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Toronto skyline: America beckons for Sage and IRIS

IRIS and Sage raise the stakes in North America


The moribund state of the UK economy hasn’t stopped British accounting software developers IRIS and Sage from targeting new markets in North America.

14th Mar 2023
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In the past few weeks, IRIS has continued its US shopping spree with the addition of human resources software house Apex HCM to its portfolio.

Founded in Roswell, Georgia in 2008, Apex HCM was an early mover into cloud-based payroll in the USA and has grown a network of 300 payroll bureaus and accounting firms that cater for more than 40,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Its product suite extends from payroll through to recruitment tracking and onboarding, time and attendance, workers’ compensation and extensive reporting and self-service portal facilities for managers and staff. 

When set alongside IRIS’s AccountantsWorld and myPay payroll acquisitions, Apex HCM increases the international group’s North American customer base to over 130,000 businesses, with 1m employees. Building out a comprehensive cloud payroll platform with Apex fits very neatly into IRIS’s strategy to use payroll as a path into larger US accounting firms, according to IRIS president and general manager Jim Dunham.

Futrli by Sage moves into Canada

The other UK software combine with designs on North America is Sage. Towards the end of 2022, Sage introduced its Sage for Accountants cloud proposition for practitioners to the Canadian market. 

“Bringing some of our latest UK acquisitions like GoProposal and Futrli to our Canadian customers allows us to build a more integrated offering in the region,” explained Sage Canada managing director Mark Hickman.

As a follow-up to the initial Sage for Accountants launch, the developer is now ready to roll out the Futrli by Sage reporting and forecasting app it acquired last year. Based around easily customised boards and tiles, Futrli can be deployed to report in a variety of ways on multiple data sets and configured to deliver three-way forecasts (P&L, balance sheet and cashflow). 

“Bringing Futrli to Canada will have significant industry impact for accountants in the region,” said Hickman. “Canada is 98.6% small and medium-size businesses and Sage has a very good footprint in these firms, northwards of 30%.”

The greater Toronto area in particular is growing very rapidly, as are Quebec and the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, he continued. 

“The number one problem we have in the economy is people. We have enormous issues filling jobs. When we talk to firms, the feedback we’re getting is that tools such as Futrli can give clients the data on cashflow and all the things they need to run the business.”

Futrli has become an important component within the Sage for Accountants cloud portfolio that is now being marketed in Canada in advance of a move south into the USA, according to Hickman.

“With Sage for Accountants, it’s an agnostic approach. Futrli has customers on other platforms, but we’re saying, ‘This is about you, not us.’ We’re not centring the general ledger and you get around it. It’s about your workflows and how you use all your cloud apps. Nobody’s done that before,” he said.

On behalf of Futrli, chief operating officer Helen Cockle emphasised how attractive the Canadian market was for the analytic and forecasting app: “It’s a really well-established marketplace with good cloud adoption. Canadian accountants have got that advisory mindset and an appetite to provide added-value services.

“Advisory services are about more than just delivering technology. With a decade of experience behind us, we’re going to deliver education programs and webinars of specific interest to the Canadian market. We’re also going to take lessons from our seasoned Canadian customers to build a community to share best practices.”

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