Bright appoints Stephen Murdoch as new CEOby
Accounting software house Bright Group has announced the appointment of former Micro Focus CEO Stephen Murdoch as its new chief executive as the group doubles down on its ambitions to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for accounting firms.
Murdoch arrives at the developer after a decade as CEO of UK software and consultancy firm Micro Focus, and previously held senior executive positions at both Dell and IBM. Speaking exclusively to AccountingWEB, Murdoch said he was excited by the challenge and opportunity the role presents.
“In accounting software for the UK and Ireland, there are a few big players and the rest is very fragmented,” said Murdoch. There seems to be a genuine hunger among accountants for software that is integrated, easy to use and easy to deploy.
“My job is to work out how we scale fast to capture market while maintaining our value proposition, the thing we’re renowned for, good customer service,” he continued. “If you look at how high Bright’s NPS [customer satisfaction] scores are, that encapsulates a huge amount about the company. We now need to scale without breaking this bond.
“We have great products and a great team, so we have a lot of the pieces of the puzzle already. We now have to accelerate our growth without diluting customer services and support.”
Bright founder and former CEO Paul Byrne added that Murdoch brings “enormous experience” in growing companies to scale, matching the path Bright has been on.
“Stephen brings a fresh approach and an analytical mind,” said Byrne. “He has a proven track record in transitional change which is essential for us. Our main focus is developing the ‘OneBright’ proposition, to become a one-stop-shop for accounting firms and meeting their diverse needs.”
Evolution of the company
In a statement, Bright said Murdoch will join with immediate effect “following a transition period over the last several weeks, supported by and working closely with Kevin McCallum who has decided to leave the business.”
McCallum took over as CEO in August 2022 following the decision of Bright founder and former CEO, Paul Byrne, to move away from day-to-day operations.
In a pre-prepared statement Bright chair Karen Slatford added: “I want to offer my personal thanks to Kevin [McCallum], whose leadership has been invaluable to the business, particularly in bringing the organisation together under our ‘OneBright’ initiative.
“This has been a significant step in the evolution of the company and Kevin has helped set the organisation up well for continued future growth,” continued Slatford. “We welcome Stephen who has the relevant experience to help drive us forward.”
Acquisition and expansion
After receiving funding from private equity house Hg Capital in 2021, Bright Group has embarked on one of the most ambitious and challenging programmes of acquisition and integration the UK market has seen in recent years.
The group has assembled a range of accounting software products, bringing together popular payroll software BrightPay, practice management system AccountancyManager, tax tool BTCSoftware, Irish compliance engine Relate and bookkeeping platform Surf.
Over the past 12 months, the group has set about uniting this diverse stable of tools onto a common cloud platform under the ‘OneBright’ banner and integrating them as part of a coherent offering for accountants.
The group has also developed several new tools to add to its existing roster of products, including proposal and company secretarial software.