The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) has issued a few resources in the last year to outline the role of auditors in providing ESG assurance, and leaders from the Big 4 accounting firms also have had their eye on standard-setting and XBRL tagging initiatives for ESG disclosures. Now PwC is putting big numbers behind it. They announced plans to invest $12 billion over the next five years in recruiting, training, technology and acquisitions to capture growth in the global environmental, social and governance services market. PwC estimates they will increase headcount by a net 100,000 through the investments.
Other audit firms are chasing the market as well, but I haven’t seen any of them announce plans this significant.
Which brings me to the topic of ESG qualifications for advisors and auditors. I plan to cover this is in detail soon, but just like anything else, you should do your due diligence before engaging any ESG advisor/auditor. The growth in people calling themselves ESG experts has not just exploded – it has gone supernova. There is even a LinkedIn cartoon meme about this. It is also worth noting that many small niche firms offer superior ESG expertise and have been deep in the game for a long time.