AccountancyManager brings in FreeAgent exec teamby
After four years of intense growth, cloud practice management software startup AccountancyManager brought in two former FreeAgent executives to spearhead the next phase of its evolution.
Kevin McCallum moved across from FreeAgent this month to take over as chief executive officer at AccountancyManager (AM), accompanied by Katherine Tenner, who becomes AM’s first chief financial officer.
Importing two seasoned cloud industry executives is part of AccountancyManager founder James Byrne’s long-term ambition to play a more low-key role while allowing the newcomers to “take it to the next level”.
McCallum is no stranger to AM, having joined the board in March as a non-executive director. He spent the intervening months getting to know the business and its processes and working with Byrne on making the transition to the chairman’s role. The CEO opportunity evolved naturally out of those discussions.
“It’s been my plan from day one at AccountancyManager to grow to a point where we can bring in somebody. Every hire I’ve made has been to shift responsibility out of my hands to a team member or a new management team. The next obvious step was to look at the C-suite team and people who could take on that role,” said Byrne.
As chairman, he added, “I’ll still have a steer on the business and input to its overall strategy.”
McCallum recalls that he joined FreeAgent at a similar stage in its development. He and Tenner were part of the team that led the accounting software house through a public listing and expanded its user base to 70,000 before selling up to RBS (NatWest Group).
Those experiences were very attractive to Byrne and during the past year he and McCallum have been working out a clear path for where they want AccountancyManager to be in the next 4-5 years.
“James and Alex [Hawke, CTO] got to where they are without taking external investment. It’s still an independent business that can stand on own two feet. That’s unusual in this age,” said McCallum.
“This business doesn’t need to bring in external money to survive and is in control of its own destiny. That makes it very attractive to come in and get involved at a very serious level.”
While AccountancyManager’s founders made the early running in the cloud practice management software market by adapting to user requests and building out functionality very quickly, the new executive appointments signal a shift of emphasis towards marketing and infrastructure activities.
“We’ve got a roadmap of improvements want to make and technology choices about where we want to invest,” said McCallum. “The scalability of technology is a lot less challenging than it was 10 years ago, but we are thinking a step or two ahead on the capacity of the product infrastructure.
“There there are things like support, account management and customer education – all things I’ve been involved with in my career to help accountants use software effectively. If you do that well, they’re the ones who stay with you.”
With McCallum and Tenner focusing on markeing, operations and finance, Byrne is looking forward to a slightly quieter life as chairman and getting back to focusing on product developments. As AccountancyManager grew, development slowed down within the evolving business processes, he explained. But in his new role, he still plans to spend time “listening to the customer base” and ensuring the company respond to their suggestions in a matter of days.
“We’ve added 20 new features in the past nine months based on customer feedback and we’re getting 98-99% satisfaction scores,” Byrne said. “We’ve developed some client-facing assets that are landing very well and are looking at some interesting stuff around improving the workflows and allowing users to whitelabel the app.”
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AccountingWEB’s Editor at large has been with the site since 1999, rising from news editor to editor in chief, global editor and head of insight. As a roving editor, he continues to investigate the profession's use of technology around the world. He devotes his spare time to technology history and an oddball collection of stringed instruments...