Co-founder of Chattanooga's Market Street Partners helps lead next-gen accounting firm

Photography by Matt Hamilton / Kyle Bryant is co-founder of Market Street Partners.

Even in middle school in the 1990s, Kyle Bryant had a head for numbers. He was also intrigued by the then-booming stock market.

"I learned about stocks in the 7th or 8th grade (and) got fascinated with the idea that you could buy and sell equities," the CPA recalled in an interview. "I went to college thinking that I would major in finance."

But while taking classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, some of his professors convinced Bryant that accounting might be his gift, so he shifted his career plans away from finance and went to work after graduation for the Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough accounting firm here.

That set him on a career path that culminated in 2016 when he co-founded (with Kevin Rose) the Market Street Partners accounting firm. The firm has been named one of Chattanooga's best places to work by Edge magazine and was recently named one of America's top 500 fastest-growing CPA firms by Inside Public Accounting.

Early on, Market Street Partners (MSP) established itself as a firm that was out front on tax-law changes. When Trump-era laws went into effect, Bryant and crew helped educate clients on "opportunity zones" and "wealth tax exemptions." When COVID hit, the company pivoted to meet the crush of demand for Payday Protection Program applications.

"Personally, I helped file 80 applications," Bryant says.

MSP, which offers tax, accounting and consulting services to its clients, has entered a period of rapid growth. Revenues were up 67 percent in 2021, Bryant says, and were up again about 30 percent year-to-date in early October.

Before he and Rose started MSP, Bryant cut his teeth at the Lamp Post Group, where he worked with the former Access America Transport company prior to its merger with Chicago-based Coyoto Logistics in 2014. Before and after that deal was finalized, Bryant was involved with the diligence and accounting transfers associated with the transaction. It gave him a insider's look at deal-making that continues to be an interest today.

While tax and accounting services are the bread and butter of a CPA firm, Bryant additionally has his eyes on a bigger target, the great generational transfer of privately-held companies, especially in the Southeastern United States. Bryant says the expected $15-to-$30 trillion private company sales worldwide in coming years will need facilitators in the accounting world.

"You've got a lot of (business owners) in the boomer generation who are like, 'I don't want to do this any more. If somebody will buy this business from me, I will get out.'

"... I encourage my clients to think of things in three ways. One of these things is going to happen to your business: You are going to pass it down to the next generation. You are going to sell it. Or you are going to shut down."

Bryant says the winners in the sale and acquisition of privately-owned companies will be those owners who plan in advance and get their businesses in order in the run-up to an eventual sale. And he thinks MSP is well-positioned to help.

Meanwhile, Bryant says large-company acquisitions of some of Chattanooga's old-line accounting firms created an opening for a new player in the market. MSP bills itself as "not your grandfather's accounting firm."

Some of that plays out in the way the company hires and compensates employees. The company, which currently has 42 workers, has a track for those who want to be "role players" and another for those who want a more aggressive work life and higher compensation.

"We realize that generations are different," Bryant says. "People don't find their purpose as much in work as they used to. They want to have free time to pursue their passions."

One of Bryant's passions is giving back. He was recently named to be part of a Schools Facility Working Group looking into the long-term capital needs of Hamilton County public schools.

Kyle Bryant

* Job: Co-founder of Market Street Partners, CPA firm

* Hometown: Jackson, Tennessee

* College: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, bachelor's degree

* Residence: Signal Mountain

* Family: wife, Susan; two sons, Carter (2) and Follis (5).