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brad smith, intuit ceo

Intuit Continues Cloud Push in QB Connect Keynote

Nov 2nd 2015
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It's a thin line to walk to both promote cloud and be a future-leaning accountant while still supporting those on desktop products, but it's one Intuit and Jim McGinnis, its vice president and leader of the Accountant Segment of the Small Business Group, continue to traverse.

In his keynote speech to more than 1,000 accountants during day one of Intuit's QB Connect event in San Jose, California, McGinnis did his level best to inform and invigorate attendees to embrace cloud technology – QuickBooks Online in particular – and all of the purported benefits of being a “firm of the future.” All of this was done while also reminding ProAdvisors that Intuit has no intention of “abandoning the desktop”… yet.

“We stay committed to improving our customers' lives so profoundly we can't think about going back to the old way of doing things. The accountant has the same mission,” said McGinnis. “Being a firm of the future is the best way for you to achieve that goal.”

According to his description, a firm of the future is one that predominantly works online, is more of an advisor to its clients, prices on the value of its work, and is connected on social media.

To further reiterate the point, Intuit ran a firm of the future contest that started in July, whereby ProAdvisors submitted videos and testimonials as to why they fit the description. McGinnis announced the winner and two runner-up firms from a list of 20 finalists. These firms included: Polymath, an Ashland, Oregon-based bookkeeping firm; ESK&H, a Denver-based CPA firm; and the winner, Knoxville, Tennessee accountants Two Roads.

McGinnis also furthered the point of value pricing by bringing none other than Ron Baker to the stage to reiterate the importance of this method as part of being a firm of the future – which also happens to be the title of a book Baker authored. As usual, Baker had a myriad of potable quotes regarding the idea of hourly billing versus value pricing, not “value billing.” The point that seemed to resonate the most was when Baker said, “the problem with the time sheet is that it is an illusion of control,” to which he added, “time sheets are like using a smoke detector to time the baking of your cookies.”

It wouldn't be a QuickBooks event without mention of the product itself, to which McGinnis did have a few points to make, particularly about QuickBooks Online. He claimed that the first seven-and-a-half years since its release, QBO only garnered 100,000 users while today they boast that number of new registrants on a monthly basis. The hope, he said, is to claim 2 million QBO users soon.

In addition, Intuit announced that it had added a trial balance function to QBO Accountant, which was designed to help reduce or eliminate manual data import, export, and entry work to help save time. Despite many accountants still feeling the desktop product is “better” or that QBO is “not as good” as the desktop version, this feature is expected to go some way to abating those feelings.

In closing, McGinnis added “ultimately we do want one QuickBooks that everyone uses together, and we will get there.”

Finalizing the accountant-focused morning keynote was Intuit CEO Brad Smith, who took a couple of minutes to thank accountants for being there and to show his personal support.

“In our survey work, we have found that if businesses work with an accountant, their odds of success go up 89 percent. We want you to continue to do the great work that you do,” said Smith.

There is likely to be more than accountant back-patting and Intuit product promotion to come from this four-day event, so I hope you do stay tuned and perhaps share your own thoughts on the company, their products, and issues you face in your day-to-day that they and other vendors could better address.


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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
Nov 3rd 2015 09:51 EST

Great report - thanks Seth. Due to other commitments I missed the early part of the keynote session and only came in when Joe Woodard took the stage to run Ron Baker and Mark Wickersham through their paces.
Ron certainly does give good quote - the cookie/smoke detector is a classic.
But then he's had a long time and engaged in a lot of debates (some with AccountingWEB members) to hone those lines.
What I found interesting was the way they brought Ron together with 2020's Groups Mark Wickersham. On the face of it, they're partly rivals hoping to influence the same firms. But where Ron has got the vision part nailed down and can always come up with a memorable, inspiring line, Mark is really good at the nuts and bolts and even in his short preview was promising delegates how he could guarantee their success if they followed his 7-point pricing plan. They make a good double act.
Even more powerfully, in some quarters such as among readers of our Practice Excellence pages and in entries to our UK Practice Excellence Awards, the value pricing argument is over for pathfinder firms and they're moving on to the how-to phase that Mark Wickersham addresses.
There will be more to come from San Jose on this subject during the week (along with the product promotion).

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