For the 12 months ending 30 June 2020, PwC firms around the world had gross revenues of US$43 billion – up 3% in local currency and 1.4% in US dollars.
During the first nine months of FY20 to the end of March, revenues grew by nearly 7% over the same period last year with increases across all lines of business and in every major market. From April to June, revenues were significantly impacted by the lockdown and subsequent slowing economies as countries around the world fought the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the same three months in 2019, revenues were down from April to June 2020 by 6%.
“First and foremost the COVID-19 pandemic has been a human tragedy that has deeply affected the lives of many people around the world including members of our PwC family, their relatives and friends and our heartfelt condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones,” said Bob Moritz, Chairman of the PwC Network.
“Since the pandemic struck, our priorities have been the safety and wellbeing of our people, protecting and preserving jobs, and helping our clients and the communities in which we live and work deal with the impact of COVID-19. I am proud of what we have done over the last year and the way our people have adapted quickly to a huge amount of change while at the same time continuing to connect, collaborate and innovate for the benefit of our stakeholders across the world.”
“While the last few months have been very challenging for everyone, we have re-focused our business to help our clients manage the immediate impacts of the pandemic and reinvent their businesses for future success. It has never been more important to provide our stakeholders with high quality services. We have also continued our significant investments in technology and upskilling our people to help build a sustainable PwC for the future. Our investment in technology was borne out at the height of the lockdown when 95% of our 284,000 strong workforce were operating out of the office with no interruption to the service we were able to provide”, added Bob Moritz.
Revenues across the world
In the Americas, revenues rose by 3% with a particularly good performance from businesses in the United States and Canada. Revenues in Western Europe were up by 2%, while in Central and Eastern Europe, revenues grew by 4%.
Revenues from the Middle East and Africa rose by 10% with a strong result from the Middle East where revenues were up 14%. Across Asia, revenues grew by 5% while in Australasia and the Pacific, revenues were down 1% reflecting difficult trading conditions throughout FY20.
Regional growth numbers for the full year FY20 mask the impact of COVID-19, with all regions performing as anticipated up to the end of March 2020 and then feeling the full impact of the economic restrictions caused by lockdowns in the months of April, May and June. For the last three months of FY20, in most markets around the world we experienced declines in revenues compared with the same period in FY19 with falls in revenues of up to 30% in certain countries.
Revenues by line of business
Around the world, our businesses are focused on providing high quality services that help our clients respond to an ever more complex and challenging environment and address current and future opportunities. While all our lines of business continued to grow in FY20, each was impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19 and we expect market conditions to be challenging for all our operations as we go into our new financial year.
Assurance: Assurance remains PwC’s largest operation across the world and our brand defining business, serving key stakeholders and helping to build trust in the world’s capital markets. In FY20, revenues from our assurance operations grew by 3% to US$17.6 billion, driven by continued strong demand for our core audit. As management and other stakeholders seek insight into operations, risks and performance, and to increase confidence and resilience in business, we have seen continued strong growth in our broader assurance services, such as internal audit and governance, risk and controls. Demand for our digital risk solutions has also remained strong as companies look for support as they accelerate their transition to the Cloud. With almost 119,000 professionals, PwC is the world’s largest provider of assurance services.
Advisory: PwC Advisory operations grew by 4% to US$14.7 billion. This growth was driven by high demand across the world for advice on strategy, business transformation and value creation in the first nine months of the financial year. Our advisory business differentiates by bringing together consulting, deals and cybersecurity professionals, and our operations benefited from increased teaming with our tax and risk assurance colleagues to provide a more integrated service for our clients that gives the advice and support they need from strategy right through to execution. PwC Advisory now employs over 71,000 people.
Tax & Legal Services: PwC Tax & Legal revenues grew by 2% to US$10.7 billion, with demand for tax reporting and strategy, people and organisation and legal services in the first nine months of the year offset by the impact of the pandemic in the final three months. Guided by our PwC Global Tax Code of Conduct, the over 55,000 professionals in our Tax & Legal Services teams use their knowledge and expertise to help clients – ranging from individuals to the largest global corporations – to navigate complex and challenging environments, address people and legal issues, and comply with their tax and reporting responsibilities.
The year ahead
“While we adapted quickly to many of the new challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, there is no doubt that the next 12 months and beyond are going to be difficult. Our economists are predicting that the global economy will contract by 5.5 % by the end of 2021 and while different countries will recover at different rates it is clear that the economic downturn will impact us and our clients across the world,” said Bob Moritz.
We are now very clearly focused on a number of priorities.
- Jobs: Doing the right things to preserve jobs for our people, continue to invest in building the workforce PwC needs for the future, while maintaining the sustainability of our operations. Unfortunately we have seen some job losses in a few markets around the world, particularly in the advisory business, but we are working hard to limit these by containing non-essential costs and investments.
- Safety and Wellbeing: Where we are returning to office based work, ensuring that our people are safe and comfortable and that we have processes and technologies in place to protect our people in line with relevant safety protocols. And where our people remain working from home, we continue to provide the support that they need to meet the challenges this can bring.
- Quality: The uncertainty created by the pandemic and its economic impact has placed an even greater focus on the importance of trust in institutions, information and increased transparency. Investing in the enhancement of the quality of all of the services we provide to our stakeholders remains our number one priority, including continuing to invest the US$1 billion we announced last year to drive quality and innovation by making us the most cloud-enabled organisation in the world.
- Clients: Supporting our clients across the world as they deal with the impact of the pandemic and look to restart operations, repair their balance sheets and rethink their business models.
- Innovation: Driving and scaling up innovation right across our network and the development of new products and services. As our stakeholders grapple with the challenges of the current economic environment, it is vital that we are able to advise and support them on the best ways to construct sustainable businesses for the future.
- Upskilling: Upskilling our own people and collaborating with UNICEF in support of Generation Unlimited to help upskill young people across the world has become even more important as the pandemic has accelerated the use of technology and remote working. Despite the economic uncertainty, we continue to invest heavily to help our own people and others better prepare for the new world of work.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Redoubling our efforts to create a PwC culture where everyone feels valued, listened to and has the opportunity to grow and succeed and taking a leading role in the global dialogue on diversity. We have created our first global diversity and inclusion leadership council.
“The pandemic brought many challenges but it also brought the opportunity to reflect and to some degree rethink the future. How we work together, how we use technology, what real estate we need, whether we need to travel so much, how to innovate, how to connect with our stakeholders and how to prioritise our health and wellbeing. These are all issues that we are actively working on as we think about the PwC of tomorrow,” said Bob Moritz.
The PwC Global Annual Review will be published in October 2020 and will cover in more detail how PwC responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work that we do with our clients, stakeholders and the communities where we operate, how we supported our people, the results of our quality inspections and how we are embedding a high-quality culture across PwC, and the actions we are taking relating to important issues such as diversity and inclusion.
Clean energy demand for critical minerals set to soar as the world pursues net zero goals
Supplies of critical minerals essential for key clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines need to pick up sharply over the coming decades to meet the world’s climate goals, creating potential energy security hazards that governments must act now to address, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.
The special report, The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions, is the most comprehensive global study to date on the central importance of minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements in a secure and rapid transformation of the global energy sector. Building on the IEA’s longstanding leadership role in energy security, the report recommends six key areas of action for policy makers to ensure that critical minerals enable an accelerated transition to clean energy rather than becoming a bottleneck.
“Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. “The challenges are not insurmountable, but governments must give clear signals about how they plan to turn their climate pledges into action. By acting now and acting together, they can significantly reduce the risks of price volatility and supply disruptions.”
“Left unaddressed, these potential vulnerabilities could make global progress towards a clean energy future slower and more costly – and therefore hamper international efforts to tackle climate change,” Dr Birol said. “This is what energy security looks like in the 21st century, and the IEA is fully committed to helping governments ensure that these hazards don’t derail the global drive to accelerate energy transitions.”
The special report, part of the IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook series, underscores that the mineral requirements of an energy system powered by clean energy technologies differ profoundly from one that runs on fossil fuels. A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a similarly sized gas-fired power plant.
Demand outlooks and supply vulnerabilities vary widely by mineral, but the energy sector’s overall needs for critical minerals could increase by as much as six times by 2040, depending on how rapidly governments act to reduce emissions. Not only is this a massive increase in absolute terms, but as the costs of technologies fall, mineral inputs will account for an increasingly important part of the value of key components, making their overall costs more vulnerable to potential mineral price swings.
The commercial importance of these minerals also grow rapidly: today’s revenue from coal production is ten times larger than from energy transition minerals. However, in climate-driven scenarios, these positions are reversed well before 2040.
To produce the report, the IEA built on its detailed, technology-rich energy modelling tools to establish a unique database showing future mineral requirements under varying scenarios that span a range of levels of climate action and 11 different technology evolution pathways. In climate-driven scenarios, mineral demand for use in batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage is a major force, growing at least thirty times to 2040. The rise of low-carbon power generation to meet climate goals also means a tripling of mineral demand from this sector by 2040. Wind takes the lead, bolstered by material-intensive offshore wind. Solar PV follows closely, due to the sheer volume of capacity that is added. The expansion of electricity networks also requires a huge amount of copper and aluminium.
Unlike oil – a commodity produced around the world and traded in liquid markets – production and processing of many minerals such as lithium, cobalt and some rare earth elements are highly concentrated in a handful of countries, with the top three producers accounting for more than 75% of supplies. Complex and sometimes opaque supply chains also increase the risks that could arise from physical disruptions, trade restrictions or other developments in major producing countries. In addition, while there is no shortage of resources, the quality of available deposits is declining as the most immediately accessible resources are exploited. Producers also face the necessity of stricter environmental and social standards.
The IEA report provides six key recommendations for policy makers to foster stable supplies of critical minerals to support accelerated clean energy transitions. These include the need for governments to lay out their long-term commitments for emission reductions, which would provide the confidence needed for suppliers to invest in and expand mineral production. Governments should also promote technological advances, scale up recycling to relieve pressure on primary supplies, maintain high environmental and social standards, and strengthen international collaboration between producers and consumers.
Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fuelled by COVID-19
Parts of the online economy have boomed since COVID-19 began, while some pre-pandemic big-hitters have seen a reversal of their fortunes in the last year, amid widespread movement restrictions, UN economists have found.
The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea, where internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019, to more than one in four last year.
“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities”, said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The UK also saw a spike in online transactions over the same period, from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent; so too did China (from 20.7 to 24.9 per cent), the US (11 to 14 per cent), Australia (6.3 to 9.4 per cent), Singapore (5.9 to 11.7 per cent) and Canada (3.6 to 6.2 per cent).
Online business-to-consumer (B2C) sales for the world’s top 13 companies stood at $2.9 trillion in 2020, UNCTAD said on Friday.
UNCTAD also said that among the top 13 e-commerce firms – most being from China and the US – those offering ride-hailing and travel services have suffered.
These include holiday site Expedia, which fell from fifth place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, a slide mirrored by travel aggregator, Booking Holdings, and Airbnb.
By comparison, e-firms offering a wider range of services and goods to online consumers fared better, with the top 13 companies seeing a more than 20 per cent increase in their sales – up from 17.9 per cent in 2019.
These winners include Shopify, whose gains rose more than 95 per cent last year – and Walmart (up 72.4 per cent).
Overall, global e-commerce sales jumped to $26.7 trillion in 2019, up four per cent from a year earlier, the UN number-crunchers noted, citing the latest available estimates.
In addition to consumer online purchases, this figure includes “business-to-business” (B2B) trade, which put together was worth 30 per cent of global gross domestic product two years ago.
COVID-19 has reshaped last-mile logistics, with e-commerce deliveries rising 25% in 2020
COVID-19 has shifted the way people buy goods, accelerating the rise in online shopping and e-commerce deliveries. According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, this has led to a 25% rise in consumer e-commerce deliveries in 2020.
The new report, Pandemic, Parcels and Public Vaccination: Envisioning the Next Normal for the Last-Mile Ecosystem, explores changes seen over the last year which will greatly influence last mile deliveries in the future. For example, it’s expected that 10%-20% of the recent increase in e-commerce deliveries will continue after the pandemic and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Covid-19 shutdowns have completely reshaped how we live and of course this includes how and what we’re buying,” said Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility, World Economic Forum. “Leaders must consider and respond to the effects COVID-19 has had on e-commerce deliveries and what impact these changes will have on their cities and communities.”
Beyond rising demand, the past year has also seen a large shift to greener delivery options, with wider spread EV across the industry and more stringent carbon emission rules from cities expected to shape delivery networks in the near future.
Overall, the report finds six main structural changes to the delivery and logistics sector that are expected to last:
Six structural changes
The pandemic has caused an increase in last-mile deliveries that are likely to persist.
In 2020, business-to-consumer parcel deliveries have risen by about 25%. The report suggests that part of this increased demand will be durable, with at least 10%-20% of the growth remaining post-pandemic.
Consumers increasingly buy new types of products online and consider environmental and health impact when buying.
As consumers continue to buy a wider array of goods online, they are also becoming more ecologically aware. For example, 56% of millennials cite environmental protection as the reason for choosing alternatives to home delivery.
Decarbonization of last-mile deliveries has accelerated.
Companies and cities have ramped up commitments to make emission-free deliveries, while many pandemic-related economic stimulus packages, especially in the European Union and China, contain provisions to support green mobility and goods transport.
Faced with budget challenges and increased transport needs, cities steer last-mile transitions.
Many cities, like Seattle and Boston, have started to repurpose kerb space to designated delivery pick-up. Others, including Santa Monica and Amsterdam, are taking bold action on cleaner delivery with “zero-emission delivery zones” and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Proven technologies are fuelling the last-mile ecosystem revolution.
While disruptive new technologies, such as drones and delivery robots, will continue to emerge, the last-mile revolution is happening now as proven technologies scale up. The likes of parcel lockers and data sharing for load pooling are being adopted around the world as the costs of implementation decrease
New business models emerge to meet increased demand for sustainable delivery vehicles.
Certain logistics companies are now offering services to online retailers, which will help them identify the delivery routes most suited to make the immediate transition to electric delivery vehicles.
Last mile for vaccines
While ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines remains the most pressing issue in global vaccine distribution, effective last-mile delivery is another critical issue for countries. The key challenges are cold storage, second vaccine dose needs, and a disconnect between the vaccine and patient journey.
“Governments and logistics companies could think about teaming up with players who are experienced in managing very local, capillary demand and with integrating a large number of local retail outlets,” says Anja Huber, Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company. “Examples include large online retailers, eGrocery giants and technology platform players”
Potential solutions countries can implement for efficient vaccine delivery include real-time logistics planning, data integration, centralized management of delivery strategies at the national level and many more.
There are also early examples of countries that have handled this challenge particularly well. While there are many factors in vaccine distribution success, broadly speaking, countries with tight integration of healthcare and logistics stakeholders seem to show the highest national vaccination rates two months into 2021.
These include Israel, the UK and Chile outperforming other countries with more decentralized healthcare systems, like the US and Germany, which had slower initial vaccine rollouts.
Clearly, much still needs to be done to ensure developed countries overcome operational issues with vaccine delivery. However, mobility solutions should not overshadow an even larger ethical challenge in the differences of vaccine access between the global north and global south, which is a priority for greater equity.
Future of the last mile
The impact of COVID-19 on the last-mile delivery has accelerated existing trends across the sector, leading to six structural changes expected to shape the future of last mile deliveries.
These will be part of a broader urban mobility transition, driven by public policy and company actions. As cities and logistics leaders continue the sustainable urban delivery transition, close public-private coordination will be critical. Zero Emissions Urban Fleets (ZEUF) network, for example, provides a relevant dedicated stakeholder platform for this work.
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