From XU Magazine, 
Issue 29

Q&A What’s next for Accountancy Manager?

XU: We were excited to hear the news of AccountancyManager’s leadership team expanding! The appointment of Kevin McCallum as the new CEO is especially exciting and we’re sure our readers would love to learn more about him.

JB: It is an exciting time as this appointment demonstrates our commitment to developing the business and our ambition to continue growing.

XU: Tell us a little about your background - where were you before AM?

KM: I spent the last 11 years at FreeAgent, in the role of Chief Commercial Officer. In that time I was responsible for a number of different aspects of the business including setting up and managing the team supporting accountants using the FreeAgent platform, as well as the relationship with NatWest both sides of their acquisition of FreeAgent in 2018. I first moved into the technology space in 2001 when I joined Pegasus Software having worked in business banking with Bank of Scotland for a few years. 

XU: What experiences do you think will help in your new position as CEO?

KM: I’ve spent the last 20 years working within the accounting software industry, and over that time, I’ve seen the industry develop at such a pace that it’s almost unrecognisable to 2001. The advent of cloud, mobile and overall drive towards digitisation have all had a tremendous impact on the way accountants work and the services they deliver to their clients, and it’s clear there’s more change yet to come. . Technology is the future, and with my experience to date, I think I can help AccountancyManager continue to do what they have been doing but with just a few tweaks, do it in a more effective way.

XU: Why did you choose to join AccountancyManager? What drew you to them as a company?

KM: The passion from the team and the enthusiasm from our users. From the outside, you look at AM and you think it sounds like a good idea. It sounds like software that people might benefit from using. But when you’re in the business and you talk to the team, their passion for the product comes through so strongly. The team are inspired by the users and hear the impact the system has on their practices and their own daily lives. For the users, AM is more than an online tool they log into every day, it’s a tool that is integral to their business, a tool that enables them to work more efficiently and to be more productive but possibly most importantly, it’s a tool that gives them back time.

XU: Is there anything you’re particularly excited for in the new position?

KM: Fulfilling the potential that AM has. The company has done a fantastic job in developing the software and building a large loyal user base in the last 4 years, but there’s still so much more we could do. 

XU: Are there any changes or new things you would like to bring to AM?

KM: Wherever there’s news of this nature, the first thought is often to what changes are coming. The first thing to say is that I’m not looking to make any big changes to the company. My objective is and will always be to improve the company and to continue the great work that’s been done up until. Me coming on board also demonstrates that we’re continuing to invest in our team and the future of AM. 

XU: You’ve also recently welcomed Katherine Tenner to the team as Chief Financial Officer. What will Katherine bring to the team?

KM: I’d say that Kath’s appointment also demonstrates the commitment to the future development of the business. As we continue to grow and make further investment back into the company Kath’s experience means that we can continue to grow the business in a structured and managed manner. 

XU: Before Katherine, AM didn’t have a CFO. In what way will this new position affect AM?

JB: I was an accountant before running a software business so CFO was one of my many roles and responsibilities.

KM: It’s completely normal for entrepreneurs to take responsibility for multiple different aspects of the business when starting up, but over time and as the business has grown, James has been able to relinquish some areas of responsibility by bringing in experienced people in these areas. This started with the first member of staff, was something that was done at the management level and now has progressed to bringing on new a new CEO and CFO.

XU: Co-founder James Byrne will now be the Chair of AM. Why did you decide to make this change?

JB: As I’ve built the team, I’ve always looked to hire the best, most qualified people in their specialism. Sales, Marketing, Support, Developers. We don’t aim for the ones asking for the least money, live the closest or are jacks-of-all-trades. This approach should be taken across the business at every level - including CEO.

Having launched AccountancyManager in 2017 and grown the business to the stage it’s at now, I recognise that there are more experienced people than myself out there. It’s an approach that a number of companies a lot of people have heard of have taken with great success (for example, Ben Francies with GymShark) and I owe it to the business, our staff and our users to always do what’s right for the business. 

XU: What will the new position entail?

JB: I’ll be stepping away from the day-to-day running of the business but I’m not stepping away from AccountancyManager. My focus will be on business strategy and driving the business forward in the direction I believe is right for our users.

XU: Will you be taking on any new projects alongside AM?

JB: AccountancyManager is my priority and will continue to be so however, I am involved in several other businesses, such as Accounts & Returns - the accountancy practice that I ran before setting up AM. Nexok - a direct marketing company and Revive Cafe and Bar - a new business I set up in Warwick.

XU: Another change to the AM team is James Reilly, who will become the Product Lead. What were you doing before this role at AM?

JR: I was previously a business analyst for AM overseeing the delivery of projects and responsible for scoping the requirements.

XU: Before you joined AM, what were you doing?

JR: Business Analyst at Warwick University.

XU: What led you to join the team originally?

JR: I was looking for a new challenge in a company where I felt I could make an impact. I was delighted to have the opportunity and given the recent change in role and additional responsibilities I now have, I feel the decision to join was a positive one for myself and the business.

XU: The new role will inevitably lead to new responsibilities - what new things will you be taking on?

JR: I’m now taking on more responsibility for planning projects and coordinating workload across the development team. Working closely with our VP of development, we manage the team and improvements to the software.

XU: Is there anything in particular you’d really like to see happen at AM?

JR: I’m currently working on an in-depth product strategy that will enable us to develop the software further and continue to meet our users’ needs. 

XU: What has been your best experience at AM so far?

JR: Seeing and hearing the feedback from users when new features go live. The users have such enthusiasm for the product and it’s rewarding to see the new functionality we provide have a positive impact on their working lives.

XU: With the expansion of the team, we can only assume things are going well at AM. How have the past few years been?

JB: From what started as a good idea in the back office of my father’s accountancy practice to running a team of 36 with over 5,000 users, it’s been quite the ride. The lessons we’ve learnt and the experiences we’ve been through have all contributed to making the business what it is today.
It goes without saying that AccountancyManager has been the greatest achievement of my professional life and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve all achieved together so far.

XU: What kind of impact have you all found the pandemic has had on AM?

JB: When the pandemic started we had to rethink our development strategy for the year. We asked our users what they wanted and needed to keep their businesses running. The result was a record number of new releases, albeit smaller features than we thought we’d be working on but vitally important to our users.

We also increased contact with users, they were working harder than ever and we wanted to support them in any way we could. So looking back on that period and the impact, thankfully, we’ve come out with stronger relationships with users.

As an industry, I think the pandemic has made tech adoption more widespread. As a result, more accountants than ever are looking for solutions to enable them to work more efficiently, which only benefits their business and, ultimately, their clients.

XU: Have you had to make any big changes to the way your teams work over the past year or two?

JB: We’ve enabled remote working more, which has allowed us to expand our recruitment pool.

XU: How will these new team members benefit AM?

KM: Bringing new people into the organisation allows us to improve our offering in terms of functionality and support continually. 

XU: Do you have any exciting features or plans coming up?

JR: We’re working hard on improving our workflow offering and reporting aspect of AccountancyManager. We recently sent out our annual user satisfaction survey and where we ask users what developments they want to see this was suggested. As we have aways done, we’ve taken this feedback on board and put it on the roadmap and the team is currently working on it.

XU: Where do you see the future of AM leading?

JB: We just want to continue doing what we’re doing, but just do more of it! As the company continues to expand and take on new users and staff, we’re able to increase the number of new releases, we’re able to support more users and more users enable us to invest more back into the business. 

Why leave it there?

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