PwC UK to add 1,000 technology specialists to Risk Assurance unit

19 September 2016

Digital technologies come with costs, as cyber security threats mount and global cyber-crime damage hits $400 billion per year. Protecting valuables in cyberspace can become considerably more complex, and costly, compared to building an almost impenetrable vault. To support companies deal with the new reality, PwC UK has launched a recruitment drive for 1,000 new staff in the technology segment of its Risk Assurance practice by 2020, as well as the development of a new graduate programme to train the security executives for the future.

Technology has been heralded as the great cost saver for businesses, providing everything from new ways of engaging with customers to automation of a host of processes. In a matter of decades, digital technology has opened up whole new domains in which new processes and business models can form, and, in some cases, the results have transformed businesses and disrupt industries.

The new domain, however, comes with challenges. Just like in the terrestrial world, where locks, keys and walls are needed to protect valuables, so too in the digital domain, security remains an issue. The digital domain, while having operated in the ‘wild west’ in some respect (as few rules are yet in place, and walls are often just facades), the issues around security of information, from medical dossiers to government and business secrets are becoming demanding, also because new regulations to mitigate dangers to consumers and organisations are coming online.

While challenges are to be expected, the scale of the challenges are only now beginning to dawn on many businesses. As it stands, around 500,000 attacks occur per day with a total cost of more than $400 billion – whereby cyber space remains perilously insecure and cyber security remains a cost post for businesses.

Given the intangibility, the further development of technology, as well as the pace of development of cybercrime, companies are facing a whole new breed of costs and risks: The development of the IoT, adds a host of ways through which to hack into networks across the value chain; new compliance rules regarding personal information, add additional monitoring and implementation costs; new insurance costs to cover events; and meeting the cost of damages post event. The additional risks and costs, mean that businesses are often needing to turn to outside support to protect their assets and reputation.

PwC to add 1,000 technology specialists to its UK Risk Assurance by 2020

PwC's Risk Assurance practice is betting on increased demand for its services from clients seeking to mitigate, monitor and crisis manage a range of risks that come with the new digital age, for which it is hiring an additional 1,000 staff over the coming four years to 2020. Hemione Hudson, PwC’s head of Assurance, says, “Business models that have served clients well for decades are being disrupted or destroyed due to the speed of digital disruption, the increase of regulatory scrutiny on technology risks, and the escalation of cyber threat, requiring us to respond and build a strong team of specialists.” The new recruits are destined to work across the firm’s office footprint in the UK, serving both London and regional clients.

In addition, PwC's IT Risk Assurance practice has created a new graduate recruitment programme that, over a period of three years, aims to develop participants with a skillset to become the Chief Information Security Officers, Chief Data Officers and Chief Information Officers of the future. The programme, aimed at cyber security, data and technology graduates, will provide them with graduate track work experience as well as new qualifications required in their respective field.

Marc Bena, Risk Assurance Partner at PwC, comments, “There is a real shortage of technology professionals in the UK. Our vision is to recruit and grow the technology leaders of the future in the same way that we have helped grow generations of finance leaders. Our clients and their customers want to know that their technology is innovative and pushing boundaries whilst being safe and delivering what is expected. We have a duty to continue to build a team of technology experts able to help our clients do business with confidence.”

Earlier this year PwC promoted 61 new equity partners (the most ever in one sitting), of which 28% are women.