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PwC reports global revenues up 3% to US$43 billion

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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.

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Curbing Corruption in the Midst of a Pandemic is More Important Than Ever

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Progress against corruption can be made even under the most challenging conditions, a new World Bank report finds. At a time when unprecedented levels of emergency funds have been mobilized to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report offers a fresh look at some of the most effective approaches and tools to enhance government accountability.

Enhancing Government Effectiveness and Transparency: The Fight Against Corruption focuses on ways to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies in the sectors most affected. It serves as a reference guide to policy makers and anti-corruption champions as further work is needed to sharpen the application of traditional tools.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in large scale emergency spending by governments at rapid speed to revive the economy as well as protect the poor and vulnerable who suffer disproportionately. As countries embark on the road to a more resilient and inclusive recovery, prudent use of scarce resources in a transparent manner is critical,” said World Bank Managing Director Mari Pangestu, “Progress is possible in all environments and we are committed to work closely with our partners in government, civil society, and the private sector to address corruption and its corrosive impacts.”

Some of the unprecedented emergency spending against COVID-19 has occurred without adhering to the regular checks and balances. While speed is understandable, without proper controls, it exposes governments to a variety of corruption risks that may undermine the effectiveness of their responses. To foster greater accountability, the report calls on governments to clearly articulate their actions, enforce rules, address violations, and remedy problems as quickly as possible, and in a transparent manner.

The report covers five key thematic areas: public procurement, infrastructure, state-owned enterprises, customs administration, and service delivery, and cross-cutting themes such as open government initiatives and GovTech, with case study examples from around the world. It will help equip public sector officials and civil society with a modular set of approaches and tools that can be drawn upon and adapted to their specific country context. 

The report’s case studies show that measures to curb corruption are often opportunistic, targeting specific areas of vulnerability where and when the political space allows. But even when actions have apparently limited impact, they can provide important foundation for future progress.

In Bangladesh, the implementation of the e-Government Procurement, combined with increased transparency and citizen participation, halved the number of single bidder tenders which improved competition significantly; increased the number of contracts awarded to non-local firms; and led to better prices with successful bidders.

Colombia updated its e-procurement system to publish data in an open way following international standards.  As a result, single bid tenders in the public roads agency, INVIAS, went down from 30% to 22%, while cities like Cali saw competitive processes increase from 31% to 56% in about two years.

In Ukraine, making wealth declaration forms of public officials available online was recognized by citizens and the international community as a key tool in the fight against corruption. The latest data shows that close to 5,3 million documents in the e-declarations system are accessible to the public. As of mid-2020, the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine had 19 cases against officials accused of submitting false information in the Asset and Interest Declaration or intentionally not submitting a declaration.

In Afghanistan, the customs department has been progressively implementing a countrywide computerization of customs clearance operations. Although significant vulnerabilities exist and revenue loss at the borders remains a substantial challenge, revenue collected by customs has increased seven-fold between 2004 and 2019, and clearance time and the transparency of trade transactions has improved significantly.

The land reform program in Rwanda helped manage the conflicts around land and led to increased efficiency, transparency, citizen participation, and development of viable land governance institutions. Automation of land records reduced bribes paid to land registry officials as the information was in public domain.

“Institutions are incredibly important for implementing government policies, engaging civil society, and ensuring greater transparency in government operations,” said Ed Olowo-Okere, World Bank Global Director for Governance, “The global report highlights the importance of complimenting the traditional methods of dealing with corruption with advanced ones like GovTech and e-Procurement to address corruption, even in the most challenging and fragile environments.”

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. We will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.

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A rapid rise in battery innovation is playing a key role in clean energy transitions

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Affordable and flexible electricity storage technologies are set to catalyse transitions to clean energy around the world, enabling cleaner electricity to penetrate a burgeoning range of applications. Between 2005 and 2018, patenting activity in batteries and other electricity storage technologies grew at an average annual rate of 14% worldwide, four times faster than the average of all technology fields, according to a new joint study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency.

The report, Innovation in batteries and electricity storage – a global analysis based on patent data, shows that batteries account for nearly 90% of all patenting activity in the area of electricity storage, and that the rise in innovation is chiefly driven by advances in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronic devices and electric cars. Electric mobility in particular is fostering the development of new lithium-ion chemistries aimed at improving power output, durability, charge/discharge speed and recyclability. Technological progress is also being fuelled by the need to integrate larger quantities of renewable energy such as wind and solar power into electricity networks.

The joint study shows that Japan and Korea have established a strong lead in battery technology globally, and that technical progress and mass production in an increasingly mature industry have led to a significant drop in battery prices in recent years. Prices have declined by nearly 90% since 2010 in the case of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, and by around two-thirds over the same period for stationary applications, including electricity grid management.

Developing better and cheaper electricity storage is a major challenge for the future. According to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, for the world to meet climate and sustainable energy goals, close to 10 000 gigawatt-hours of batteries and other forms of energy storage will be required worldwide by 2040 – 50 times the size of the current market.

“IEA projections make it clear that energy storage will need to grow exponentially in the coming decades to enable the world to meet international climate and sustainable energy goals. Accelerated innovation will be essential for achieving that growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “By combining the complementary strengths of the IEA and the EPO, this report sheds new light on today’s innovation trends to help governments and businesses make smart decisions for our energy future.”

“Electricity storage technology is critical when it comes to meeting the demand for electric mobility and achieving the shift towards renewable energy that is needed if we are to mitigate climate change,” said EPO President António Campinos. “The rapid and sustained rise in electricity storage innovation shows that inventors and businesses are tackling the challenge of the energy transition. The patent data reveals that while Asia has a strong lead in this strategic industry, the US and Europe can count on a rich innovation ecosystem, including a large number of SMEs and research institutions, to help them stay in the race for the next generation of batteries.”

The joint study follows the publication earlier in September of the major IEA report Energy Technology Perspectives 2020, which has deepened the IEA’s technology analysis, setting out the challenges and opportunities associated with rapid clean energy transitions.

As governments and companies seek to make informed investments in clean energy innovation for the future, sector-specific insights like those offered by the joint study will be highly valuable, including for helping bring about a sustainable economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. The innovation study provides an authoritative overview of the technologies and applications receiving research attention – and of those that are underserved. It also shows where they stand in the competitive landscape.

Innovation is increasingly recognised as a core part of energy policy, and this year the IEA has been introducing more tools to help decision-makers understand the technology landscape and their role in it – and to track progress in innovation and the deployment of technologies. This includes a comprehensive new interactive guide to the market readiness of more than 400 clean energy technologies.

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Russia Among Global Top Ten Improvers for Progress Made in Health and Education

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Russia is among the top ten countries globally for improvements to human capital development over the last decade, according to the latest update of the World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI).

The 2020 Human Capital Index includes health and education data for 174 countries covering 98 percent of the world’s population up to March 2020.

Russia’s improvements were largely in health, reflected in better child and adult survival rates and reduced stunting. Across the Europe and Central Asia region, Russia, along with Azerbaijan, Albania, Montenegro, and Poland, also made the largest gains in increasing expected years of schooling – mainly due to improvements in secondary school and pre-primary enrollments. The report also shows that over the last 10 years Russia has seen a reduction in adult mortality rates. However, absolute values of this indicator remain high in the country with this progress now at risk due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Human capital contributes greatly to improving of economic growth in every country. Investments in knowledge and health that people accumulate during their lives are of paramount concern to governments around the world. Russia is among the top improvers globally in the Index. However, challenges persist and much needs to be done to improve the absolute values of Index indicators,” said Renaud Seligmann, the World Bank Country Director in Russia.

The HCI, first launched in 2018, looks at a child’s trajectory, from birth to age 18, on such critical metrics as child survival (birth to age 5); expected years of primary and secondary education adjusted for quality; child stunting; and adult survival rates. HCI 2020, based on data up to March of this year, provides a crucial pre-pandemic baseline that can help inform health and education policies and investments for the post-pandemic recovery.

Of the 48 countries in Europe and Central Asia included in the 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), 33 are among the upper-third in the world, and almost all are in the top half. However, there are significant variations within the region.

In Russia, a child born today can expect to achieve 68 percent of the productivity of a fully educated adult in optimal health. It is at the average level for Europe and Central Asia countries and the third result globally among the countries of the same income group. There is a stark contrast between education and health subscales in Russia. While the education outcomes of the country are high and outperform many high-income peers, its health outcomes are below the global average.

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