A new partner is welcomed to the fold, a stalwart of Cayman’s financial services industry steps back to enjoy retired life and a new senior partner takes the helm. Although there is much change at the top, senior management say it will be business as usual at PwC.
Back in the 1980s two separate accounting firms, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, were gaining traction in the Cayman Islands, destined to merge almost two decades later. In 1989, the year retiring Senior Partner Nick Freeland joined Price Waterhouse in the Cayman Islands, the firm had a modest complement of just two partners and 20 or so staff members.
“Without a doubt the single most significant move for the firm was the merger with Coopers & Lybrand in 1998,” Freeland recalls. “We doubled in size overnight, yet the process was easy because our complementing practices created a highly successful merger.”
At the time, Price Waterhouse’s focus was predominantly on hedge funds while Coopers & Lybrand concentrated more on its advisory and corporate services practices.
Freeland has steered the firm to its current success – with around 150 staff and 10 partners at its location as the original anchor tenant at Strathvale House.
Frazer Lindsay, PwC’s new senior partner, arrived at the firm via Coopers & Lybrand, which he joined in Cayman in 1992. Lindsay also worked through the vital merger in 1998, becoming a partner two years later in 2000.
Lindsay says the firm has weathered the economic recession of recent years well, and even grown at a steady rate during this time.
“Our success is largely due to the quality of our clients, who have all fared well throughout these difficult economic times,” he confirms.
Never-the-less, although recent growth has in part been due to an increase in business, he also attributes increases in staff numbers to increased regulatory pressure on firms such as theirs, causing them to hire more staff to cope with constantly increasing regulatory and compliance burdens.
Lindsay says the firm has not been adversely affected by the recession because their growth has always been carefully managed.
“We strive for sustainable growth. We didn’t grow for growth’s sake,” he says.
Business in the main comes from referrals from their international counterparts at PwC and the strong relationship the Cayman Islands firm has with PwC worldwide, as well as its strong local presence, and these have been significant factors for their success as a whole, they say.
Peter Small is PwC’s newest partner, officially taking up the new position on 1 July. A Caymanian, Small has played an integral part in strengthening these international relationships by undertaking a three and half year stint at PwC in Boston.
Small started at PwC in 1997, an ambitious and hardworking accountant originally working with the Cayman Islands government in its internal audit department. After joining PwC Cayman, Peter was sent on a tour of duty to Boston, with the US firm, affording him a new appreciation of the industry.
“It was a fascinating experience working alongside some of the most brilliant minds in the industry,” he says. “I gained a tremendous amount out of my time in Boston both professionally and personally, inside and outside the office.”
Small says the relationships he developed while overseas have been strongly maintained, a key factor, he believes, in his achieving partner status.
Lindsay agrees. “Individuals have to undergo a rigorous selection process with the Cayman firm having to comply with the PwC promotion guidelines,” he explains. “Peter proved himself to be so capable during his time in Boston that he was promoted to the position of manager, an achievement in itself where the competition overseas for promotion is incredibly strong. This no doubt was an influencing factor in the global firm approving his promotion to partner.”
Since his return to Cayman, Small admits that his workload has increased significantly as he says he strives to prove himself.
“I anticipate that it will just keep increasing now that I’m a partner,” he states.
Lindsay says: “Peter’s promotion serves to strengthen the firm even further as we look ahead to more of the same steady and sustained growth.”
He says that a new qualified accountant might expect to become a partner candidate within 10 to 12 years, but the career path is in no way a given.
He states: “PwC conducts regular performance appraisals throughout the year and it is during these times that an individual will get to appreciate if they are partner material or not. Our partnership is extremely tightly knit and Peter fits into this close working partnership extremely well.” Small says he is looking forward to the challenges the role will present.
“I’m sincerely grateful for the opportunity and grateful to the partners for their trust and faith in me,” he states.