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New PwC JV shines in Asean

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS has seen its Southeast Asia consulting business grow by 25 per cent over the last 12 months, thanks partly to a new regional joint venture launched a year ago, according to its senior executives.

Derek Kidley, chief executive officer of the JV, South East Asian Consulting (SEAC), said it had witnessed rapid growth across the region, adding nearly 100 consultants since last August when it was formed. As a result, it currently has about 600 consultants working in the Asean region.

SEAC was established by spinning off PwC's consultancy units in six major Asean countries that hold a combined 70-per-cent share in the company. PwC practices in Australia, New Zealand and the United States hold the remaining 30 per cent.

Of the nearly 100 new consultants added, between 20 and 30 have been recruited for the Thai operation, which has grown rapidly despite the economic and political uncertainties in the country, said Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, a PwC consulting lead partner.

Kidley said the new JV had helped PwC leverage its resources and expertise across the region, enabled it to move faster to serve clients, and allowed it to make better investment decisions.

"We can put skills in a particular territory. It's all about clients … top clients want to get access to the best consultants," he said.

Among the fastest-growing areas for PwC consulting in the region included advisories on technology, strategies, and "people and change".

Kidley said PwC looked to grow and add a similar number of staff in Asean over the next 12 months. Its acquisition of Booz & Company (now Strategy&), famous for its strategy consultancy, in April helped PwC raise its profile from the perspective of its clients even further.

Vilaiporn said that because of domestic turbulence, many Thai companies had seen the need of finding the right business models to help them grow their businesses abroad. Human-resource issues such as preparing staff for overseas business expansion, generational shifts in the workforce, and succession planning are among the new much-sought-after areas that few Thai clients talked about just five years ago.

The PwC consultants were speaking to The Nation on the sidelines of the "TMA Top Talk" event held by the Thailand Management Association this week. At the conference, Kidley elaborated on the five mega-trends that will transform the business landscape globally: technological breakthroughs, a shift of global economic power to Asia, demographic shifts, climate change and resource scarcity, and accelerating urbanisation.

He said a PwC survey found more than 80 per cent of chief executives worldwide said technology was the No 1 issue they were dealing with, and nearly one-quarter thought technologies could radically reshape their business models.

"Technology is a huge, huge, huge issue. I've just talked with the CEO of one of the top three banks in Australia, and he said: 'I don't feel like a CEO any more. I feel like I'm a CIO,'" or chief information officer.

The PwC survey found business analytics as the No 1 area that companies (44 per cent) are spending on to improve their technology capability, followed by investments in socially enabled business processes (41 per cent), cyber-security (39 per cent), mobile customer engagement (39 per cent), on-demand business and technology services (25 per cent), and sensors (20 per cent).

Vilaiporn said Thai companies still had problems collecting quality customer data to help them pursue business analytics effectively.

Kidley was formerly the head of PwC Australia, before moving to head the newly formed South East Asia Consulting unit, which is based in Singapore.


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