Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A Grant Thornton), the Philippine member firm of Grant Thornton International, is changing with the times and expanding business strategies that work such as outsourcing and digitalization to remain one of the country’s top auditing companies.

P&A Grant Thornton chairperson and CEO Maria Victoria C. Españo said they will ensure the company will continue to dominate the auditing industry by investing more on technology, people skills and enhancing global ties. 

One of the business strategy they want expanded is the outsourcing side wherein “businesses hand over services such as bookkeeping and payroll to focus on their core activities,” it said. This has been bringing more revenues for the company.

“Outsourcing used to be a small part of what we do, but it grew alongside our investments in technology,” said Españo. “We are expanding and devoting additional office space to it, and having discussions with companies in Australia and Ireland in our bid to win international clients in this service line.”

The auditing firm is also looking to improve its technology-driven plans but that “more than technology, P&A Grant Thornton’s biggest challenge is in aggressively pursuing its business strategy without ‘overheating’ its operations,” it said in a statement.

“The same people championing the strategy — the partners — would also be implementing it. How do you continually engage them and show them the need to move forward, and have them set the goals into motion?” according to Españo.

She said this challenge “reflects another shift in the industry: Where technical personnel are no longer confined to crunching numbers and drafting financial reports, but also adopting a business mindset, advising on business strategy and contributing to the company’s sustainable growth.”

“With digital automation, the emergence of AI and new paradigms, and the dynamics of increasingly global relationships reshaping talent, operations, and strategy in the auditing industry, there is no room for complacency, said Españo.

“Disruption is always unsettling, and we cannot afford to ignore it. The services we offer are most affected by its impact so we look at it as a growth opportunity rather than a necessary evil we all have to contend with,” she added.

For Benjamin Punongbayan, the founder of P&A, the advent of AI and machines is more a boon to the auditing profession than a bane.

“AI will just spin off other types of jobs for us and raise our level of competency, so it’s not a threat. Humans will always prevail because the human spirit is unbreakable,” said Punongbayan. “The future offers unlimited possibilities for P&A Grant Thornton.”

P&A was set up by Punongbayan and banker Jose G. Araullo in 1988 and by 2003, it became P&A Grant Thornton.

Españo joined P&A Grant Thornton in 1997 and a partner by 1999. She was elected in 2015 as a member of the Grant Thornton Board of Governors, which has oversight responsibilities on the strategic development of the network and its member firms and the implementation of the global strategy.

Currently, the company has 21 partners and over 900 employees across its nationwide network. While audit remains its biggest revenue draw, it has also expanded its portfolio to high-level advisory services.

P&A Grant Thornton now ranks among the top 20 firms in terms of size in all services in the Grant Thornton network. In Asia, P&A Grant Thornton is viewed as a leader in areas such as people development and advisory services, maintaining arrangements with member firms in countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.  


As published in Manila Bulletin, dated 27 January 2018