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PwC Pledges $2.4B for Compensation, Extends Parental Leave (2)

May 6, 2022, 10:00 AMUpdated: May 6, 2022, 7:49 PM

PwC LLP said Friday that it will boost wages, provide more assignment flexibility and offer more career training for its U.S. workforce, investing $2.4 billion in a bid to keep staff at work and continue to compete amid a shortage in accountants and ongoing turnover challenges.

PwC professionals will be able to take 12 weeks of paid parental leave, choose from a more streamlined menu of other benefits, and enjoy two week-long firmwide shutdowns in July and December, among other perks the Big Four accounting firm announced.

It’s the latest volley in the accounting industry’s “war for talent”—recruiting struggles exacerbated by the pandemic that have plagued not only big CPA firms but corporate accounting teams and regulators too.

”Worklife has changed since the pandemic,” said Kathryn Kaminsky, PwC’s vice chair for trust solutions. “These steps are really there to adapt to that and to recognize that we need to continue to invest in our people in new ways.”

PwC intends to give its 55,000 U.S. employees more choices and variety in the types of roles and assignments available to them, helping them better achieve their own career goals with the three-year investment, Kaminsky said. “It really should help make happier people and serve our clients better. Because they’ll have a choice and not always working on the same repetitive thing, and having, with the choice, the ability to develop,” she said.

The changes—including more career development for staff at all levels—are meant to respond to feedback from staff, who not only demand more flexibility around assignments and when they work, but also seek more leadership coaching, Kaminsky said.

PwC can’t compete on compensation and benefits alone, Yolanda Seals-Coffield, the firm’s deputy people leader, said in a statement.

Still, wage hikes and bonuses are part of the mix. Yet-to-be determined salary increases take effect starting July 1 and follow a 5% pay raise the firm handed out mid-cycle. PwC also pledged to at least twice a year compare its wages with competitors and adjust salaries if needed.

Competitors Ernst & Young LLP and Deloitte LLP have funneled $2 billion and $1 billion respectively into compensation while KPMG LLP offered merit increases starting last fall followed by a mid-cycle pay bump. KPMG also expanded its paid parental leave to 12 weeks in October while EY and Deloitte have offered their employees 16 weeks for several years.

Last fall, PwC announced that its professionals could choose a work-anywhere plan, including the option to work fully remote.

The Big Four firms aren’t alone. Many smaller firms have boosted salaries and compensation and are poised to do so again this year, said Mark Masson, lead partner for Axiom Consulting Partners’ professional services practice.

“Talent is still difficult. The shortages are still there,” Masson said.

Senior leaders at many firms are also considering how to reimagine the nature of the work and the workplace they offer to employees—including the types of technology and assignments they offer and which clients they serve. “They want to work at some place that’s growing,” Masson said of today’s accounting professionals, especially recent graduates. “They want to work at a place that’s at the leading edge.”

And after two difficult years, people also want to work with people they like and respect and for companies whose values match theirs. Employers can offer that kind of workplace even if they can’t match still soaring salaries, thanks to high demand and scant applicants, said Frances Moreno, co-founder and managing partner of staffing firm Vaco’s Los Angeles office.

“I’m thinking in the next 18 months the wild bucking bronco circus of a market that employment is seeing today might start to settle down just a little bit, just enough for people to catch their breath and not make as many movements,” Moreno said.

(Updates with additional reporting beginning in paragraph 14. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Amanda Iacone in Washington at aiacone@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeff Harrington at jharrington@bloombergindustry.com; Alex Clearfield at aclearfield@bloombergindustry.com