To provide deeper analytic insights for the M&A market, PwC has announced it will in the coming two years add more than 1,000 data science specialists to its Deals business. As clients come to seek deeper insights into deal metrics, while information can be leveraged in a host of new ways, the need to provide clients with a mix of strategy and quantitative value added is changing the financial advisory market.
Last year M&A activity broached $4.9 trillion, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, while another report from KPMG highlights that this year will be another bumper year for M&A. However, finding good deals, and good fits, is becoming more and more important in an increasingly competitive and expensive market. One of the means for rapidly gaining ground in the world of M&A is data science – the art of capturing and analysing huge swathes of data, at the end of the line providing both acquiring and selling companies with a range of new means to bolster valuation assessments and deal processes, from due diligences to structuring tax supply chains and post-merger integration roadmaps.
In a bid to keep up with the pace of transformation, PwC has unveiled that it will increase the headcount of its Deals service line by more than a thousand data scientists over the coming two years. As it stands the practice employs around 500 FTEs in data heavy occupations – the additional staff will thereby triple its capacity. “Our business is very vulnerable unless we modernise and use data,” explains John Dwyer, PwC’s Global Head of Deals. “We have to more progressive and change our workforce from traditional accountants to hire more data scientists, mathematicians and those who are comfortable with computer algorithms.”
The new staff will be drawn primarily from the data-heavy technology sector, including roles such as data engineers, statisticians and machine learning experts. Talent from healthcare and academia will also be targeted, among others.
The majority of new recruits will work in the firm’s Transactions business within the Deals unit, where their skills related to transactions and due diligence will help the firm identify quality targets for clients seeking to initiate mergers and acquisitions. The scientists and engineers will be tasked with analysis troves of company data to identify how well the company would fit expectations based on a range of metrics.
According to PwC’s Henri Leveque, a Senior Partner in the US – and a member of the global Deals leadership team – clients are more and more demanding an analytic approach to due diligence reporting. Strategy and quantitative insight now go hand in hand, across the acquisition through integration value chain. “Deep insights that can be driven through the sophisticated analysis of high-volume data are playing an increasingly vital part of deal execution. Buyers now expect to understand risks and opportunities in far greater detail before making significant investment decisions.” Leveque however adds that despite the rapid rise of digitalisation and automation, relationships, experience and human judgment will remain a key aspect of professional services.
Besides experienced hires, PwC will also seek both graduates as well as school leavers for training. School leavers with strong analytics skills, and a tech-savvy can-do attitude are sometimes better value for money, according to Dwyer. To support its training scheme, PwC completed a major investment in a tech-hub in Belfast to train the youngsters, adding more than 800 jobs in Belfast, while more recently the firm announced plans to work together with Google Labs.