Blue Chip Outfits: Clumsy Cheaters?

March 1, 2022

I read that one of the big blue chip accounting / consulting firms revealed the jib of its ethical sails. The information appears in “PwC Fined Over Exam Cheating Involving 1,100 of Its Auditors.” [You will have to pay to read this interesting “real” news report.] I learned from the odd orange newspaper:

PwC Canada has been fined more than $900,000 by Canadian and US  accounting regulators over exam cheating involving 1,100 of its auditors. The watchdogs found that the Big Four firm failed to spot that staff were sharing answers in exams between 2016 and 2020 because of shortcomings in its internal standards and test supervision.

What does this suggest about the notion of “quality,” “oversight,” and “integrity” when these words are applied to a blue chip outfit like PwC? PwC says on its About Us page:

Our values define the expectations we have for working with each other and our clients. Although we come from different backgrounds and cultures across the firm, our values are what we have in common. They capture our shared aspirations and expectations, and guide how we make decisions and treat others—they’re what makes us, us.

Does this mean this is the logic used at PwC: We cheat and obviously are likely to perform just about any action because of “shortcomings” in standards? Is the logic, “Well, McKinsey did the opioid work, so we help 1,100 whiz kids ace an examination.” Is this the lesser of two possible inappropriate blue chip thought processes?

Keep in mind that when PwC “discovered” the cheating, the company “immediately opened an internal investigation.” So it is now 2022 and the question, “How long has PwC been cheating?” remains unanswered.

Stephen E Arnold, March 1, 2022

Stephen E Arnold,


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