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What’s the Commercial Value of Business Purpose?

The Business Purpose Project | Phil Preston | May 18, 2023

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If you've ever wondered "what's the commercial value of business purpose clarity?" then the PwC Australia case study playing out right now is one for the ages.

  • [PwC Australia] is accused - as advisers to government under non-disclosure agreements - of using confidential information for commercial gain, tipping off their clients of looming tax changes and helping them develop work arounds (refer PwC's statement or ABC's video summary).
    • Whether it can survive and recover is anyone's guess, with criminal charges not out of the question. And it's not a case of a rogue consultant, this went far and wide within the firm.
  • What is PwC's purpose statement I hear you ask?

    "Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems"


FFCON23 Video:  Advancing Fintech's Purpose by Phil Preston

  • Companies need to do more: Phil Preston, an expert in corporate purpose statements, urges that these statements are often eloquent and inspiring, but represent mere intentions rather than a commitment to action. Despite the importance of purpose statements, many companies struggle to actualize them. Executives and directors are grappling with the challenge of implementing corporate purpose, which goes beyond creating a compelling statement.
    • It starts with effective governance, establishing metrics to measure delivery on purpose, and assigning accountability.
    • Misalignment between remuneration and the firm's purpose, as evidenced by PwC Australia, can lead to adverse consequences.
    • Implementing corporate purpose requires integrating societal benefits into the organization's DNA, rather than treating them as yearly objectives.
    • Once governance is mastered, which few firms have done successfully, goals and metrics should influence strategy, operations, and people. It's less about revolutionizing business practices and more about adopting a purposeful perspective on existing processes.
    • Despite the effort, the payoff is worthwhile. Neglecting this may lead to existential crises, like PwC Australia's case, where partners prioritized personal gain over client interests. Their situation underscores the value of trust in business.

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