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PwC’s US head Tim Ryan has told partners he will leave the Big Four firm next June, following resistance from some colleagues to his candidacy to succeed Bob Moritz as global chair.
Ryan, who has chaired the US firm for eight years, had been hotly tipped inside and outside PwC to replace Moritz, whose second four-year term is also due to expire next year.
But partners were told on Friday that the US boss would leave upon the expiry of his current term, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.
The end of his US leadership term was “a natural inflection point for me”, Ryan told PwC US partners in an email. “Having seen so many of the challenges our clients and our society face, I have a strong desire to explore leadership opportunities outside the firm and help in a different way.”
PwC has historically elevated the head of the US firm — by far the largest in its global network — to the global chairmanship and Ryan was expected to be among the final candidates after a longlist of six was drawn up, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Opponents of Ryan included senior partners outside the US and his exit signals a potential shift in the power dynamics of PwC’s global network of member firms.
His exit throws open the race to lead the global firm from next year.
US head of consulting Mohamed Kande and UK-based Carol Stubbings, who leads PwC’s tax and legal services division globally, were among the strongest candidates to have challenged Ryan to succeed Moritz, according some of the people.
Stubbings was one of the executives flown into Australia by global management earlier this year to help contain the international fallout from a tax scandal that has crippled PwC’s reputation in the country.
PwC International declined to comment on the appointment process for global chair, which it said was ongoing.
Ryan has been one of the most prominent faces of the accounting profession in the US for almost a decade and chairs the Center for Audit Quality, which represents the largest firms.
The US business he leads had $20.7bn in revenue in the financial year to June 2022, accounting for 40 per cent of PwC’s global total. Its revenues were $16bn in Ryan’s first year in charge.
He also led an internal reorganisation that split the US firm’s audit and advisory businesses, a move which sparked speculation across the industry that PwC could be preparing for a full break-up — a claim it has denied. Rival EY’s own plan to split in two collapsed earlier this year.