PwC develops tax-planning, ESG and learning apps

PricewaterhouseCoopers is testing out three new apps for its clients to use for tax planning; environmental, social and governance reporting; and upskilling their employees.

PwC demonstrated the apps Tuesday for reporters during an online press conference.

The Beacon tax app provides international tax provisioning and modeling features and can do scenario planning and visualizations to help companies plan around events like the November election and what the situation might look like under a Joe Biden or a second Donald Trump administration. Companies can plan out scenarios for their taxes according to what will be their current vs. expected income. The portal provides legislative updates, tax-provisioning calculations and modeling features for future law changes.

PwC international tax services leader Doug McHoney said the app reflects a 20-year evolution that the international tax services practice has been going through at the firm. “Given the amount of uncertainty for companies regarding the general election outcomes, we’re helping clients use technology to scenario plan for potential changes in tax policy,” he said.

The Beacon app can model other types of what-if scenarios aside from the November election. “We can structure our modeling and scenario planning for any number of different tax changes,” said McHoney. “That can include U.S. corporate tax changes. It can include state and local changes. We’ve also been closely following the international changes with respect to BEPS 2.0. All of those are things that we do for our clients.”

The ESG Pulse app helps companies assess their environmental, social and governance against metrics from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and benchmark themselves against others in the industry (see story). It can consolidate information from different business units and regions to deliver insights so companies can visualize their current status on SASB and TCFD disclosure metrics. Consultants can set up an assessment for a client by navigating through a built-in “wizard” and do both trial and full assessments on greenhouse gas emissions, employee diversity and inclusion, employee health and safety, and data security. Users can navigate through a library characterized by sector, industry and topic, and then select the metrics that are the best fit for them.

PwC may eventually expand the metrics supported in ESG Pulse beyond SASB and TCFD. “We’re starting with the frameworks that are most prevalent today, SASB and TCFD,” said Wes Bricker, vice chair and U.S. and Mexico assurance leader at PwC. “But the app is designed in a flexible way for us to incorporate changes in either SASB or TCFD standards. Those are living standards and change from time to time, and we can pull that into the app. Then we can also expand to bring to the marketplace comparisons relative to, for example, the World Economic Forum standards or any of the other frameworks. We really can bring to light a highly relevant comparison to benchmarks, standards and practices so that companies can get the feedback they need to continue to reinforce and strengthen the disclosure of practices as well as the process for preparing those disclosures.”

The ProEdge app helps identify skills gaps at clients and provides future skills forecasting, benchmarking and personalized learning paths to achieve organizational goals. Skill-building modules include content and opportunities for employees to earn industry-recognized credentials. Clients can benchmark themselves against other companies in their industry. The app includes links to training courses from Coursera and approximately 40 other content providers.

PwC has made a $3 billion global investment in an upskilling initiative called “New World, New Skills” to update the skills of its over 275,000 employees and build new technologies for clients, which have helped them adjust during the pandemic to a remote workforce.

“It’s helped us maintain our focus on what we truly are, helping and serving our clients, particularly as so many clients faced the toughest days of their careers,” said Joe Atkinson, vice chair and chief products and technology officer at PwC. “To us our commitment to workforce transformation is really about unlocking the power of the firm. We’re not just upskilling our people. It’s about delivering intelligent automation and tech-enabled solutions to clients in every part of the service and assurance and consulting that we offer.”

The Beacon app has been in use for years by PwC and its clients, but it’s being updated with a new rules engine. The ESG Pulse app debuted this month. The ProEdge app is currently being beta tested with PwC consulting clients.

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