dead wood.

    In a perfect world the company would have no dead wood, they would announce a # to RIF, the # would be the right number of people to get through the economic downturn, the decisions on who to cut would be made on metrics that make sense to everyone. None of this is possible… it requires having a crystal ball to predict the future of the economic downturn and its impact on your firm; it requires that all decision makers have the same criteria to make decisions and are equally capable of evaluating people fairly and honestly. It is an imperfect science. That said — it still seems that D&T has been pretty far off target in the way they have handled it… but my information is from this blog and I cannot tell how unbiased or reliable that information really is.

  290. Fran,

    My sources tell me it was a cost-cutting measure, pure and simple. It happened relatively concurrently with the cuts to other back office staff (e.g., IT support) and the “centralization” of the billing function. (That latter bit was a big a Charlie Foxtrot as you’ll ever see.)

    As I understand it, the plan was to let the EAs focus on partner timesheets, expense reports and trip planning, while the TAs would focus on supporting the Managers & Directors with admin issues related to engagements — thus the drive to make the TAs billable and track utilization metrics. The thing is, the PwC accounting system is so complex it actually takes a specialist to run the engagement status reports, so there actually was a role for somebody to do that … if the push on the TAs to hit utilization goals wasn’t so omnipresent, which led to (shall we say) enthusiastic time-charging by the TAs.

    Bottom line– take the universe of EAs/TAs before the restructure versus afterwards — and you see some “group shrink” plus the set up for TAs to get RIF’d downstream on performance issues when they can’t make their utilization goals. Machiavelli ain’t got nothin’ on PwC.

    Again, that’s what I’ve heard. So take it with a grain of salt, unless somebody currently with PwC wants to confirm or fix my errors.

    – Tenacious T.

  291. Other firms are also restructuring the admin functions — some is being offshored, some centralized, and much is being automated in order to justify RIFs for the support staff. I have seen a lot of activity in this area.

  292. Drivebys happening in the NY office this week. 5 in my group let go today, 3 yday. Just before the holidays? How tacky. Maybe they think that enough people took of early and the 4 days would lessen the blow for those left behind…. If you are not best friends with your managers or in some useful clique, my advise is to start looking… b/c if they are doing this now, what’s going to happen after reviews are released?

  293. Appreciate the comments by “Dumb Decision” and agree wholeheartedly. Only in my case, I was an EA who was terminated Nov 12. I tried to get help for my excessive workload. Talked with higher-ups, HR people, one in particular took a real disliking to my open, direct communication style about the whole EA/TA reorg thing. Result? Fired.

  294. can confirm the NY layoffs for tax professionals. I agree that doing this right before thanksgiving is not in good taste.

  295. Many firms do layoffs around the holidays — usually because 12/31 is their FY end. That isn’t true of any of the B4 that I know which means doing it at holiday time is rather cruel.

  296. Deloitte Dallas started its tax layoffs in December of 2008, immediately before Christmas break. The partners chose the holiday time period to implement layoffs, because so many people are taking vacation and it is less noticeable that someone is gone. When the person’s absence is noticed, the deed has already been done. Contrary to when a person leaves of his/her own will, the person being laid off usually does not send a mass goodbye message. Personally, I think they should, but the firm makes them feel shameful enough so that they will leave quietly.

    Being laid off during the holidays is particularly hurtful. It is a time of year when people reunite with their families, and what good news do they have to share? Also, because most companies are not hiring the last few weeks of the year, the person can do nothing to remedy his/her situation. The firms realize this, and it is a means to contain the layoff news a little longer.

    Question: what are the firms trying to protect? Their reputation?

  297. One could argue that the holidays can be a peaceful healing time. One can argue there is no good time to lay people off. While for some the holiday time is more hurtful — me thinks you are reading a bit too much into the motivation of the timing of layoffs. Even without a 12/31 FY close — there are metrics that matter on a calendar year basis (maybe taxes?)… and there may indeed be other motivations for such timing decisions. Certainly it isn’t pure malice on the part of evil devil-like partners — whose sole purpose in life is apparently to see how they can make their employees’ lives miserable. Me thinks they would much prefer to not lay people off because they could be making money if they had a larger staff that was indeed — WORKING.

  298. @296 @297

    Why do the audit firms cut at holiday time? Some possible reasons.

    1) If they can do it in an “orderly” way and have HR and a few bottom-of-totem-pole partners do it at the quiet holidays when everyone is out, then fewer others have to see and deal with the unpleasantness.

    2) In spite of year-end audit or tax busy season, overall less people are utilized, maybe taking vacation, maybe not billable/assigned because clients are not working, maybe getting in that year end under the deductible medical procedure. The lower utilization is especially obvious at holiday time. When I was in consulting, unless you were involved in a go-live systems implementation for Jan 1, you were strongly encouraged to use up vacation time during holidays so your time reduces firm liability for PTO vs bench-time that reduces utilization metrics. (The other time you were encouraged to take all your time off was at fiscal year end, May-June so accruals for unused PTO were minimized.)

    3) Maybe there is this deeply held idea that most people are around family at the holidays and then can get more support. However that is counterintuitive to the idea that you feel most helpless for the longest time as another commenter said. You are on hold to do anything , even contact outplacement services if anyone s still getting those, until after first of the year.

    Francine

  299. They time their layoffs based on busy season for the respective functions. Audit waits until the Spring before they do layoffs, Tax has two busy seasons (October & April deadlines) so they time their cuts accordingly. Systems auditors tend to be busiest in Novmber so the holidays are prime time for those cuts. Advisory has no busy season so it’s open season all year long.

  300. I think folks who are in PwC Advisory would agree HR should be be included in the layoffs, but probably after layoffs slow down, since they are busy attending the “Partner Discussions” now. The majority of HR staff are horrible, they do nothing except create utilization reports for partners and send out emails about updating Retain. They do very little to connect staff to real work.

  301. PwC hired McKinsey a few years back when times were good and they helped come up with
    1. Give partners best EAs and with the remaining ones rename them to TA….TAs work for up to 15 managers and must be billable- so too many people to be effective
    2. HR- one HR rep per market team and they dont do scheduling- so in other words they have half the work load do a 10am-4pm day and shake their heads at lack of utilization
    3. Scheduling is now done by portfolio manager….this would be fine, except they have to be chargable so dont dedicate time to the job and play retain like tetris just filling in the gaps as they delegate it to a PTS admin persone

    The entire structure is wrong at the admin level no one has accountability- but as this is the McKinsey way…. are stuck with it- imagine pwc consulting was too crap to come up with how to do the admin for the audit side they had to hire other consultants- and this is clearly going to lead to lay offs
    To be honest I dont knwo why there are so many HR people- they are overhead but given HR are hellping with the lay off plan, its a bit obvious they would exclude themselves

  302. @ 296…

    There are three important dates for the PwC Partnership…

    April 30 – This is important due to performance reasons…. June 30 – This is important for them because its their Fiscal Year end…. all Partners are scrambling to bill ad for those who are over their goals, will wait until July 1 (or July 5) to issue bills for next years’ numbers…. September 30 – This date, not many people know about (except those in tax), since prior to this date, any moneys the Partnership receives, they must pay taxes since its cash in hand. Any monies received on or after October 1, they must pay taxes in the next cycle. I’ve asked the Partner who I usually work for and he hasn’t mentioned any significance of 12/31 except that its a calendar year end… (although he could also be withholding information).

    I agree with 297 – Francine’s #2 comment where she states that people are usually less busy around the Holidays which is completely true…. In consulting, companies to not want to accrue a liability right before their year end (for those w/ a 12/31 YE). They’ll start spending the next year and take time off (get lazy) during the holiday season. At least in my practice, it gets slow in the summer, and winter… unless a Partner landed a huge project which will put food on the table for a consistent year or so… luckily, we’ve had a few year long engagements lately…. I’ve heard from high up that these engagements actually save our butts… obviously…

    The theme that I keep seeing above from everyone is — be prepared, continue your connections, always be on the look out for more…..

    … oh– and don’t forget to tip your waiter because its good karma :-P

  303. Correction – saved our butts in the past… i.e. saved layoffs….

  304. Unblievable… guys from small time firms… talking big time game… How could you listen to career advice or PwC circumstances from some guy who couldn’t make it at GT? let me tell you this, PwC is doing just fine. Yes. We had to “right size” our practice but this is sign of a healthy organization. The premier firms like EY, DT and KPMG all experienced it. Just because you don’t get the same recognition or respect when you say that you worked at GT vs. the “premier” firm, that does not give you the right to create less than desirable illusion about PwC’s internal matters. To all PwC and Big 4 members, hang in there. We are well respected. The profession needs you all. Be good to your boss. Do as told. Be loyal. You will be just fine.

    To others, yes it is true that we are Duke, UConn, USC, etc. but don’t hate the player, hate the game… It isn’t our fault we get the best and the brightest out of schools. I am sorry you weren’t good enough to join our family. Yes you didn’t make it at GT. You claim it was due to not being connected to “influential” partners. well I got news for you… That is part of the game. You got to stay loyal to the guys that can make a difference. You got to have that business sense.

    KPMG, DT, EY and PwC will rule forever whether you guys like or not… remember that.

  305. awkward silence in the room……………after post #304. anyway.

  306. @304 had nothing of interest to say — and who the heck is he/she talking to who is declared GT?

    To the others saying the holidays are slow — that is not my experience. I am working this weekend and had to call 3 people yesterday who will be working through the weekend. My particular practice and more importantly sub-practice has been flat out busy for a full year. My staff are in the 80%-98% utilized on the July 1-present year and that includes vacation time taken. We are interviewing several new candidates next week. We are likely hiring 1-2 others who were interviewed last month. We have 3 new hires that started last month and are already highly utilized. Regarding the holidays — generally I have work all through the holidays each year. At the moment — my team of 5-8 people and our office of ~45 are very busy and it is looking good.

    Just want you to know that in some areas of the B4 there is business and we are not fearing layoffs. The news is not all gloomy — there is hope to pull out of the recession.

  307. @306
    “Just want you to know that in some areas of the B4 there is business and we are not fearing layoffs. The news is not all gloomy — there is hope to pull out of the recession”

    Don’t fall into that trap. I’m just saying.

    When they lay people off, it’s not necessarily the ones with low utilization. Don’t let your business lull you into a false sense of contentment. 2 cases in point, in my office (ny) someone was fired the day after he was in the office till 2am. He was booked solid for the next 6 months (IM is always busy). One of the other people that was just let go was one of the “lucky” ones that was permanently assigned to a big client that was busy year round. He hardly ever came into the pwc office b/c there was always work to do at the client site.

    With this last round of layoffs in my group, there was no obvious determining factor. Maybe to make space for the 16 new hires we just received. I agree that they do it over the holidays so that by the time people come back, it’s not “news” anymore. People will talk more about how their holidays went than who’s missing. It makes good business sense.
    It just sucks that these people will go to a holiday they were probably looking forward to and be depressed. The empath in me feels their pain.

    Remember, pwc is not calling these layoffs (that was reserved for advisory) so none of these people are getting any kind of severance package. I know this motivated me to start beefing up my savings… i’ve been looking to get out for the past 3 months and the job market has not been kind. I can’t imagine how frantic I would get if i had to keep searching and i didnt have a job.

  308. Exactly. I wanted to silence all the nonsense talk about PwC and Big 4. Looks like I have been successful. I will log off for a few days but take comfort in that I will log back on if necessary… I doubt I will need to do though… I knew the crowd you finally get it. Perhaps they are not that ignorant and jealous afterall.

  309. The following poem probably says it best.

    In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

  310. @308 could not make less sense… I have no idea what this person is saying or refering to. This person does not appear to be educated at all based on the grammar, writing style, and the inability to make a statement nonetheless present a position or argument.

    @307 — you are correct that there are more factors that go into layoff decisions than utilization. High utilization just keeps you from being the first tier to be considered. My point — the team I lead has been overworked for a full year and there is no end in sight. Add to that the fact that no one with the skills associated with my team has been laid off in my region, and that there has been only 1 layoff in my office/practice… there is some security. Now add to that the fact that my partner realizes we need help and we are hiring and keeping our new hires that just started.

    I agree that if layoffs come up again, my partner might need to make selections and no one is truly safe then. But, the partner would not cut the highest revenue producing group. There are plenty of factors in the decision… but being busy and having that be something that has proven recession-proof… is a big security blanket.

    You can’t live your life in fear and being a victim to circumstances beyond your control. Look for what is working, make it the best it can be, and hope that luck is on your side. There is no point in looking at it all through rose colored glasses nor looking at it with anger and resentment anf fear. Right now – I do with certainty know that my team will not be touched unless they perform poorly or put themselves in a bad political position. They have the business to support them and all they have to do is work within that system in a fair, honest and constructive manner. It is possible a couple could get laid of with high utilization — but it would be because of certain behavior problems combined with a willingness to replace them (to see if we can get what they bring to the table without the behavior issues).

    Again I say — the news is not all gloomy. There is work and there is a pipeline and backlog. Given this, the way to keep yourself employed is to do good work and network properly.

  311. PwC4Life – I’m a fat-assed partner in the market for a lickspittle, although I would settle for a sycophant or even a toady. I offer hard work and long hours, but at least the pay is low. Are you available for hire?

  312. @PWC4LIFE

    Have you actually bothered to figure out who has been cut and how it will affect the business from a staffing perspective? I’m not sure how out of touch you are (your posts would suggest quite a bit, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt) but on large projects for multinationals with existing staff shortages cuts were made. Not only are there not enough people to do the work that needs to be done, but the existing staff is hamstrung by these arbitrary “corrections”. You call it right-sizing, but from our clients perspective there’s nothing “right” about not being able to deliver work promised or at visibly lower quality.

    A lot (but not all) of the cuts have hit technology staff, generally people with deep technical skillsets from what I’ve seen so far. The key here is that these skillsets do not often overlap with ERP related technologies. PwC is putting more of its eggs in increasingly few baskets and while the pot of gold may be at the end of the SAP rainbow.

    It’s a very aggressive move at the cost of business agility which speaks to either confidence in future business or desperation. Seeing how that whole “Grow 15%” thing worked out….my money isn’t on confidence in future business. Yes, PwC will live on forever and will sell something to someone for as long as they want to…the prestige of the Audit practice guarantees that…but the people who are left in Advisory face the very real prospect of a zombie-business which is more and more dependent on a successful (and risk averse) Audit practice.

    You know, I never really got the old saying “The smart ones leave, the dumb ones stay, and the average ones make Partner” before now…but now I’m starting to see where it comes from.

  313. @311 and 312

    if you look at the last 100 comments, you will realize that trying to have an argument with PWC4Life is pointless. He/she is the definition of a web troll

    While I hate wikipedia as a source, here is a link to a common definition.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)#cite_note-oed-3

    The best recommendation is to not engage, do not bring yourself down to his/her level, and ignore him/her until he/she goes away. I encourage FM to stop allowing the posting of any more nonsense related to off-topic conversation (if that means not posting this comment, then so be it). this appears to be degenerating into something petty, which is below the standards we should all hold ourselves to as professionals.

  314. Geez. I was just trying to defend PwC and Big 4. Why do think FM should not allow my posting? Isn’t that a bit unfair? Should we provide readers with a balanced view on things rather than one sided view from someone who has never been part of the Big 4 family?

  315. @313 — thanks for the definition of Troll — based on usage on this blog it always just seemed to mean someone the bulk of the posters don’t agree with or someone they don’t like. I believe I have been called a Troll and I know I have been called a partner — just cause I offered some other perspectives. The Wikipedia definition of Troll does seem to apply to PwC4Life. But the idea of not posting someone’s comments turns into a filter that by definition will be biased to that person’s (FM) thoughts on what posts are of no substance and posted with intent to invoke emotion rather than substantive responses. I think that PwC4Life is trying to post comments of substance — just can’t, either due to lack of the ability to engage in discussion, disorganization of thought, English issues… not sure what the problems are. I’m not sure that PwC4Life is malicious or ignorant or stupid or just disorganized in thought. I would not be opposed to not posting PwC4Life because I think it is troll-like behavior… but I’m not sure FM would want to be making that decision on a post by post basis.

  316. PWC4life,

    1. Are you infering that FM was never part of the Big 4 family? if so, I suggest you read her Bio again (if you have ever read it). She worked for 1/2 of the Big4 (including PWC).
    2. you should be allowed to post your opinions as related to this topic. I am refering the off-topic items and items that appear to be nothing more then name calling and insults going back and forth. As for your actions, well they speak for themselves. Instead of presenting evidence to support your assertions and statements (examples), you insult the commenter, in turn others insult you back, resulting in a downward spiral that leads nowhere good. Perhaps instead of stating PWC and the Big4 are the best because you know so, and then infer that everyone who was laid off, or who chose not to work/were not given offers with the big 4 are not good enough, you should instead show people why PWC and the big 4 are so great…… Do you know anyone who lost their job in a recent BIG 4 Layoff? Did you ever work with them? were they really deadwood? What is the difference between those laid off and you (other than the fact that you still have a job)?

  317. @ PWC4LIFE

    There are plenty of ex-PwCers in this thread. In fact, all of them disagree with you.

    How’s that for a balanced view?

  318. @313 – Many off topic discussions, and/or comments that should be on other posts (such as salaries being posted in big 4 starting salary blog posting instead of here) are occuring. There are also instances where people disagree with eachother (which is fine), but instead of disagreeing with the statement they simply be-little the commenter. I know I am opening a bag of worms here, but we should not be belittling commenters if we disagree with their statement (this goes both ways…. IE: PWC4LIFE calls the commenter unqualified, and/or commenter calls PWC4life an idiot)…. nothing productive comes from that chain.

    I refuse to believe that PWC4Life is incapable of posting an organized and thought provoking argument in support of his/her position, especially if he/she works for PWC (or do they no longer require memos in public accounting). It is morel likely that either they do not have any arguements to present, or are too lazy to write them. Either way, this individual has chosen to simply try and discredit the messenger, by insulting them.

    Everyone should be able to post their opinion on this blog topic. There is a big difference between presenting a different opinion and supporting it with examples of some type, vs trying to enflame the messanger through insults because you chose not to address the message that is presented. (This is the same lunacy that has repeated its self time and time again throughout history, just look at Galileo Galilei who was declared a heretic by the inquisition as they could not disprove his science).

  319. seriously,
    most of you are smart. you can clearly see that pwc4life is a troll. Don’t feed the trolls. it doesn’t mean insult him – it means just ignore him and carry on. Take the time to read all he wrote – it’s clearly just stuff meant to get people worked up and it differs from when you have people that don’t mind working at the big4 post and offer another point of view.
    Sample
    anon: Why would pwc cut its most productive players? It makes no sense, I don’t understand the system.
    pwc4life: What are you talking about? PWC is great. You clearly are not a good fit with the company. I doubt you’re actually productive.

    I’m tired of coming here and seeing the last 10 posts directed at this person (This post included). That’s what trolls do. Derail the conversation. Please, let’s ignore it and move on. You’re not going to convince him of anything (because he doesn’t actually believe most of what he’s saying. He probably doesn’t even work at PWC) so stop trying.

    Let’s move on
    Thanks

  320. Just want to be clear. PWC4LIFE is not representative of the people at PwC. The vast majority of the people here are very bright, talented and hard working folks who were lured here the same way I was. Judging by the level of maturity and analogies in his posts, I think we can all agree that whoever’s behind the keyboard at PWC4LIFE’s computer is either a troll or a fresh-out-of-college associate.

  321. “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” Socrates

  322. 19: I couldn’t disagree with you more. You are simply wrong. I think balanced view is very necessary. To me, you sound like a guy who watch MSNBC all day long and don’t look for a balanced view on things. I think you should try watching Fox News as well. Your views on Big 4 and PwC might not be the only perspectives. In fact, I am sure many of us would disagree with you and just because we do, that does not mean we should be completely shut out of the system. That kind of practice only exists in places like China and North Korea.

    FYI – PwC recently implemented RIF to right size its practice. I feel emphathy for those affected. Your actions are clearly insensitive and distasteful. Don’t bash PwC and those affected. It is simply not appropriate.

    Also, don’t call me a troll just because you think I didn’t know francine worked at Big 4. My comment wasn’t implying that at all. that comment was directed at the guy who worked at GT.

  323. PWC4life-

    you are a troll because your definition of defending the big 4 is to attack people instead of trying to present a supported argument. You present no facts, add no value to the conversation, and instead make general insulting statements directed at people. If this is how you really are, then your professional life will be very short and unsucsessful, because substance always trumps form. Ironically, your every word lessens the prestige of PWC, the firm you so wish to defend.

    The only one bashing those effected is you, and you offer no advise or help to them, and only insult them for things that they had no control over.

    Either make a comment worthy of your supposed intellect or go back under your bridge.

  324. I don’t understand why you are being so offensive. I found your comments distateful. Why don’t YOU try to “present a supported argument”. I find your continued belittering remarks unacceptable. You are a troll. I won’t be speaking with you. If you think you are so cool, why don’t you reveal who you work for? Aren’t you a little embarrassed? Can’t match up to Big 4? There is an old saying, if you can’t hang with the big dogs, then stay on the porch – which sounds like where you belong.

    As for all PwC member, hang in there. Don’t worry about what you read here. The accusations simply aren’t true. Our leadership is strong. We just appointed our new Global/US CEOs. We have a strong middle/regional management team. Our market leaders are staying up all night thinking about the next big thing. You guys will be just fine.

  325. PWC4Life-

    How is your leadership strong? How does the New CEO help PWC? Clarify as to how the middle/regional management team is strong? have you been staying up with the market leaders? How do you know they are up all night?

    Did you know anyone who lost their job? what advise do you have for them? were they loyal to the firm and lost their jobs for reasons beyond their control? What advise would you give them? What makes those who lost their jobs so different than you?

  326. Don’t ask questions… present your case (do I sound like someone?)

  327. @PwC4Life — additional questions to get to the substance here…

    please explain ‘hang in there’ — should they just sit and wait, or what actions do you recommend they take to improve their position and PwC as a whole?

  328. Can anyone share their experiene with the ability to negotiate severance or its pretty much a done deal? Take it or leave it. What they have offered us is peanuts in this economy and the current job market. People are being offered one year severance package with medical benefits, in industry.

    Has it been a standard practice at PwC to make people sign for one week severance for each year of service in their employment contracts?

  329. @328

    Since employers are under no obligation to provide any severence (unless you have something in a contract), you are pretty much stuck with what they offer (the alternative is of course to refuse to accept it, and pursue legal options, if you are part of a protected class and feel you can prove you are being discriminated against in a lawsuite). I suggest you consult with an attorney before signing anything. Of course, if you are high enough in the food chain (Sr. Manager, Director, partner) you probably have a little bit more negotiating power than a Sr. Associate, or Associate.

    @PWC4Life

    I along with many others have made statements with supporting examples of personal experiences, and been attacked by you. It is your turn to support your statements. You claim to want to defend the big 4 against attacks people arn’t making, and yet when you make a statement and people ask follow up questions you refuse to answer, is it because you do not know the answer? Are afraid of the answers? Or perhaps as another poster stated, you are incapable of articulating your answers?

    you seem like an intelligent chap, so I will patiently await your response with anticipation. They arn’t difficult questions, I am asking you to sell PWC to me (which should be easy for you), but not with general statements, with substance and support.

  330. This was for staff and seniors in audit. Managers and partners got a much better deal that didn’t depend on the number of busy seasons you worked for the firm. I don’t know how it worked for tax and advisory.

    At my firm it was 1 week for each busy season plus a 2 week bonus and whatever PTO you had accrued up until that point for the first round.

    For the second round you pretty much got the same thing but instead of terminating you, they let you stay on the payroll through the end date so you could keep your benefits. You didn’t have to show up to work anymore except to turn in your laptop once you signed the letter agreeing on your final termination date.

  331. Ok guys, let’s all do something smart – when we see any post labelled “pwc4life”, let us immediately (and rightly) assume it is retarded, skip it and continue with the intelligent discussion we were having before said post.
    The level of this discussion began to deteriorate after pwc4life began to comment and people actually began to pay attention…which made it embarrasing to see intelligent people stoop to such an unitelligent level.
    There is a saying – silence is the best answer for a fool.

    I recently got “separated from the firm” (HR lingo makes me want to puke) based on “performance”. I made a note to tell the joker who delivered the news to me that by no means did I perform below my peers, and their partial and unfounded opinions were their prerogative, but I most certainly did not share their sentiments (needless to say the HR manager was stunned so much she began to stammer and had to pause to find a way to get back to her well rehearsed “separation speech” which I had put a kink into, but I am not one to indulge someone who tries to justify a ridiculous decision by adding insult to injury). While some staff had only only client, I worked on no less than four clients in a particular season (one season I had seven). I spent many sleepless nghts bursting my chops, getting sick and taking crap from power crazed seniors who imagined themselves as sovereign just because they hit the mandatory 3 years and were promoted. After working for mediocre and “pseudo-intelligent” people, I am completely disillusioned about the competence of the big 4 and spent my last months there disgusted with PwC and the morons that surrounded me.

    Am I bitter at PwC? Heck no. I have the name on my resume, and coming out of an average college into the financial world were labels mean everything, I now have a shot at firms I initially might never have had a chance to get an interview with straight out of college. For that single opportunity I would like to thank PwC (and all the idiots out there who actually do believe that anything brilliant occurs at that firm, for all it’s worth please keep believing that until I am done riding the wave of the name on my resume). I am also happy about the many friends I made – my “partners in bondage”. In addition, I have a strong feeling I will never encounter another workplace so degenerate that that the working conditions would shame any dictator-governed third world country’s, so I must thank them for ensuring I am eternally grateful to any other employer I may have in the future.

    Oh there is this one thing that bugs me though – the fact that on many nights I could have gone home at midnight instead of 3am and saved myself 3 hours of unpaid unappreciated hours, seeing as the end result is now ultimately the same, lol.

  332. @ 331 – It’s not just PwC, all of the firms seem to be allergic to calling a layoff a layoff. Admitting to layoffs would be tantamount to admitting that the firms aren’t making enough money, but a “performance” based termination takes the blame off the firm. My all-time favorite line of bull comes from Deloitte’s own George Costanza look-alike CEO Jim Quigley:

    “We work in a high performance environment, and for those whom that environment doesn’t fit we’ve encouraged them to leave,” said Quigley of Deloitte. – November 12, 2009 (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/11/12/accounting/index.html).

    Way to add insult to injury there, Jimmy boy.

  333. 31: sounds like you never had it to begin with. I could tell by how you try to dictate my comments should be treated. I might be wrong but you must have been let go because you lack teamwork skills. If you can’t or are not willing to listen to other people then you probably didn’t fit very well with PwC’s teamwork enviornment. Just looking at how you are telling everyone to not read my comments, indicates your overall behavious toward those who disagreed with you at work. Face it man, looks like you never had it to begin with. Be happy and thanksful that PwC/Big4 gave you an opportunity even though you didn’t take full advantage of it. Just keep in mind, wherever you go, teamwork and loyalty are everything.

    Anon: Yes. I will explain. PwC is best of the best because of the following:
    1. strong leadership – no professional firms could match the talent levels of our leadership; just check out our new global/us ceos
    2. brand – just mention “PwC” to anyone in the profession – enough said
    3. recruiting – we recruit the best and brightest out of school – although 31 appears to be an exception
    4. family – we take care of our people – even when we implemented RIF, we allow those affected to apply for other positions
    5. client – just take a look at the list of our clients – enough said

    I could go on and on… I hope you understand why there is so much hate towards PwC/big 4. As I explained earlier, it is the Yankee/Duke/USC/New England factor. they simply love to hate the #1. I tell them don’t hate the player but hate the game. just b/c you lack teamwork skills that does mean hate those who have excellent teamwork skills.

  334. @ people who entertain PwC4Life…

    Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you’re still retarted.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_s4oDBszE_5E/SKJLHGUp5rI/AAAAAAAAA3o/ZiwPV2SD-qk/s400/arguing_on_the_internet.jpg

    @331

    I’m glad that you have no regrets. One of the reasons why I have stayed for such a period of time is the perception of PwC to the outside world for the very reason you have stated. Once you make Manager and have that 5 year history at this place, people look at you and say “agoo gaga” (well.. some do, some will say, get in line), but you guys get the idea. The longer and higher up you are here– the perception is greater. That’s what I have learned. All my friends whom I’ve stayed in touch with once they have left all tell me that there is life outside of PwC and they’re loving it. They actually get home at a descent time and can do many more things they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do in busy season.

  335. @331
    i know where you live! lol.
    @PhilipJFry, it is really frustrating to work so hard (give up sleep, give up showering (for some) get stress headaches and bad skin, gain wait, give up hanging out with your friends, and then be told your “performance” was not up to par and you were being let go. Worse, I know people that have been told they were below expectation because of ONE pff. Like there can never be a personal issue between a reviewer and reviewee. I thought the whole reason why ARC was to be anonymous was so that an objective person can review ALL reviews and present and overall picture of the employee.

    To the people that stay till 3-6am in the morning. I say, don’t give up on the things or people you love. The sacrifice your making is not worth that. At least in other industries where you have to suck it up for the first year or two, you have something to look forward to. There’s a position you have your eye on and allows you to suck it up. Unless you want to be partner here (Good luck), what are you aiming for? Senior? Where you get 6 times more work and responsibility and 1.5 time the pay?? Manager? You get a bigger bump in salary but still not enough to justify all the hours you have and will continue to put in.

    There’s a reason the majority of partners are fat, balding and divorced. I believe it’s called stress. Prolonged stress is not good for your health. At least if you were a doctor, you’d be saving lives. Now your just helping some companies save billions and what do you get to show for it? Be smart! I agree with @331, there’s a benefit to having the name on your resume but I’m one of those people that want to have a good quality of life. I don’t want to wait till I’m 50 to start “enjoying” life.

  336. PWC4life:

    “Anon: Yes. I will explain. PwC is best of the best because of the following:
    1. strong leadership – no professional firms could match the talent levels of our leadership; just check out our new global/us ceos
    2. brand – just mention “PwC” to anyone in the profession – enough said
    3. recruiting – we recruit the best and brightest out of school – although 31 appears to be an exception
    4. family – we take care of our people – even when we implemented RIF, we allow those affected to apply for other positions
    5. client – just take a look at the list of our clients – enough said”

    1. Explain to me what makes the new Global/US CEOs better than the other big 4 CEOs?
    4. If you take care of your people, why is the severance package so week when compared with several PWC clients? Also, it is standard practice in all company’s to allow everyone to apply for open positions within a company. Are they promising that a PWC candidate who RIF will be givin priority for these positions over high qualified external candidates?
    5. Which clients make you the best? wasn’t Satyam was one of your clients, which makes me conserned about your comments for your comment number 3?

  337. i think I will take a break from this forum till ppl stop replying to youknowwho. I don’t come here to read responses to one inflammatory person. Till then – Adieu

  338. Everyone claims to recruit the best and brightest… truth is, people interview and the interviewers assess as best they can in a tiny period of time whether to hire or not. Grades, GPA, interviews are not always the best way to measure best/brightest. I have seen people with poor grades excel at work, I have seen people with good grades excel, I have seen the opposite and every other combination. Truth is, any one firm may not need or want the best/brightest — what they want is the right person for the job. Measuring “fit” is always a problem, and certainly becomes more problematic when deciding on promotions and layoffs. But the recruiting decision is the same — it is an assessment of “fit” based on 3-4 people talking with someone for 30 minutes each. Truth is — the college grads are all clean slates with very little defining qualities to make them anything but a warm body with potential. Experienced hires — that is where it is harder to judge “fit”.

    Most (in my experience) companies hire with a probationary period — the interview gets you in the door — but you have to perform for ~6 months before you are really “in”. I’d like to see that at the B4.

  339. I’m with @pwcnewbie. Since “pwc4life” joined, this thread has turned into a lost discussion. It’s annoying to those (along with myself) who have to waste posts warning folks of bloggers like pwc4life when those posts could have been used for comments more meaningful and pertinent to the original topic (pwc advisory layoffs). Thanks to that troll, this thread has become a circus and until someone revitalizes this thread with real arguments/issues/anecdotes, I too will take a leave of absence from this thread and check out FM’s other topics.

    Later.

  340. PwC4Life is just an associate trying to get a rise out of people. If you read his/her comments (most likely a he) he just recycles the same things and never gets into detail. He hears a few nuggets in the office and uses it on this forum. The way he writes is not indicative of someone who has been in the big 4 more than 2-3 years. He’s probably on the bench waiting for the next project.

    Like others have said, please ignore his posts and focus on more meaningful comments or topics. That is all the time I want to spend on PwC4Life. And no I will not reply to his follow-up comment.

  341. Getting back to the topic of layoffs, it’s been pretty quiet on the audit side. With busy season around the corner I don’t expect there will be any audit layoffs through the winter, although I remember a rash of audit layoffs between March and May of 2009 so I wonder if that will happen again in the Spring of 2010.

  342. It appears my strategy of detracting attention away from PwC has been a huge success. I got many of you all worked up over my comments. It has been fun. I wanted to see if I can get comments up to 500. If you look at the comment trail, you will find that the first 100 or so comments are mainly around PwC and its recently implemented RIF. After comment #100, the vast majority of comments relate directly to my comments. I think you guys are less than intelligent in that you allowed me to completely waste your time. I even had someone of you thinking that I was a second year associate. One person actually took the time writing the encyclopedia’s definition of a “troll”. You guys sure have a lot of time in your hands. Sorry couldn’t do a better job and get to 500 but 340 is good enough for me.

    I will make this one genuine remark before I sign-off. I feel empathy for those recently affected by the RIF. This is not a joking matter. I find comments made on this site to be simply distasteful and certainly not appropriate at a time when our country is trying to take itself out of a severe recession. There are so many individuals negatively affected by this downturn and you should at least have the decency to allow them to keep things private and sort things out on their own.

    And the last but not the least… yes… PwC is #1.

  343. PwC4Life is correct that most of the posts on these threads are relatively distasteful or more specifically… not particularly on target with a well balanced perspective on life and the world. We are in the worst economic crisis since the great depression and probably no one on this blog (although some people I know) lived through that. We do have to respect the firms and their leadership for doing the best they can in the environment at hand. That said — there are still many things the firms can do better. I think the improvement of the firms (including PwC) should be the focus here…

    To be honest — I do not expect another rough year. I do think the economy is improving, the firms have downsized to the point where they will struggle to continue cuts, and business is increasing. It would be nice to cautiously look to a more positive future and participate in constructive ways towards making that future a good one.

  344. @343 – The firms have reduced their fees for audit and tax services to maintain market share, but now that clients are accustomed to discounted prices it will be hard to negotiate higher fees next year. The clients have the audit firms over a barrel and they know it, they won’t pay more for the same product year after year. As far as non-audit work related to advisory and deal transactions, I wouldn’t count on that making a strong rebound in the immediate future either.

    The golden rule is that partners always get paid…period. They expect the same payout year after year and if the topline doesn’t grow they will make up for it through cost controls….and the biggest cost is employee compensation. Maybe they won’t need to cut headcount anymore but those who survive the layoffs will have years of poor raises and increasing workloads to look forward to. Not exactly the recovery that we’ve been hearing about.

  345. The golden rule is more like — the partners lost 30% income this past year… and many lost their jobs. The rule for employees — few took a pay cut (could be none in my firm) and some lost their jobs. On a sliding scale — probably the same % of partners cut as employees so we are even there… on that sliding scale for income — the partners took a significantly larger hit than employees.

  346. @ 344

    I agree with that golden rule… although I will say some Partners have taken pay cuts as well as some Directors….. This has been corroborated by different people in my practice…

  347. @PWC4LIFE

    On the contrary…your comments have been a great foil for discussion. While your goal may have been to post and get people posting for “teh lulz”, it ended up getting alot of vocal commentary regarding opinions of the Firm. You may or may not work for the Firm, I don’t care, but you have helped drum up discussions.
    Yes, the posts were directed at you, but if you actually read them, they have to do more with the Firm then with you…..you were just a conversational foil.

    If you want to be more than that, you’re free to think otherwise.

  348. PwC4Life only made PWC look worse in the eyes of many.

  349. It is a business, and so I understand the need to let people go when demand declines. Francine’s notion of the profession as a calling is charming, and I actually hope it is true for my audit colleagues. I do something different so I’m afraid it is more akin to a job to me – one I love, but absent the Holy Orders.
    Most partners (and the name is a misnomer – a Big 4 partnership is a corporation with a CEO, some SVPs and thousands of VPs and junior VPs) are no better or worse than the owner of the corner garage or any small business – they want to make maximize their income. The smart ones – most of them in my experience- realize this doesn’t mean riding their staff like a horse, cutting corners on quality, or laying off good people if demand declines mid-week. They are in it for the long haul by this point and try to manage for it. Most took a significant pay cut last year and no doubt this year too.

    That said, I regret “layoffs” (another misnomer – if we lay you off, you ain’t getting a recall notice) being characterized as performance based in the current environment. I think there would have been some of that , say a year ago, as a few warm bodies were hired during the SOX days that would not normally make the cut. But they are long gone – the people being cut now seem to be decent, hard-working individuals we would have been happy to hire – were happy to hire – just two or three years ago. Those cuts are performance based only in the loosest (and meanest) sense – they aren’t perhaps quite as good – or as lucky – as the ones not cut. So we should call a spade a spade – you are being let go because demand has declined in our industry and we could not or did not predict that demand properly. Unfortunately the same result, but I think more honest and better for everyone, except perhaps those charged with predicting demand.

  350. @349 – totally agree with your last point. As someone who was chopped over the last year at DT, I have no problem that the firm has cut people. Sure I was pissed when it was me, but I am far happier now and wouldn’t change a thing.

    The thing that has lost the firm all respect from me is the doublespeak and screwed up messaging around this. From the original PR statement to quigleys recent proclamation on CNN that the cuts were all performance based and all is rosy. Come on do you think we were born yesterday? I (and many others) receive the DT alum emails, get event invites etc to keep us in the big happy family, but sorry Jim, it ain’t happening. Next time discussions come up at my new role about which big 4 to use, guess who won’t be getting my vote. If you can’t be straight to your staff how can your clients expect better?

  351. Just a sidenote for all those incensed by pwc4life. I believe NYmetro advisory partners are no longer just monitoring this blog but have begun posting under the guise of younger staff. Cmon people if you really worked in Metro advisory you’d know EXACTLY who is posting under this name. Times are tough but we love sports enough to not only use them as analogies under a pseudoname on blogs but also to include sports events as one of those mandatory but not mandatory ass-kissing group events. Wonder why the army notre dame game is one of these annual events? It’s not cut and paste marketing materials in his posts. Folks you’ve got yourself one of the said executioners on this blog.

  352. @349 is on target with all points. Also, not everyone let go is a performance issue, but some are. And not all the terminateions claimed to be performance based are — but some are. One cannot make the broad sweeping statements some have made here, nor the broad sweeping statements that B4 leadership makes. the truth is in the middle.

    @350 — interesting that you will steer work away from D&T. And while I completely understand it, there will others let go from E&Y steering business away from E&Y, and others steering it away from PwC and KPMG too. Depending on the success of all these former B4 employees — seems to me it just reshuffles the client base… and in the end has little impact on the entire industry. It sould be nice to find a way to have a more meaningful impact, to introduce real change in meaningful and important ways (we will all disagree on what those changes should be of course). So far I don’t see what will cause this change.

    But change is coming in a different manner — B4 firms are restructuring, and the restructure is designed to make some sweeping changes which may or may not be the right ones. It will be interesting to see what the next 2-3 years bring.

  353. @52 – Your last comment about restructuring is very interesting. I’ve heard rumors about something similar coming down the pipe in the near future. Care to elaborate?

  354. I have heard that some of the tax departments are getting really intense about “utilization.” Really want to make sure people are utilized fully…I hope it doesn’t mean what they say it means, but I am shaking in my boots.

  355. Francine has been quoted in deloittes competitive intelligence monthly regarding this article, though they do not use her name personally, instead they state per blog positing…….

  356. @53 – I don’t completely understand the restructure and its impacts yet. The fundamentals of the KPMG advisory restructure seem to be that the individual practice and regional leadership is being transitioned to a single advisory leadership. Partners who were responsible for a practice area or region no longer have these responsibilities. In addition the employees in advisory are now considered one large pool to be used across engagements in any practice area. The party line is that this is intended to create real teaming and knock down walls in the old structure (it could do that). The question is whether this is a way to have partners compete across a larger population and thus expose those that should not be retained. The second question then becomes what is the impact on employees as the partner pool is reduced. I has been suggested to aligned oneself with successful partners in order to survivors – regardless of the practice areas and regions in which they are/were alligned. This is nothing new just that the cross over to other partners is easier now. It appears that the new structure may make more people vulnerable because the structure that was protecting some has been removed. This will clearly create opportunities for some and make others vulnerable (that is true with any restructure). Long term, it will be interesting if they return to the practice/regional structure — or some version of it. Short term it seems that some of the ability to build and manage a specific office/practice, region/practice or overall practice is more of a challenge because the reporting structure no longer works in this manner.

  357. @352 – I think they’ll be client re-shuffling, but the mix will include non-Big4 firms, a further downward pressure on fees, or a complete disappearance of the service. Former Big4 workers have been through enough hour-eating and other non-sense to know where the resource inefficiencies lie. Many client decision-makers are cherry-picking what they need, and it’s not difficult to force an incumbent firm into a corner using a combination of methods, including lower fees, less work and hours, more reliance on others’ work or in-house staff, or showing the partner the door.

  358. @357-the mix already includes non-B4. It could happen that the non-B4 get an increasing share of the pie… that seems very possible. Would be interesting if the B4 starts increasing again — we went from what was it B8 to B4… will we increase again as the non-B4 get more market share?

  359. RE 358 – A quick search of the Edgar database will show you that many companies only recognize the Big Four as competent accounting firms with the technical expertise and breadth of resoruces to deal with complex accounting issues. I don’t want to turn this into another Big Four vs everyone else debate – just pointing out – rightly or wrongly – the non-Big 4 movement is probably relegated to the smallest, and simplest, SEC filers. You may see some boutique advisory firms start to crawl in on the “Technical Accounting and Consulting/Implementation Space” that’s been split among the Big Four – but it’s harder when you don’t have a seat at “FASB” roundtables or other Big 4 only type meetings to be privy to the most recent implementation/accounting issues. Anyone can consult on FAS 133 – or a standard that’s been out for years – but if you were dealing with the latest FAS 167 consolidation issues and the successful application thereof, only the Big Four would be privy to that specific knowledge base (e.g. deferreal for investment companies) before it became public.

    For example, Oilsands Quests 10Q from last month states “We plan to remediate the material weakness described above by consulting with an independent big four accounting firm on complex accounting issues and obtain written analysis of the accounting options available to us.” Many hedge fund and other deal documents specifically reference that the audits are required to be performed by a Big Four Firm. It’s a mitigating factor for Boards of Directors (Audit Committees) to assuage their concerns about quality/risk.

  360. I had the pleasure of working for PwC for 6 years and found out through your blog what my future was. I have to say that I was so blind these last 6 years. As a minority, did I really think I was ever going to get to the top of triangle? Most definately not. PwC good luck to you in the future and if I ever have a say in working with your firm in the future you can get bet I will make sure to turn you away.

  361. Many ex-PWC seniors and managers from Asset Management practice are setting their own shops these days….Piedmont Fund Services in NYC or Enetne in DC are prime examples there is a life after Big4.

  362. The disposable worker……………………..Diapers to Deloitte!!!!

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_03/b4163032935448.htm

  363. The Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien ordeal reminds me of the November 2009 RIF at PwC. High level guys making illogical decisions. When will these fat cats realize that a pulse survey is not a replacement for rolling up your sleeves and talking to your staff.

  364. [...] “layoffs” and breakdown in culture and loyalty that’s resulted from the overwhelming focus on growth [...]

  365. Glad to see that Advisory is looking to add around 300 new folks. Gotta love the strategy, nothing like wasting goodwill, talented folks and then spending $10-20K per new hire right after you finished doing a RIF of 260 for those same positions.

  366. That’s exactly the reason why so many people are either looking to leave…..whoever is steering this boat has no clue. So why stay on board this ship.

  367. Until they get non lifetime auditors to run their “consulting practice” (Advisory) then it will continue to be a poorly executing adrift entity. It just makes no sense the way PwC is structured re; Advisory. It will never ever be able to compete with such incompetence.

  368. @Not Moritz

    There are some non-lifelong auditors who can run that “consulting”practice. They work for IBM. Ha.

  369. PwC needs to sell or dissolve their Advisory practice and stick to audit & tax. It would not surprise me if that is the path they follow once the BP acquistion doesn’t pan out.

  370. @252- It looks like GT may be more competent than PWC.in this case.
    PWC – will probably have to deal with a whole slew of new lawsuits related to years of restatements.
    GT- fired for holding to their guns and not giving in to the client.

    http://goingconcern.com/2010/02/winners-and-losers-in-the-overstock-restatement/#more-2759

  371. PwC is finishing off its purge of its IFS personnel. However, CFO, Mike Burwell, just stated that there will be another round of IFS layoffs announced at the end of February. I assume this will be to the TAs. He also announced that the Firm is looking to reduce staff by 30% through reductions in hiring and attrition. They are looking to standardized many tax and audit processes in the Tampa center. Once they have the quality to the degree they want it they will then outsource those functions to Argentina, India, China or Singapore. They are hiring tax professionals for the Tampa center starting at at $25K – $30K. The audit professionals are slightly higher topping out at about $35K. These jobs are going away and never coming back. The bloodletting is only going to continue until the economy has recovered and PwC will be about 9 months behind.

    For all those reading this and blogging at work, I was contacted by the lovely people at Ethics and Compliance and warned/threatened not to spend time on this site or be very careful as to anything I contribute. They are watching…

  372. StbXPwCer @ 371 –

    So the take-away here is that Tampa is the place to be? If you’re in Tax or Audit (or IA, I assume), and you’re worried about utilization, what you should do is jump on the internal project to “standardize” the processes in preparation for outsourcing. That’s what I hear you saying.

    Do the relocation. Chances are, Tampa’s got a lower cost of living than wherever you are at the moment. Plus, no travel!

    Also, you can have a job for life working on standardizing the processes … because you can always argue that the processes are not at “the quality to the degree they want”. Until the processes are at a high enough quality level, outsourcing would represent an unacceptable risk to the firm.

    Thanks for the tip. I hope PwC staff consider your words and jump on that internal project code with both feet.

    – Tenacious T.

  373. Rumor has it that PwC Advisory in NYM let too many people go in November as the market began to recover, now there is not enough people to do the work (especially in FS). And I think they did not anticipate the number of people that decided to get out before the next round of layoffs. I think I hear bonus referrals around the corner to stimulate hiring – LOL.

  374. It’s no secret that the creation of the TA role in advisory was a failure. One year later, leadership has decided to attempt to fix their mistake by yet another new creation for TA’s – A TA “pool”. All TA’s will be grouped and sat together in a designated area (middle of the floor) on floors 6-8. Managers and Directors will request help with projects via a database (to be created) and walk-ins will be accepted. Sounds very 70ish. I’m seeing and hearing the frustration of many TA’s…..if this pool proves to be another failure….you know what and who is next to receive pink slips.

  375. @TheTAPool

    Actually sounds very un-professional. Are TAs earning overtime?
    fm

  376. I believe TA’s are hourly employees and get paid overtime, but it’s frowned upon. The team leaders will give any TA working OT a lot of cr@p, as they expect them to get all the work done between 9-5. When I was there, a lot of TA’s would just eat the time to avoid the harassment. I think I read in one of the posts that McKinsey came up with the TA idea, similar to the “market team concept” and we all know how well that worked out. I wonder if they brought Mckinsey back in and paid them another big consulting fee to retool things.

  377. More terminations at PwC..150 IFS staff will receive pink slips at the end of the month. The new model for the TA position will be rolled out later in the month It will operate like a “service center” the TAs will sit together in a designated area on 3 floors, each floor will be assigned a coordinater who will monitor the database that will be used to request work from the TA service center. You’re right Francine, it does sound “unprofessional”. The TA’s have seen their share of changes and challenges and it is evident by the low morale amongst them. If this fails….then what?

  378. I was with the firm for 12 years and it troubles me that the firm would gamble its future in Advisry by buying assets of a company on the brink of bankruptcy and contracts with no real value left and leave “veteran” employees in the wind. lets face it these BP folks have been around the chopping block before. I know a guy and you know one tooo, who proudly says he’s work for all the Big 4 and hasn’t spent more than 2 years at each. They are like energizer bunnies.

  379. At some point Advisiory will have to demonstrate they can make money for the firm. Maybe this was their last ditch effort to do so, by buying some of BP’s contracts…. If it doesn’t happen then it’s time to carve-out Advisory and sell and go back to the white board, or better yet call in McKinsey for another consultation.

  380. FtM @ 379,

    Please explain to me how PwC’s Advisory practice doesn’t make any money for the firm, when its standard hourly billing rates are three times what Assurance charges and it has zero litigation exposure and practically no practice protection costs? Walk me through that logic again?

    I can do realization vs. utilization math too. So don’t try that one either.

    – Tenacious T.

  381. @380

    I won’t pretend to know the specifics and I have to qualify that the comment is toward the US only. From what I gather the internal costs are too high as they hired to grow market share in the US. Advisory leadership was aggressive in hiring between 2003-2007 and hired in anticipation of the workload, many of these hires were catalyst hires who were industry experts and highly compensated. They had very agressive growth targets (ask any Advisory professional who worked during that period and attended Advisory University). Oh, and don’t forget the cost of Advisory University. In short they always had more bodies than work from an overall Advisory perspective, but there were some niche practices that did very well.

    I too was also under the impression that Advisory was profitable until I heard it from a senior member of the firm. So take it for what it’s worth.

  382. FtM–

    If PwC Advisory is not profitable, it can only be from a couple of reasons. One, when you RIF staff who are 100% utilized, that’s not smart. Two, when you RIF “industry experts” who have multi-million dollar engagements in their pipelines, that’s not smart. PwC Advisory did both those actions and more over the past 3 years. Fact.

    There are some other partnership games that could have been played. Now, I’m not saying that PwC did this, but what if one spread practice protection costs equally (i.e., evenly by partner head) instead of where the risks are? What if one spread litigation costs and loss reserves equally rather than where the litigation exposure is? That would have the effect of making otherwise profitable LoBs look bad while otherwise margin-weak LoBs look good.

    Again, I’m not saying PwC did that. But if it could be done, would you say it would be from a top-down mandate from the Senior Leadership Team, or from a democratic partner-wide vote? Certainly it would be done in the name of equity and fairness, right? Shouldn’t every partner share equally in the revenues and equally in the losses? I’m sure that is the principle that guides so many of leadership’s decisions….

    Or, you know, maybe you’re right. Maybe PwC Advisory sold the firm on aggressive growth, which could only be achieved by aggressive hiring. You can’t sell hours you don’t have, right? PwC Advisory created a strategy and sold it, then couldn’t deliver the goods. My opinion of PwC’s leadership acumen is a matter of public record on this site. By no means would I be shocked if PwC Advisory Leadership “screwed the pooch” as they say.

    So PwC Advisory missed their revenue and margin targets, and then they bought half of Bearing Point because … well, I’ve already posted my theory on that decision. It’s one of my many, many (too many) posts on this site. But “double down” on a weak hand is only the wrong strategy if you’re in it for the long-haul. If you only need a year or two more before you’re age 60, then it might in fact be the winning strategy … for you.

    I’ve got friends all over the Big 4 (as well as GT and several regional firms) and none of them are particularly thrilled about their engagements, their careers, or the decisions of their leadership. It’s not like PwC stands out from the others on that score. But if you can’t make money billing 1st years out at $150 – $200 per hour, then I’m thinking you’re in the wrong business.

    – Tenacious T.

  383. Need some help for a story I’m working on…

    Looking for a step in a methodology or policy/procedure for auditing hedge funds that says how often auditors should be going to the investment advisor/broker/custodian’s premises and kicking the tires. When/how often should they be performing detailed testing versus just inquiry? This doc tells others how PwC interprets AICPA guidance, but looking for internal policy and procedure.

    http://www.pwc.com/en_US/us/alternative-investment/assets/0407_au322.pdf

    Thanks!

  384. Next week should be an interesting week as PwC Advisory releases annual review results.

  385. [...] any event, PwC admits, in an unprecedented press release, that there is no severance offered because they are giving professionals until the end of the year [...]

  386. [...] offers to BearingPoint professionals who were on a visa of any sort.  Then, last November, they cut 300+ of their own consulting professionals to make room for the BearingPoint gurus of their new SAP/Oracle systems integration [...]

  387. Any news on a Veteran’s Day in pwc Advisory for 2010?

  388. @Follw_The_Money
    Whoa. I forgot that day is coming up. They would not be so stupid to… Nah.

  389. @Francine

    I hope you are right that they would not be so stupid. Often pwc advisory makes decisions that don’t make logical sense.

  390. Ipad’s!!! All is well!

  391. A little more than a year since the last post…. any new thoughts or opinions on the state of PwC Advisory?

  392. Major hiring spree – to the point that new hires in smaller markets are being shipped to bigger markets….. as the smaller markets don’t have enough work for them. Call it growing pains………or being presumptuous. I believe history always repeats itself……we’ve seen this before….then in 2008/2009 – well….read the older posts. I’m curouis if there has been any other news regarding more outsouring. IT was hit awhile ago – wondering if some other areas are soon to take large hits as well soon – remember – the last group was part of a “strategic” plan. And then again – June will soon be here – that’s always exciting!!!!!!!!

  393. yea, I know there is a bit of a hiring frenzy. I have some friends trying to draw me in, and I’m thinking about it, which is why I was soliciting thoughts on the current state. I’m thinking management consulting, specifically. I have experience in public – both at PwC and Grant Thornton. I’ve been in corporate IT Strategy for about 5 yrs, and I’m getting bored. Economy is picking back up, and seems like a good time to jump. As much political BS as there is in public accounting / consulting, there definitely is not a lack of young, smart, driven people and I miss that. But I also don’t want to get my head cut off 6 months after landing.

  394. Like everything, you need to weigh the pro’s and con’s. Since you were with PWC before, it should make your decision easier since you know what you are walking into. Personally, iI would say if you were to proceed, do so with caution. The numbers being hired are exteremely high….that always concerns me. Francine – your thoughts????? You always seem to have good insight.

  395. In SIngapore PwC, the treated the IFS staff like shit!!!! Especially toward the GTS low rank staff !!! Fuck them !!! Those stupid assholes that worked in the office environment dont even known how to hook up a projector to a laptop ! What a stupid fool of those highly educated staffs !!!!

  396. It might be interesting and definitely serve as an outlet for EA’s and TA’s (especially) to revisit the birth of the TA role then the birth of the Business Support Team (BST) and NOW the possible demise of the BST. No more lies, misleading utilization numbers, cover ups and threats to TA’s i.e., if goals aren’t met = termination. Who is the genius who figured 90% of TA’s would have to be terminated because vast majority are not reaching utilization goals? The truth hurts! BST is a failure and it wasn’t brought down by TA’s.

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