On January 12, 2017, PwC announced the acquisition of GE’s tax department.
As part of the deal PwC will hire about 600 of GE’s professionals from their tax department.
You read that correctly — PwC is acquiring GE’s tax department.
You might be saying what in the world are they thinking. I said the same thing.
PwC isn’t just hiring the GE employees as PwC employees. PwC is essentially hiring them and then using them to prepare all of GE’s tax obligations.
In PwC’s official release they said this acquisition will help them focus on their Tax Function of the Future. This is because PwC also acquired the tax technologies of the GE tax department.
This is a 5 year agreement with Ge that begins on April 1, 2017.
Mark Mendola, PwC’s tax practice leader, said the following
The caliber of talent joining our firm from GE is remarkable. This arrangement will enable us to continue providing our clients with the very best tax services in an increasingly volatile and uncertain environment. Integrating GE’s talent with PwC’s broad capabilities will allow us to deliver upon the Tax Function of the Future in an increasingly digitally enable world.
GE said the following
The agreement allows us continued access to the world-class expertise of global leaders along with the flexibility to scale requirements of the changing GE portfolio. We are pleased to advance our longtime relationship with PwC in a way that provides an opportunity for other leading companies to tap into the world’s best tax team while providing outstanding career opportunities for those legacy GE professionals.
Quick facts about PwC Tax
The GE tax department will be joining the PwC tax group.
📌 PwC has the largest tax practice of the Big 4 Accounting Firms in the world
📌 PwC tax is a network of over 41,000 tax professionals
📌 PwC tax operates in 157 countries
Does this deal make sense?
This deal makes no sense to me for a number of reasons. What is the motivation for the people coming from GE tax? They are essentially going to be floating inside of PwC for 5 years without knowing their fate.
Something doesn’t seem right with this whole acquisition. It would make sense if PwC was just acquiring the talent and onboarding them as PwC employees. Instead this is just temporarily employing them to work on GE tax work.
It would also make sense if PwC was taking over GE’s tax department permanently. They aren’t though. They are just getting a 5 year shot at it.
Another thing that jumped out at me is that PwC might have been strong-armed into this arrangement.
PwC’s tax practice lives off the GE account. GE needed to get rid of these employees. As the press release says there are some very senior people in the department. That means tons of overhead with little return. GE has been scaling the department down now for some time now as the company shrinks to avoid over-regulation.
GE might have panicked and shopped this idea to multiple Big 4 firms. When no one bit, they probably told pwc to bite the bullet or face losing all their tax work.
What will happen to the GE employees?
Many of these people were going to be laid off if they weren’t acquired by PwC. Since PwC did not have great growth last year, I’m sure there is a strong chance they will lay off some of these employees.
What this looks like to me is that GE wanted to outsource the layoffs to PwC. Now PwC doesn’t lay off many people, but PwC is great at generating high turnover. Maybe GE is hoping that PwC will be able to get most of these employees to leave, and then GE will reacquire the department after 5 years.
How will PwC motivate the GE employees?
What is the motivation for these GE employees to stay with PwC? You have to be willing to stay in limbo for 5 years if you are going to work at PwC for GE. There will probably be limited promotions and constant assessment of whether or not the deal is worth it.
These people will be under a microscope. They aren’t wanted at GE and the staff at PwC will be competitive with them. They are going to be outsiders at PwC.
How will PwC motivate these employees to stay at PwC?
How will PwC motivate their staff?
How will PwC motivate their own employees after this deal?
If these GE employees will actually work on other PwC clients, what is the motivation for current PwC staff to stay on board in the industries impacted. The people most impacted are the managers and senior managers in financial services tax.
Acquiring over 600 veteran employees is a hard pill for current PwC staff to swallow. This clogs up the pipeline. PwC is going to have to release some internal bulletins to brainwash their own employees to stay.
The press release itself says that many of the employees are veteran lawyers. That is basically saying those are partner-ready people who will be utilized on many of PwC’s clients. That is work that would have previously gone to PwC employees that will now go to GE employees.
This deal does not make a whole lot of sense to me on its face. I think there are a lot more factors at play here that will come out in the near future. We will either see a mass exodus from the GE employees or PwC employees. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and like our facebook to stay up to date. Also make sure to comment below to give your thoughts about the deal.