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What the Return of QuickBooks Connect Could Mean

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It's been a while since I wrote a column, and I do plan to more often, but seeing the news that QuickBooks Connect is returning to the live stage later this year and the implications therein...well, I couldn't stay silent.

May 5th 2022
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For the first time since 2019, Intuit's QuickBooks Connect event is returning to the live stage but this time it is solely focused on accounting professionals. So, why is that so important?

While more details are still to come, what we know is that QuickBooks Connect, which had historically been in San Jose, California and invited accountants and small business customers alike, is only aimed at accountants this year and will be in December in Las Vegas. This matters for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the fact Intuit announced a live event little more than half a year before it happens. But there's more to it than that.

Certainly, many accounting and bookkeeping professionals who attended the annual affair in the past came to know what to expect...not so much this time around as details remain a mystery for the time being. What's more, is that there has been a growing feeling amongst even the most devout ProAdvisors that Intuit was considering them less in their plans and that maybe, just maybe, they didn't need them as much anymore.

I say this largely because one thing I've learned in my 20 years covering the accounting profession, perception is everything and no matter what the reality is, it is the profession-facing view that tends to win the day. And, moreover, the general perception was that Intuit in recent years has been behaving, well, more like the multi-billion-dollar software company it is and less of the "friend to the accounting professional" it was perceived to be.

As many accountants know, Intuit had for years relied heavily on its ProAdvisors -- true advocates of their core accounting product QuickBooks. And while Intuit would never admit this, the general feeling among accounting professionals was that Intuit was looking more to its customer base and bottom line than the base of professionals that helped support the company for decades.

Now, I realize much of this is speculation and Intuit, even when pressed, would never admit it publically. In fact, in its own announcement about the live event, Intuit professes to be "doubling down" on helping accountants get the most out of QuickBooks. In short, support for Intuit among accountants has rarely wavered until more recently.

Certainly, accounting professionals have had their issues with the sofware maker. But when QuickBooks Connect finally came to be several years ago, it was a reminder that much of the growth the company had experiened was indeed because of the professionals that felt they put it there. Or, so they thought.

Since then, Intuit has made some moves that had tax and accounting professionals questioning their role in the future of the company. First came TurboTax Live, which many tax-focused ProAdvisors felt slighted by as it appeared aimed at turning to Intuit for tax advice and support rather than the tax pro. Again, from Intuit's view, they saw the initiative as a support for tax pros to be a part of TurboTax Live and not anything that would take business from them. This of course was not entirely the perception among ProAdvisors.

Then came QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, which again, encouraged ProAdvisors to be a part of a direct-to-consumer (in this case small businesses) service that helped small businesses set up their books and get going on QuickBooks. Again, something many ProAdvisors felt slighted by as it was a service many of them could do themselves.

If that wasn't enough, more bad PR for Intuit came this week when the company agreed to pay $141 Million "for deceiving millions of low-income Americans into paying for tax services that should have been free." In fact, a CNBC report said TurboTax also "agreed to reform its business practices. For example, it must suspend a “free, free, free” advertising campaign that “lured” customers with the promise of free tax preparation but then asked them to pay, according to an announcement from New York Attorney General Letitia James."

So, in some respects, returning to a live event that is solely focused on its base of accounting and bookkeeping professionals could not come at a better time. It may even mend some fences.

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