Impressed with our advanced audit technologies and pragmatic approach, Ageas chooses PwC as its new auditor
One of the key requirements of EU audit legislation is that public interest entities (PIEs) in the EU change their statutory audit firm after a certain period of time. With that in mind, having worked with the same external auditor for nine years, and seeing a change as simply good governance, Ageas, a Belgian multinational insurance company, launched a tender process to the market. The scope of the request covered the Ageas Group with its main entities in Belgium, Portugal and the UK.
"A change of auditors from time to time is an opportunity for a fresh pair of eyes, it helps keep all parties "sharp". It was also a good moment for Ageas to reflect on and make an evaluation of our audit processes,” explains Bart De Smet, CEO, Ageas.
After a tight process, Ageas opted to assign PwC its audit mandate, with first sign off at the end of June 2018.
Following a careful and transparent tender process, during which required criteria were shared with all candidates, Ageas selected PwC as we met the criteria best. "The combination of a very pragmatic approach to audit, the people we met and the proposed technology led us to choose PwC. The PwC team also showed a lot of professionalism in their presentations and planning," says Bart De Smet.
During the proposal process, PwC’s lead audit Partner visited Ageas entities in the three countries in scope, building relationships to foster good interaction and underscoring the importance we put on clients, a move that was greatly appreciated by the client.
According to Ageas, PwC was particularly advanced in technology. We not only highlighted available tools, but showed how Ageas could implement them and the potential benefits they could bring to the whole audit process, especially in terms of affording greater efficiency and enabling time savings.
Explains Bart De Smet, "Our industry has become so complex and there’s a lot of number crunching. Too often topics of real importance only surface toward the end of the closing of a quarter. We’re hoping to be able to call on artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to allow topics to be raised earlier in the process, enabling us to concentrate on big concerns, and leave minor issues to be dealt with on a more local level."
"We believe that PwC will think proactively with us, not just looking to the past, but to the future, advising us on future approaches and possible developments in the accounting and audit world."
The Ageas/PwC relationship isn’t new. PwC was the auditor for Fortis, Ageas’ forerunner, until 2008. Bart De Smet was pleased that many of the same people from that era would be involved in the new assignment.
During the meantime, the relationship has remained strong, with PwC having delivered good consultancy advice in several of Ageas’ operating entities. Based on this, Ageas is confident of a fruitful collaboration going forward.
As an international insurance company, active in 15 countries, opting for an auditor with a global outlook and reach was essential for Ageas.
Looking specifically at international regulations with which Ageas must comply, such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Bart De Smet says, "As an international company, it's very important that Ageas is compliant with accounting standards and regulations in all regions in which we operate."
And he adds, "working with a player that has access to a huge database of experience not just in accounting, but also business development is of paramount importance."
And for Ageas, having core base competencies is just a beginning. Again, considering reporting requirements, Bart De Smet says, "we’re looking for someone who says more than just what we can and can’t do. We expect our auditor to look beyond that, look at the possibilities and bring solutions, always in line with what’s admissible, of course."
For that Ageas considers PwC’s broad experience beyond just the financial services sector a real plus.
Going forward, Ageas is looking to continue its growth story that it’s been investing in for the past years.
And while Ageas believes it has strong internal competences to achieve its ambitious strategic goals, it expects PwC's auditors to share opinions and maybe even challenge choices, enabling PwC to add real value to the audit process.