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AccountancyManager by Bright - practice software acquisition, March 2022

Bright Software Group acquires AccountancyManager


Irish software house Bright has acquired AccountancyManager to accelerate its ambitions to challenge the likes of Sage, IRIS and Xero in the UK and Ireland.

29th Mar 2022
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Bright Group was formed six months ago following the merger of payroll software developer BrightPay with Relate Software. The deal created Ireland’s most popular provider of post-accounting, practice management and bookkeeping software. Adding AccountancyManager brings a cloud practice management offering to the group’s growing portfolio.

James Byrne, co-founder of AccountancyManager, called the move to sell a 'tough decision' but one which presented opportunities for the company's customers and team. Byrne will continue as a shareholder in the combined group and remain as an adviser to the Bright board, while AccountancyManager’s recently recruited chief executive Kevin McCallum becomes chief operating officer of the new, combined group. While Bright's head office will remain in Ireland, McCallum will continue to run AccountancyManager from the firm’s base in Warwick, working closely with Bright CEO Paul Byrne.

‘Faster and better’ product evolution

According to McCallum, the merger hadn’t been part of the AccountancyManager roadmap, particularly as he had only taken on the CEO role in November. “We had all our models mapped out for the next four or five years,” he told AccountingWEB. “But we dug into the Bright offer and spent time with their team and, put simply, bringing together two of the most highly-rated accounting software tools in the UK just made sense.”

Both AccountancyManager and BrightPay took home the top prizes in their respective categories at the recent AccountingWEB software awards.

Bright CEO Paul Byrne (no relation to James) told AccountingWEB that the group's focus on providing the best product, support and value for customers meant that the AccountancyManager acquisition ticked a lot of boxes from a strategic point of view. "AccountancyManager has more than 2,000 firms on their books and is expanding into Ireland, while we serve more than 7,000 firms in the UK," said Byrne. "There's a great opportunity for us all to grow together."

For McCallum, the move will speed up the pace at which the practice management tool will be able to grow. “AccountancyManager is a great product that’s grown and evolved through listening to customers over the past five years,” he said.

“The backing and investment of Bright will mean the pace at which we can bring functions to the practice management component will be significantly enhanced - we’ll be able to do it faster and better.”

Further developments to AccountancyManager’s product set will focus heavily on workflow and automation, according to McCallum, with plans to integrate payroll, company secretarial and other offerings into the mix at a later date.

“Workflow and process automation will be increasingly important,” said McCallum. “Both AccountancyManager and BrightPay serve the sole practitioner and small practice community, and the MTD ITSA stream will bring a lot of businesses and individuals looking for assistance. To make this profitable you need automation and workflow - and we have a role to play in supporting accountants and bookkeepers, helping them manage and understand how practices are performing on a more detailed basis in terms of time and fees.”

An end-to-end cloud practice suite?

The move marks another step in Bright’s journey towards delivering an end-to-end cloud practice suite with compliance tools for the UK and Ireland market. The group now has the Relate stable of UK GAAP-compliant accounts production tools, its cloud accounting app Surf Accounts and BrightPay’s popular desktop and Connect products - with the latter’s cloud payroll software rumoured to be coming sometime this summer.

While Bright CEO Paul Byrne confirmed that the 'one-stop shop' for accounting firms was the group's ultimate intention, with Surf Accounts also being prepared to cross the Irish sea into the UK market this year, the end-to-end suite was a "big, big project" and did not commit to a specific timeline.

With the backing of majority investor Hg Capital, the Bright group has stepped up its acquisitions in the accounting software market. However, the strategy has left some observers wondering if the acquisition-driven “code-bloat” that has affected other major players in the accounting software industry could stunt innovation and lead to consumer confusion.

McCallum was quick to dismiss such charges: “We’ve got a focused portfolio and a clear plan about where it’s going,” he said. “Our acquisitions are targeted and strategic. We’re quite different animals and don’t have evolutionary dead-ends to compete with.”

Replies (1)

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By indomitable
31st Mar 2022 11:55

Same old flannel
Accountancy manager have 'sold out' and the shareholders have made money. That's it. All this strategic move nonsense and that it presents opportunities to its customers is complete 'hogwash'.

All about the money! Accountancy manager are not a natural fit for Bright here in the UK as their only offering is Brightpay. They will not get much traction here with accounting software and tax production software as the market is already saturated with good products. They would have been better hooking up with someone like Xero that have a substandard practice management module in my view (workflow Max)

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