PwC grows UK revenues with Northern Ireland expanding fastest

26 September 2018

The UK wing of Big Four firm PwC has pushed full-year revenues up to a £3.76 billion, building further on a record breaking 2017. Northern Ireland represents PwC’s fastest growing UK region, with the professional services firm’s Belfast office doubling its headcount during the last term.

In the year leading up to 30th June 2018, PwC’s UK revenues climbed 5% on its previous record of £3.6 billion, posted last year. PwC UK bagged a profit of £935 million this time, rising from £822 million. Across the firm's divisions, assurance revenues were buoyed by 3%, while consulting climbed by 1% and deals rose by 10% and PwC's tax practice experienced growth of 7%. PwC Partners in the UK can expect a bumper year, with the profit divisible between them before tax standing at £712,000.

Of the firm’s presences across Britain, Northern Ireland was the firm's fastest growing UK region. The Big Four firm’s Belfast office is now recognised as a global centre for technology and digital advisory services, with the city’s PwC Operate division – created to support growing demand from multinational organisations dealing with political, economic and regulatory change – bringing in annual revenues of over £40 million, largely from export markets. Clients in the division are primarily sourced from the financial services sector, alongside some working in oil and gas, utilities, retail, pharmaceuticals and the public sector.

PwC grows UK revenues with Northern Ireland expanding fastest

Commenting on the results, Ian McConnell, the PwC Northern Ireland Partner responsible for Operate, said the firm's investment in the Belfast operation was "a tribute to the availability of skilled graduates and an abundance of technology skills."

Over the course of last year, PwC Operate nearly doubled its workforce from 540 to 1,000, boosted by the launch of a flexible working network for people seeking to work for just a limited number of days a year. PwC is now understood to be planning to move its total 1,900 Belfast staff to a new combined facility in Merchant Square. The Merchant Square development at Wellington Place will be taken up after PwC leaves its existing Waterfront Plaza site, though a full agreement is reportedly yet to be signed.

At the same time, PwC is making further plans for the future in Belfast, having launched fully-funded tech and data degree apprenticeships in Queen's University Belfast and another four universities in the UK. This will give over 100 students a traditional university experience while receiving paid on-the-job training, and theoretically give PwC a key pipeline of new talent, as it competes with an increasingly crowded consulting sector for top level human resources.

PwC UK Chairman Kevin Ellis remarked, "Despite uncertainty over Brexit, all four of our business divisions grew this year, with high demand for technology-related services, including cyber, data analytics and GDPR. And 29% of the firm's revenues came from inbound - organisations headquartered outside the UK - highlighting the importance of the UK as a global business hub. Momentum in our business is good, driven by a strong deals market and demand for technology-driven business expertise, as we see organisations turn to us to help them transform their business models, many in response to digital disruption."

Related: Deloitte UK partners enjoy biggest payout in decade: £832,000 average.


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PA Consulting results reveal record 14% revenue growth

17 April 2019

Global professional services firm PA Consulting has reported another year of strong growth, outpacing the global consulting market significantly over the duration of 2018. PA’s revenue boomed by 14%, passing £455.8 million over the course of the year.

Founded in 1943, by Englishmen Ernest Butten, Tom Kirkham and David Seymour, the firm once known as Personnel Administration has since gone on to become one of the largest consulting firms in the world. PA Consulting Group, as it is now known, has over 2,600 professionals and a global presence spanning 18 countries. While turnover took a decade to recover from a rocky spell after the global financial crisis, PA Consulting is now firmly on the upward incline.

PA has booked strong growth in recent years, following its securing of private equity investment from the Carlyle Group in 2015. While the first full year of results following that move were slightly muted, due in part to the altering of how PA measured its results, the decision has clearly paid dividends since. Revenues jumped by 6% in 2017, hitting an all-time high of £400 million in the process.

Annual consulting revenues of PA Consulting versus UK market

Now, in the latest chapter of the firm’s rapid turnaround, the innovation and transformation consultancy has revealed things only got better in 2018. A set of record results released in April have confirmed that fee income rocketed up by 14% over the course of the prior 12 months, hitting £455.8 million. Considering the UK’s consulting market saw growth slow for the second year running (just 5.6%), PA’s performance is even more pronounced, especially in its first year of full results since influential Chair Marcus Agius stood down. 

The firm is also outpacing the global consulting market. Analytics firm Statista estimates that the consulting market expanded by 4.08% in 2018. As a result of such bullish demand, PA Consulting has also bolstered its staffing, boosting its consulting team’s headcount by 10% in the space of 12 months. 

PA’s team was further strengthened with its continued acquisition campaign, which brought three new firms into the fold during 2018. Boston-based innovation company Essential Design, specialist digital service design firm We Are Friday and London-based digital insight and strategy consultancy Sparkler all became part of PA over the course of the year. PA has also announced plans to recruit 400 professionals for its new digital centre in Belfast. 

‘Not traditional’

In terms of client work, in the UK PA supported Skipping Rocks Lab to create an edible alternative to single use plastic drink packaging, and worked on a notable restructuring project at disability charity Scope. Further afield, PA helped Norwegian authorities deliver their citizen-facing digital services, while in the US and India, PA partnered with Virgin Hyperloop One to build the first new mode of transport in a century, one that hopes to revolutionise travel. It even worked with United Nations to identify the technologies most likely to contribute to the achievement of the organization's Sustainable Development Goals.

Commenting on the year’s performance, Alan Middleton, PA Consulting CEO, said, “We’re not a traditional consulting firm and we think this is key to our ongoing success and why 98% of our clients recommend us… Our people are strategists, technologists, digital experts, consultants, designers, scientists and engineers – all of whom bring real-world experience, and apply it at pace. We offer the innovation, design, digital and transformation skills that our clients need to change, fast. There’s a sense of optimism behind our purpose. And it’s a feeling that inspires our people as well as our clients.”

The existing staff of PA also enjoyed a bumper year, as it was revealed that a refinancing manoeuver at the firm was expected to land over 1,000 employee shareholders a significant pay-out. The firm’s debt, which includes vendor loan notes put in place when Carlyle purchased the firm, is set to be refinanced in a deal worth £350 million.