Age-old values

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A 95-year-old existence is a long time. More so in the professional services industry, where new ways of thinking and doing things come up every day.

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Yet if you ask PwC Philippines Chairman and Senior Partner Alex Cabrera, a lawyer, if he still recognizes the firm he first joined in 1988, the answer in the affirmative is immediate; the reason, instinctive: values.

Cabrera is the boyish-looking head of the Philippine office of the world’s most powerful professional services brand (and 8th most powerful brand overall, just behind Lego, Google, Nike, Ferrari, Visa, Walt Disney and NBC, according to consultancy Brand Finance earlier this year). Yet, he already exudes a gray-haired wisdom in placing a premium on values—those inherent in both the Filipino Isla Lipana and the global PwC.

Left to right: Tax Partner Roselle Yu Caraig, Tax Managing Partner Malou Lim, and Accounting Services Partner Fedna Parallag

In a word, it’s all about integrity, according to him.

Integrity remains, “regardless of the changes in the methods of doing things,” Cabrera states.

Integrity is at the center of their purpose of building trust in society and solving important problems.

Integrity is the reason he takes so much pride in sharing that they passed the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) inspection, 100 percent b; “Malaking bagay sa isang (It’s a big thing for an) audit firm; we passed that – without exception,” he declares.

The trust brought about by their insistence on integrity is what keeps clients with them – and brings in new ones.

Cabrera reveals that publicly listed Ortigas & Co. has been with them almost from the beginning, entrusting the firm to handle their audit for decades now.

Of course, the emphasis on integrity comes with the trust that the PwC team can deliver. You have to have it, says Cabrera: that’s 50 percent of landing an engagement.

The PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner is also quick to dispel perceptions that his firm is expensive and therefore only for huge companies and multinationals:

“ ‘Expensive’ is relative, and is actually based on the value you get and on the insights we bring to the table,” he explains, saying that the firm is not “myopic” in terms of what clients it serves and that they are able to put forward services or advice that are particularly sensitive to their business issues.

He cites the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (yes, they are the auditors of the Papal funds in the Philippines) as clients. Davao City has asked PwC to look into their investment incentives offerings. They have also advised the Public-Private Partnership Center on enticing foreign players to invest in infrastructure locally.

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