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The big four

September 2018



Former PwC executive to replace Jack Ma

Jack Ma, Chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, will be replaced by current Chief Executive Officer and former PwC executive Daniel Zhang, as part of a succession plan announced on Ma’s 54th birthday. By 10 September 2019, the multi-billionaire will resign to focus on philanthropy and teaching, and says the move will fostering long-term growth and reduce independence on any one person in the company. “I have put a lot of thought and preparation into this succession plan,” Ma wrote in a letter to Alibaba customers and shareholders. Zhang, the current Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company, was senior executive at PwC’s audit and business advisory division in Shanghai. Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Ma and 17 co-founders.


PwC U.K. launches flexible working scheme

PwC is allowing some of its new recruits to decide on their own working hours. By providing better hours and even part-time contracts, the firm aims to attract a more diverse pool of talent that might have otherwise dismissed the firm due to its traditional work schedules. Dubbed the Flexible Talent Network, the scheme also offers new employees the option of working only a few months of the year. Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer at the firm said, “People in the network will get to spend their year their way, whether it’s because of caring commitments, entrepreneurs supplementing their income, people who want to travel or simply not work all of the year.” More than 2,000 people registered for the scheme within the first two weeks.


Tesla chief accountant officer resigns

The Chief Accounting Officer of Tesla, Dave Morton, quit just shy of a month after signing his contract, claiming he was ignored on multiple occasions by colleagues, including Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. Morton notes that executives, including Musk, were not concerned with various financial obstacles, even after he brought up specific details such as equity change of control provisions and potential step-ups in the value of Tesla’s debt associated with a new controlling shareholder. Following a meeting with Musk to discuss details regarding taking the company private and a tweet announcing the decision, Morton claims he was ignored, and after two weeks concluded he was neither heard or understood.


No need to break up Big Four, says EY chief

Mark Weinberger, EY’s Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, hit back at calls for the Big Four to break up by critics concerned about the audit market being dominated by EY, KPMG, PwC and Deloitte, leading to low quality audits of companies, and conflicts of interest. Weinberger said EY needed to draw on expertise from across its business in order to conduct high-quality audits for multinational clients, the Financial Times reported this month. While he understands the scrutiny of auditors, he commented that clients such as Google and Amazon could not be served “without a multidisciplinary group of people to assess their risks going forward as a business, and [those employees] don’t all sit in our audit practice.”