Trust and Transparency Solutions: building trust in outsourced services

Ralf Hofstetter Partner, Sustainability Assurance, PwC Switzerland 04 Jan 2021

Anyone doing business of any magnitude has to rely on other people – which means trusting someone else to deliver what they say they will. The more complex the work delegated and the more money and reputation at stake, the stronger this trust has to be. Attestations from an independent party help build trust in outsourced services by creating transparency.

There’s hardly a company or industry that doesn’t outsource at least some of its operations – whether to cut costs or simply because there are certain things somebody else can do better. By its very nature, this exercise means trusting someone to deliver what they promise. And what’s more, it involves trusting them to do something that is so complex or far removed from your core business that you may not fully understand or be able to verify it for yourself. 

The challenge becomes even greater as the technologies and processes involved become more complicated and untransparent. Who really understands artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart contracts in all their intricacy? And yet whole industries look set to bet their future on tech like this. What about sophisticated supply chains – work done by other parties that a business and its stakeholders have to be able to trust implicitly? An important step in building this trust is creating transparency: transparency on what is being claimed, and transparency on what is actually being done. And there’s no better way of creating transparency than with attestations from a trusted independent party.

Do you need (re)assurance?

There are clearly many different areas where independent attestations make sense as a step in the trust-building process.

Emerging tech and software are a case in point: is your blockchain, smart contract or crypto custody solution functioning in line with specifications, and is enough being done to assure the availability, confidentiality, integrity and privacy of your data? What about artificial intelligence (AI)? Are you sure that the AI solution you’ve bought into is doing only what is actually intended? Otherwise you could be in for nasty and expensive surprises. The same applies to software in areas such as finance: a software certificate from a trusted independent party gives buyers the assurance that generally accepted accounting principles are sufficiently addressed.

Electronic archiving is another hot spot, especially with the pandemic making physical access to records difficult. Does your chosen solution meet the relevant legal and compliance requirements? In terms of compliance management in general, attestation can reassure you and your stakeholders that you’re able to manage the relevant risks, for example in relation to third parties or ethics.


Attestations are good for everyone involved: for the company selling the service, for the companies buying it, and for customers and other stakeholders. But who can be trusted to provide reliable assurance?

In principle, any accounting firm can issue many of the attestations we’re talking about. In reality, however, larger providers of trust and transparency solutions will often have the breadth and depth of experience to do so more efficiently and reliably, simply because they’re familiar with the typical risks, know where to look for them, and know how they can be addressed with controls. Well-known brands also carry extra weight. They’ve often earned additional trust by investing in innovation, developing their people, and fostering an international network that can provide the relevant expertise, even in highly complex or specialised cases. As an added bonus, they’re frequently able to provide rewarding insights beyond the attestation itself.

If you’re serious about the business of building trust, why not contact us to discuss matters further?


Contact us

Ralf Hofstetter

Ralf Hofstetter

Partner, Sustainability Assurance, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 5625

Cristian  Manganiello

Cristian Manganiello

Partner for Risk and Compliance Management Services, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 56 68