A word from our Chairman

Looking back on a good year

With growth of almost 12% in terms of net revenues and nearly 10 percent increase in our headcount in FY23, I believe we can look back on a very good year for our firm, especially given the current context of uncertainty in which we operate. The growth we’ve realised epitomises the trust that clients place in us to help them achieve their ambitions and build trust with their own stakeholders. And that, for a large part, thanks to the commitment of our people to innovating, working together and providing the highest quality services.

The only constant is change

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once famously said, “the only constant in life is change.” This is a phrase that’s often been quoted over recent years and for good reason. The ways in which the world has changed and the pace of change - be it technological advancements, geopolitical developments or whatever - is unprecedented and that itself isn’t going to change.

Given that change is a constant and will likely only continue to accelerate, to survive we - our clients and our people - must adapt. Our clients look to us as a guiding light to help them not just remain relevant and achieve sustained outcomes, but make sure that stakeholders have trust in their business. Our people also expect us to help them remain relevant in terms of skills and experience, and our vast array of learning and development opportunities help them do precisely that. It’s not by chance that we’re known as one of the best business schools in the world. We believe we’ve a responsibility to help people gain the competences and know how to make a tangible positive difference in the world.

Pride in our people

This year again, I’m immensely proud of what our people have achieved. Our results are wholly down to the work they do in supporting client businesses and helping them adapt and grow for the future. It’s their hard work and commitment that enable us to achieve the impressive results we have. 

They’ve not only worked hard to support clients, but have a positive impact on the communities around us too. Once again, this year saw us helping people and societies across Belgium, specifically during our Impact Week when more than 1,260 of our people took time out of work, rolled up their sleeves and went on site to lend a hand to to rebuild the homes and lives of those affected by the flooding that happened in Belgium almost two years ago. The cameras and media may have moved on, but we haven’t. Our plan is to keep going back and helping out while people need us. We also volunteered time and funds to other projects under our MyProjects initiative and by offering our skills and services to good causes in the form of pro bono work.

Fighting climate change

As well as seeking to make a positive difference to societies, we’re also well aware of the role we have to play in helping fight climate change. Alongside global PwC initiatives and activities, we’ve taken a number of key, more local actions too. We’re immensely proud that already by the end of 2022, we’d already achieved our aim of transitioning to 100% renewable electricity. We’ve also brought forward the timeline for the full electrification of our fleet to 2028. Today, and going forward, our people only have the option to order electric vehicles. We also strongly encourage them to use other forms of transport where possible.

Promoting alternative transport

Indeed, our PwC Campus in Brussels was specifically located close to public transport amenities to enable this. FY23, saw a notable decrease in business travel, the second biggest source of our CO2 emissions and we’ve been able to carbon offset 100% of our travel emissions from both private and professional use. We ask our people to think about the necessity of all trips and whether the advanced technologies we have in place can’t be leveraged instead with the same effective outcome.

Leveraging artificial intelligence 

Our relentless efforts to reimagine the possible and stimulate innovation again took a leap forward this year as we moved into the field of artificial intelligence (AI), among others, both in terms of services and solutions for clients, as well as in house. Our most recent Annual CEO Survey found that CEOs around the globe overwhelmingly see generative AI as a catalyst for change. It also reported that already almost one out of three Belgian CEOs has already implemented generative AI in their firm as they believe the technology will push businesses to reinvent themselves. While having a positive impact on the world of work, we’re also well aware of the challenges and impact the push of AI will have on workforces and are working with clients to help them understand that and, importantly, make sure they consider it in all their AI initiatives. And we’re working with companies - as well as our own - to be certain that they take into account the large number of ethical and legal considerations that AI brings, helping them find the right balance.

Nurturing Belgian talent

Our investment in and focus on innovation was epitomised in 2023 with the launch of our partnership with the Innoptus Solar Team, a team of Belgian engineering students from KU Leuven who are competing to build the most innovative and efficient solar car. The team’s car - Punch 2 - was completely wrapped in PwC branding as it crossed the finish line first at the World Solar Championship in Adelaide in October 2023, having driven a journey of 3,021 kilometres across the Australian outback entirely using solar power. We were delighted to welcome the car to our PwC Campus in Brussels during our Summer Party, showcasing to our people that we truly care about innovation, our impact on the environment and nurturing Belgian talent for the future.

If you can dream it, you can do it

Walt Disney

Looking to the future

Looking to the future, I’m optimistic. As Walt Disney once said “If you can dream it, you can do it”. That’s where innovating and reimagining the possible come in, two key behaviours within our firm. Because, of one thing I’m sure, things won’t get better if we continue to apply the same remedies or same solutions. As another great thinker, Albert Einstein, famously said, “Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

We need to remember that as much as businesses as we do as individuals. We need to work to break cycles from repeating themselves. As we’ve seen in the past, polarisation is growing with extremes gaining ground and attracting larger and larger audiences as people buy into their ideas. But, polarisation isn’t the answer. Rather, people need to come together, to work together to find solutions, new solutions, innovative solutions. If we want to achieve a fair and inclusive society, with a stable economy, we need togetherness. We need ambition, drive and belief. We should focus on what unites us and use that. We should embrace change and look for opportunities rather than dwelling on issues.  I believe that’s as true for our country as it is for our firm.

Delivering holistic services

And it’s something we’re actively working on. Already, we’ve made great strides in helping our people to work more together in terms of combining their skills and experience. While we remain organised in terms of lines of service, that’s increasingly becoming more of an administrative construction than the way we serve clients. Over the past years, we’ve found that we achieve much more and our clients are much better served when we work with them in integrated ways from the beginning. That’s something you’ll see a lot more of going forward. We’re already created and introduced service offerings that embody that, people related services and Deals M&A, to name but two. Others will come to the fore to help companies answer the pressing issues they face; AI and digital transformation, sustainability and climate change, regulatory developments, resource challenges and more. 

As I said, I’m optimistic about the future and I’m also excited to see the impact we can have and the role our firm can play in creating a better, merit-based, tolerant and inclusive society.

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Contact us

Axel Smits

Axel Smits

Chairman & Territory Senior Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 490 65 88 94

Connect with PwC Belgium