Chattanooga's Market Street Partners merges with Atlanta accounting firm

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton/ From left, Kevin Rose, partner with Market Street Partners; Sean Taylor, CEO of Smith + Howard; and Kyle Bryant, founding partner with Market Street Partners, are pictured Tuesday.
Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton/ From left, Kevin Rose, partner with Market Street Partners; Sean Taylor, CEO of Smith + Howard; and Kyle Bryant, founding partner with Market Street Partners, are pictured Tuesday.

One of Chattanooga's fastest-growing accounting firms is merging with the Atlanta-based Smith + Howard CPA firm, which was recently recognized by Inside Accounting as one of the nation's top fast-growing accounting firms.

Market Street Partners, which was started in 2016 by CPA partners Kyle Bryant and Kevin Rose, announced Thursday it is combining with Smith + Howard in a move to help support its continued growth and to diversify its financial offerings.

Under the merger agreement completed this week, Market Street Partners will operate under the Smith + Howard name.

The combined firm will deliver "the same high standard of service to clients and opportunities for its employees that have been a hallmark of the firm since its founding," said Bryant, who will serve as managing partner of the Chattanooga office.

Companies at a glance

Name: Smith + Howard.

Headquarters: Midtown Atlanta.

Founders: Jim Howard and Joe Smith started the firm in 1971.

2022 revenues: $46.86 million (the 103rd biggest CPA firm in the nation).

Managing partner: Sean Taylor.

Staff size: 170.

Other business lines: In addition to its tax and accounting services, the firm offers wealth management services and tax payments through its Synexus Tax Solutions subsidiary.

Name: Market Street Partners.

Headquarters: Downtown Chattanooga.

Founders: Kyle Bryant and Kevin Rose in 2016.

2022 revenues: $6.3 million (the 470th biggest CPA firm in the nation).

Managing partner: Kyle Bryant.

Staff size: 35.

Sources: IPA 500 list, company reports

"The unification of the two firms will bolster MSP's service offerings to its clients and provide a pathway to accelerated innovation in processes and technology, opportunities for its people and an attractive career for future talent," Bryant said in an announcement of the merger Thursday. "We look forward to bringing an enhanced array of resources and expertise to our clients, while maintaining the close relationships, personal touch and local presence that our clients value, and deep engagement in our community."

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but the acquisition of the Chattanooga-based Market Street Partners will be the first acquisition for Smith + Howard since the firm was created more than two decades ago. The purchase of Market Street Partners is expected to be the first of several such acquisitions of other CPA firms as Smith + Howard grows into a national accounting firm, Smith + Howard CEO Sean Taylor said.

Taylor, who became CEO in 2019, launched a strategic plan in early 2020 billed as Vision 2030, and he envisions averaging a couple of CPA mergers each year as part of the plan for "exponential growth" in the years ahead.

"We've made huge investments in our infrastructure and our technology to equip us to have that backbone and platform to support the growth of our company," Taylor said in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press at the Market Street Partners office on the third floor of the 715 Market St. office building.

Taylor said the firm was attracted to Market Street Partners by its leadership and staff, growth trajectory and location in what Taylor said is a "very pro-business" state.

"The addition of Market Street Partners to our family of companies is a perfect fit, as we share closely aligned values, visions and a dedication to providing high-quality, personalized service to our clients," Taylor said in the announcement of the merger Thursday. "With our firms united, we are expanding our footprint in the Southeast region, setting the path for broader geographic growth, while enhancing the breadth and depth of services we provide."

Smith + Howard was recently recognized as a Fastest Growing Firm in the nation and a Top 200 Firm in the nation by Inside Public Accounting, the firm's 13th consecutive appearance on the Top 200 list.

Last fall, the New York-based equity firm, Broad Sky Partners, bought into Smith + Howard, providing the Atlanta accounting firm the capital to expand its services and buy other firms, Taylor said.

Allan D. Koltin, CEO of the Koltin Consulting Group, which advised both firms on the combination, said in a statement that Smith + Howard is "one of the highest-performing accounting and advisory firms in the country," and "they wanted their first deal to be a strong culture fit with a great firm in their geographic footprint.

"That is exactly what happened here," Koltin said. "Market Street Partners is one of Tennessee's youngest and fastest-growing firms, and they will be a welcome addition to S+H. My guess is this deal will serve as a springboard for other successful firms to join S+H."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.

  photo  Staff Photo by Olivia Ross / Kyle Bryant of Market Street Partners poses for a photo April 10. Market Street Partners announced this week is it merging with Smith + Howard of Atlanta.