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SSA13: SME accounts and expenses winners

6th Nov 2013
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This year's Software Satisfaction Awards have been a close call across many categories, but we’ve now finalised the results.

We can announce that this years’ winner of both the small business accounts and the expenses categories is: FreeAgent Central.

The software rated highly across all categories, scoring nearly full marks from voters on its ease of use, functionality, support and value for money.

But it was a close call between the software provider and rival Kashflow in terms of results - however, FreeAgent came out on top.

Ed Molyneux, managing director and founder of FreeAgent, received the news today live over a web feed, and said that he felt competition was increasing.

“It’s getting harder, I feel everyone’s game is stepping up. We’ve seen Kashflow make some great progress, we’ve done a lot, and so has Xero and I think it’s good news for accounting software in general,” he said.

In terms of also scooping the expenses gong, Molyneux spoke about the software company’s first time in the expenses category. The widespread use of smartphones and the “appification” of expenses tools contributed to the accounting software firm’s SSA success, he said.

“We have a mobile optimised version of FreeAgent. The fact that it’s all built into and one part of FreeAgent is what people really like.”

The mobile v desktop userbase of FreeAgent’s mobile users are small but increasing quickly, and the company wants to be “one step ahead of the game”.

“Expectations are you should be able to do everything on your smartphone - you need to meet those expectations. It’s what people are wanting.”

This years’ small business accounts and expenses shortlists confirmed that accountants and their clients are embracing web-based applications in a big way.

Speaking about his software’s high satisfaction level results, Molyneux said that he believes FreeAgent is doing something different to Xero and Kashflow.

“We’re aiming for a different part of the market where, we look at microbusiness rather than traditional small business band of customers. I think they’re naturally a bit more delighted to have something rather than a spreadsheet or a carrier bag of receipts,” he said.

Just under half (47%) of the small business survey respondents were cloud users, while expenses management has moved entirely to the web.

The overall scores in the small business and expenses categories were:

Small business accounts: FreeAgent (90%)


  • Big Red Book (86%)
  • Kashflow (80%) 
  • Clear Books (77%) 
  • VT Transactions (77%)
  • Sage Instant (50%)
  • Sage 50 (37%)
  • QuickBooks (29%)
  • Xero (58%)

Expenses management: FreeAgent (90%)


  • WebExpenses (59%)
  • ReceiptBank (57%) 

When analysing the category, AccountingWEB editor John Stokdyk said: "The surprise is, that we're nearly at the halfway mark between how many people are using desktop applications and how many are using cloud." 

While cloud accounting systems from two dominant suppliers - Sage and QuickBooks - did not register enough ratings to make it into the shortlist this year, they may well feature next year as more users make the switch from desktop.

However there is now another major player at the cloud accounting table, after IRIS recently acquired last year's SSA small business accounts winner, KashFlow.

While smaller businesses appear to be leading accountants towards cloud applications, the shift is even more apparent in the expenses management category. 

"It's not just web software," Stokdyk said about the three mobile-friendly apps WebExpenses, FreeAgent and ReceiptBank. "What we're seeing now is the appification of expenses."

Replies (4)

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By Paul Scholes
07th Nov 2013 01:14

Can you explain %ages again

Hi Rachael - Given the published numbers of users of say FreeAgent, ClearBooks & Xero I can't understand how the %ages quoted represent market share?  Sorry sometimes even accountants need help with numbers

Thanks (0)
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
07th Nov 2013 08:59

It's not a strict measure of market share

The figures represent the number of ratings posted for those products within our survey. It is not a scientific measure of market share, but a representation of the people on AccountingWEB who can be bothered to take part.

To clear up confusion (I hope) I've added a little explanation about how the shortlist was compiled at the bottom

Thanks (2)
By Paul Scholes
07th Nov 2013 11:38

Ta John


Thanks (0)
Duane Jackson
By DuaneJAckson
07th Nov 2013 15:06

Congrats to Ed and the team at FAC. Well deserved,

Thanks (0)