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Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of Sovos

Today we are meeting the CEO of compliance software leader, Kevin Akeroyd.

Over to you Kevin:


Who are you and what’s your background?

My road to becoming a CEO may not be the typical one: I was raised in an extremely underprivileged environment in rural Missouri. Thanks to some good fortune, and a lot of hard work, I was able to establish a great education and white-collar career. Focus, intentionality, more hard work, and some good strategic planning enabled me to become a three-time CEO and a SaaS technology veteran.

I first fell in love with data while working in the catalog and direct mail division of RR Donnelley & Sons, a large publicly traded company, where I spent nine years. The last part of that journey, I started the company’s software and online services business unit, providing my first experience running a global technology P&L inside of a larger company.

From there, I spent a decade in various executive leadership roles in Silicon Valley venture capital-backed companies, living through the dot com crash and gaining a valuable education in overcoming adversity, later having three successful exits, the last one to Salesforce.com, Running that business for Salesforce.com post-acquisition, and then running the large Oracle Marketing Cloud business at Oracle gave me experience running larger P&Ls in a business unit president capacity for large Fortune 500 technology companies.

My first CEO position was with Cision, the SaaS leader in earned and social media, influencer and content marketing, and media intelligence. Over my four-year tenure, we took the company public on the New York Stock Exchange and grew the company’s revenue from $200 to $800 billion. I then joined Magnit, the largest contingent workforce management SaaS and services player in this segment of the HCM market, growing revenue from the hundreds of millions to more than two billion.

What Oracle, Cision, and Magnit all have in common with what I do at Sovos today is that, in each case, the market was primed for a platform-based SaaS technology solution, and we succeeded in both defining the category and attaining market leadership. It has become my clear calling card and mission to identify a market need and taking a business from one that is selling disparate point solutions into one that delivers a complete, unified platform. I want to be the kind of transformative CEO who understands where a company and an industry is stagnating and finds and unlocks the potential to change it.

What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?

I’m the CEO at Sovos. As CEO, my role is not to just be the one with the big ideas, but to encourage and inspire big ideas from my teams. Then I need to channel those big ideas into strategy, and couple that strategy with world class execution to enable strong operations and financial performance.  It’s my job to set the tone and steer the ship for the whole organisation.

As leaders we always have the pressure to move at lightning speed and at the same time make sure we don’t leave our teams behind us.  I am always looking to learn ways I can be a better leader without sacrificing innovation or culture, so I strive to be both motivational and energising while clearly navigating our course towards a “north star.”  I’m very hands-on; I’m not just the architect, but also want to work closely with the builder, the general contractors, and the sub-contractor. I want world-class leaders around me, so I understand every functional area well to be able to hire the best, then I trust them to do their jobs. I invest in alignment and direction, and rely on accountability and operational rigour, rather than micromanagement.

While I’m a technology executive, being a leader is a ‘people’ job first and foremost. A key part of my job is to deal with our employees, customers and partners on a people level. My background and experiences have informed a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, so I do my best to create an organisation where everyone feels empowered to bring their true selves to work through good communication and full transparency. This is especially important today, with a primarily remote, dispersed global workforce, so I have established multiple in person and virtual regular communication vehicles to ensure this happens, and always both invite Q&A from all employees and ensure timely feedback to them.

Can you give us an overview of your business?

Sovos is the global, always-on compliance company. Through our platform solution, Sovos Compliance Cloud, we help businesses identify, determine, and report on every tax transaction and obligation globally so that compliance isn’t just a requirement but becomes a force for their growth.

Globally, there are more than 14,000 regulatory changes monthly across almost 19,000 different tax authorities. The complexities are immense, and the risks to companies that get it wrong are both high and costly. In their efforts to address compliance, many have made it worse by embracing a set of disconnected point solutions. CFOs and CIOs repeatedly tell me that they are facing an emerging crisis when it comes to compliance due to the disconnected technology, processes, and resource drains from this fragmented approach.

Sovos Compliance Cloud addresses this critical need. Just as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and human capital management (HCM) all shifted from disparate point solutions to holistic system of record platforms that unlocked tremendous business value, our platform does the same for compliance. It is a one stop solution; determining SUT and VAT globally, transacting accurately through e-invoicing and e-reporting, filing, and reporting in real-time, and providing a single source of truth to anlayse your obligations. Our integrations also empower seamless connections between a company’s existing enterprise business systems, such as an ERP, and government tax authorities. It is an always-on, centralized solution to future-proof a company’s compliance obligations and provide business intelligence that fuels growth.

Today, more than 100,000 customers in 100+ countries – including half the Fortune 500 – trust Sovos to keep them ahead of the compliance curve.

Tell us how you are funded?

Sovos is privately owned by Hg and TA Associates, two large and successful Private Equity firms.

What’s the origin story? Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?

My journey with Sovos began in 2023, but the company has a rich history.  From the original carve-out from ADP to 25 additional acquisitions and integrations and multiple private equity ownership changes, the company has always been the innovation engine in the industry.

The mission has been, and still is, to combine world class technology and data with deep domain expertise and advisory service from our hundreds of more than 100 regulatory counselers and tax experts who monitor more than 200 categories of regulatory change.

Today, we’re still that forward-thinking company, as the first to identify the need for an “always-on” compliance solution to meet both the governments’ move to always-on transactions, and companies’ needs for a modern, unified solution with a single source of truth.

Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?

Sovos solutions can be customised and scaled to meet the needs of companies of all sizes, from SMBs to multi-national enterprises. The pace of mandate changes, new tax rules and regulations is not expected to slow – Europe is a key example of that, with ViDA spurring numerous proposed VAT mandates. So, any business operating – or seeking to operate – across borders needs technology that allows them to orchestrate, manage, and analyze their tax obligations in real-time, and our growth reflects that. Today, we sell to the offices of the CFO and the CIO

In addition to our 100,000+ customers, Sovos also has a large and growing Partner Network. More than 400 partners – including KPMG, PwC, SAP, Intuit, Shopify, Coupa, and Accenture, partner with Sovos to refer, resell, embed, or build advisory/services practices around our products. We are embedded into more than 70 of the most widely used enterprise resource planning (ERP) and transaction management systems and integrate into any other applications you choose for your business.

Our annual revenue model is a SaaS recurring subscription model, providing ease, predictability, and reliability for our customers.

If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?

If I could change one thing it would be the mentality that compliance obligations are something companies can only react to, hidden away in a corner tax office. Instead, I would open their eyes to the potential of enacting a proactive, global compliance strategy, and see how they can use the data gleaned from tax compliance as a competitive advantage.

What is your message for the larger players in the Financial Services marketplace?

A transformative global movement is underway around e-invoicing and e-reporting, one that recognizes that when high levels of automation can be achieved among businesses, these supply chain messages become invaluable assets for governments and industries alike. While the U.S. aims to use e-invoicing mainly to advance digital payments, many nations are leveraging real-time, standardized transactions to fuel a data revolution with far-reaching societal advantages. With 80 countries already mandating e-invoicing – and more to come – companies need strong tech partners to navigate this transformation.

Where do you get your Financial Services/FinTech industry news from?

I subscribe to online versions of major newspapers in the U.S. and around the world and receive alerts for financial news, including updates on the finance and technology sectors. I am an avid reader in general, stay up to date on current affairs, and enjoying unwinding with science fiction and historical fiction. Forbes, Bloomberg, Seeking Alpha, and MarketWatch are a few of my daily staples.

Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech and/or Financial Services sector that we should be following on LinkedIn, and why?

I think less about the individuals, and more about the categories of innovation.  Some of the most exciting innovations out there are within AI, biometrics/security, and RegTech.

Anyone outside of tech that has inspired you?

My very first boss at RR Donnelley was Meredith Potter, who started as one of the company’s first few female sales representatives, then climbed the ranks into the executive suite. As my boss, she shaped me in so many ways: she modelled high values, great etiquette, and a strong moral compass. That first impression has remained a guiding star throughout my career.

What FinTech services (and/or apps) do you personally use?

I am fairly generic here. I use traditional payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, and PayPal.  I also use the standard mobile apps from banks, investment firms, credit card, insurance, and other financial services providers.

Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector? (An opportunity to get the readers thinking and to demonstrate your thought leadership credentials.)

  • The shift to government-driven real time data transparency, standardization, and continuous tax controls via compliance networks is going to be fascinating to watch unfold.   This is one of the biggest driving needs for compliance platforms like Sovos.
  • I think multiple AI use cases will continue to emerge and go mainstream.
  • The continued evolution of large point solution providers into full on fintech platforms is going to shift the industry profoundly.
  • And I do think the biometrics/security technology explosion is going to change the way we operate with financial systems in fascinating ways.

Thank you very much indeed Kevin Akeroyd.

If you’d like to learn more about Sovos, check them out on Linkedin (Sovos) or visit them at www.sovos.com.

Ewan
Ewan
Ewan is Founder and Editor of FinTech Profile and Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of mobile and FinTech industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.
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