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PwC Australia axes over 300 jobs in major restructure and $100m cost cut

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By Imelda Cotton - 
PwC Australia job cuts tax scandal

Prestigious consulting firm PwC Australia is set to axe more than 330 jobs in an effort to claw back $100 million in overheads on the back of reduced demand for its services.

The major restructure will see 329 staff redundancies, while as many as 37 partners will bring forward their retirement over the next nine months.

The firm’s 7,200-strong workforce was informed of the cuts this week and those directly affected are expected be notified within the coming days.

Tax scandal

The move follows a slowdown in PwC’s business activities triggered by a post-pandemic economy.

It has been reportedly designed to ensure the firm is “simplified” in the wake of a controversial year in business that included a tax scandal involving federal government documents.

In mid-2023, media outlets reported that the firm’s tax practice had misused confidential Treasury briefings over a number of years to help clients bend the impending tax laws.

PwC was effectively barred from winning any new contracts with the Department of Finance, while other major government projects were suspended.

Realigning the business

Chief executive officer Kevin Burrowes said the restructure was aimed at realigning the business with a new long-term strategy which moves away from government contracts towards a “private and corporate sector client base”.

“At its heart, this reorganisation will make the firm a more simplified, efficient and centre-led business, enabling us to continue delivering the highest quality of service to our corporate and private sector clients,” he said.

“This has been a very challenging and complex process, but an important one… we acknowledge that days like today are especially difficult for those affected [and] we will work closely with impacted individuals to ensure they are aware of their options and next steps.”

PwC is also reconfiguring its management leadership team to add a chief information officer and chief financial officer in an effort to reduce layers and simplify the leadership team.

The company has said it will continue to hire people, including graduates and offers made to new starters.

It plans to appoint new partners on 1 July, in line with the new strategy.

Series of cost-cuts

Today’s news is the latest in a series of cost-cuts for PwC Australia.

In November, the firm slashed more than 300 jobs and closed its Skilled Service Hub support centre in Adelaide to absorb reduced demand after the tax scandal.

The cuts involved 141 redundancies from the support centre — opened in 2021 to support PwC’s growing public sector business — along with 197 cuts across the organisation.

At the time, the cuts were attributed to “a reduction in the size of the business, the firm’s changing portfolio and strategic areas of focus and economic headwinds”.

In July, PwC sold its government consulting division for just $1 to private equity firm Allegro Funds after many departments refused to give it new work.

That division generated about 20% of firm’s revenue and a new spin-off firm, Scyne Advisory, was created to save jobs.