* Prices may differ from that shown
Hey up there, here come the men in suits, with good old dave27 at last turning his expert eye upon his own kind, THE ACCOUNTANT... Accountants always get a very bad press, with their status in the boredom stakes a little bit above actuaries - the grey men in pin stripes with a briefcase and white shirt - reviled by many but known by few - a necessary evil in the world of business. PricewaterhouseCoopers (yes, you read it write, that is exactly how it should be written and you should see their logo, but hereafter termed PwC) are actually a great deal more than just a bunch of accountants, with the firm embracing management consultancy, HR expertise, facilities management outsourcing expertise and a myriad of other things and they're much like any of these larger business services organisation. I nearly joined Price Waterhouse as a management consultant, well before they merged with Coopers and Lybrand to become one of the world's largest firms, but thought better of it in the end and opted to stay where I was. I had always been impressed with them and had experience of both firms as auditors in many of the companies I have worked with, so had looked forward to climbing aboard the brotherhood, but just couldn't bring myself to do so in the end. PwC's website - http://www.pwcglobal.com/ - gives a lot of good information about the firm and contains the following brief rundown on their history: 1849 Samuel Lowell Price sets up in business in London 1854 William Cooper establishes his own practice in London, which seven years later becomes Cooper Brothers 1865 Price, Holyland and Waterhouse join forces in partnership 1874 Name changes to Price, Waterhouse & Co. 1898 Robert H. Montgomery, William M. Lybrand, Adam A. Ross Jr. and his brother T. Edward Ross form Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery 1957 Cooper Brothers & Co (UK), McDonald, Currie and Co (Canada) and Lybrand, Ross Bros & Mont
gomery (US) merge to form Coopers & Lybrand 1982 Price Waterhouse World Firm formed 1990 Coopers & Lybrand merges with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in a number of countries around the world 1998 Worldwide merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand to create PricewaterhouseCoopers Racy stuff hey? You probably get a flavour from this of the way the bigger firms have rationalised themselves over the years, with a whole string of mergers between large firms turning 'The Big Eight' into 'The Big Four' and lining the heaving pockets of the partners. The auditors for the NHS Trust where I work are PwC, and I'm quite chummy with the manager who leads the annual audit. He told us recently of the time when one of the PwC partners and he were killing some time in a far off town while on an assignment and happened across a boatyard. The partner espied a speedboat and decided he had to have it, so he walked up to the owner, drew out a big wad of notes and paid out £120,000 in cash there on the spot for the privilege. When you get to be a partner in one of these organisations, money starts to lose its meaning... The same audit manager also told me some bits about the sort of training these guys get - totally bizarre. They're told to buy themselves a good watch, always keep their shirt sleeves firmly done up and buy a nice pen, because apparently, the shirt is their armour, the watch their shield and the pen their sword - sounds a bit like the masons... If you are thinking of joining one of the big firms and training as a Chartered Accountant, you will no doubt be attracted by the big bucks at the end of the training when you can step up into the land of milk and honey of a partnership, but be prepared when you start to be treated like slave labour, the lowest of the low. Audit firms wipe their shoes on their junior staff and treat them like dirt - it's never natural. You also n
eed to be prepared to shed all illusions of being a likeable human being, because Chartered Accountants without exception are arrogant, smug, self opinionated, self important snobs without a pleasant bone in their bodies - I know, I have met a few and can say that there is only one Chartered whom I have ever had any time for. Okay, mad eyed rant over. PwC are as good or bad as any of these firms - they have a professional and expert approach to their clients and usually provide a good if expensive service. I certainly wouldn't want to work for them, but you do tend to reap the rewards in the end for tipping your forelock to the big nobs, so if you're prepared to kiss butt, these guys may just be the right choice for you. For the rest of us poor mortals, they're ripe for having the wet ripped out of them, so go ahead...