US accounting giant CLA buys British AI start-up

US accounting giant CLA buys British AI start-up

May 21, 2024

CLA, one of the top 10 accounting firms in the US, has acquired UK tech start-up Engine B, an AI-specialist focusing on services for accountants and tax advisers

This strategic move – CLA’s (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP) first global acquisition – underscores the accountancy firm’s commitment to using cutting-edge technology to enhance client service and enable staff to focus more on client engagement, pursuing new business opportunities, and delivering value-added services.

CLA will integrate the AI capability into its tech services and founders Shamus Rae and Donne Burrows, and the entire Engine B team will join CLA and will be integrated into the firm’s management and technology team.

A relatively new start-up, Engine B was set up in 2019 and specialises in delivering generative AI solutions for accountants, auditors and tax professionals, providing deeper insights and advanced data manipulation and analysis, using generative AI and large language models (LLMs).

The acquisition of Engine B was finalised on 1 May and is part of a $500 million (£400m) investment in digital technology and AI by CLA. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Jen Leary, CEO of CLA said: ‘CLA is investing in the future of our people, of our clients and our profession. With the addition of Engine B, CLA is becoming a force for positively disrupting the profession, creating a path for our professionals to spend more time directly with clients, leaning into our promise to know and help them.

‘Engine B’s generative AI-powered technology aligns closely with our vision of leveraging digital solutions to drive operational excellence and deliver greater value to our clients.’

Shamus Rae, founding partner of Engine B, added: ‘This connection is the right step for Engine B and for CLA.

‘Our technology will seamlessly integrate into CLA’s existing systems and give us all a head-start in ingesting client information and extracting clear data sets to provide strategic client initiatives.

‘For both firms, this is a strategic step toward growing revenue while further investing in our professionals.’

ICAEW was an early investor in the company and as part of the deal, the institute has sold its existing stake in Engine B to CLA.

Commenting on the divestment, Alan Vallance, ICAEW chief executive, said: ‘ICAEW has decided that this is the right time for us to divest our stake in Engine B. It is a fitting reward for the hard work of the management team, which in a short period has turned a technology start-up into a successful business.

‘ICAEW identified the potential of Engine B at an early stage, and we invested in the company to give it the time and space to develop a platform which could accelerate the adoption of data integration and artificial intelligence across the accountancy profession. Engine B’s customers now include accountancy firms of all sizes, and with the backing of CLA, we are confident it has a great future.’