What can we learn from this “abnormal” year, as John Parkhouse called it? Mainly the emergence of four major business trends that have driven activity.
The first was, unsurprisingly, the significant acceleration of the digital transformation. What started out as a requirement to keep the business going will leave a legacy of greater customer acceptance of virtual and digital solutions and the emergence of a new key success factor for every business: creating value through the digital experience.
The second trend has been the rise of the so-called private markets: private equity, real estate, private debt and infrastructure investments. These products are beginning to attract professional investors, taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the AIFM directive, and are therefore beginning to attract traditional asset managers from the Ucits world to this segment. In addition, there is the momentum created by numerous public-private partnership initiatives to finance major infrastructure investments, such as the energy transition to renewables. Alternative products have been a major growth area and will continue to drive asset management, asset servicing and corporate banking in Luxembourg, Parkhouse stated during an exclusive briefing with Delano and Paperjam.
The rise of ESG
The third underlying trend is the rise of ESG criteria, which are becoming increasingly integrated into companies' strategies and practices, which implies a rethink of the way they work. “The biggest impact we can really have in terms of changing the dial is by what we can do with our clients. That's our leverage point--our ability to really help our clients understand what those needs are, where this is going, and what that tactically means, and how they can come out of the [transition] stronger,” Parkhouse stated. “If we can get that right, then, we can exponentially have a positive impact”.
Finally, there is the transformation of the public sector, whose role is growing and which is opening up to private sector partnerships. This implies significant transformation and development needs and potential new markets. For PwC Luxembourg, the presence of multiple European institutions is an asset that the firm has been able to capitalise on in recent months, according to François Mousel, clients and markets leader.
Logically, these trends have contributed to the “fantastic result” of the consulting firm’s financial year. The financial year ran from July 2020 to June 2021.
To meet the demands and needs of its clients, PwC Luxembourg is organised around five key sectors: alternative investments, asset and wealth management, banking and capital markets, non-financial sector (a category that includes industry and the public sector) and insurance. These sectors have diverged in their evolution.
Thus, the alternative sector, which represents 38.7% of turnover, is up by 18.5%, driven by the boom in the alternative investment sector.
On the other hand, the asset and wealth management sector--which accounts for 24% of the firm's turnover--fell slightly by 0.8%.
The banking and capital markets sector--12% of the firm's turnover--recorded a 9% increase in its activity, driven by consulting and auditing activities.
In insurance--3.7% of turnover--growth reached 29.7%, driven by the needs of companies to cope with regulatory and technological transitions.
Finally, the non-financial sector, which includes industry and the public sector, accounting for 14.9% and 6.7% of PwC Luxembourg's turnover respectively, saw its activity fall by 9.8%. This decline is mainly attributable to the consolidation of the international tax portfolio activities. Consulting activities with strong momentum in the public sector, fuelled by a busy European and governmental agenda in areas such as modernisation and transformation, digitalisation--as well as policy advice on climate finance, modernisation and transformation, digitalisation and the healthcare sector--supported the business. Demand for data analytics, artificial intelligence and cyber services also reached record levels.
Half a billion in revenue in sight
Taken individually, these sectors offer enormous opportunities and have their own dynamics. But above all, as Olivier Carré, financial services market leader, points out, taken together, they promote a “cross-fertilisation” that provides the entire Luxembourg economic ecosystem with a surplus of growth from which all players benefit.
Broken down by service line--a more traditional presentation--the 2020-2021 financial year saw advisory services activity grow by 4.4%, audit activity by 9.8% and tax activity by 0.7%.
For the current financial year, the outlook is even better. “We have a strong pipeline”, Mousel stated during the briefing. The firm expects that 2022 could be the year in which the half-billion-euro turnover ceiling will be broken.
Read this article in French on Paperjam.lu
Corrected, 26 October: A previous version of this article mistakenly inverted the growth rate for turnover and net revenue.