Intuit has launched a bookkeeping service in the US and announced it in Australia in what looks like the beginning of a global rollout. QuickBooks Live targets the 40 percent of businesses that don’t have an accountant or bookkeeper connected to their QuickBooks file.
US startups such as Bench sell bookkeeping services directly to small businesses and service them using Bench’s own accounting software developed in house. However, QuickBooks Live is the first time that a global accounting software company selling software through accountants and bookkeepers has added a bookkeeping service.
While Intuit’s stated intent is to avoid competition with accounting professionals, QuickBooks Live will have an unknown impact on market share, the average price of bookkeeping services, and expected quality of service in the market.
Rich Preece, Intuit’s global accountant segment leader and US country manager, holds the P&L for QuickBooks Live. Digital First caught up with Preece last week to understand how the service works, what its impact will be and where Intuit wants to take it.
The interview below has been edited for brevity and clarity.
DigitalFirst: What exactly is QuickBooks Live?
Preece: I’ll give you the two or three minute answer because to show how we got here. , what is it? And then we can go in any direction you would like to. As you know, we have always had what we call the Find a Pro Advisor platform, where we connect small businesses with accounting professionals. We know that small businesses say they’re more successful when they work with an accounting professional, and transparently, it’s a better experience in terms of retention rates (for QuickBooks) when small businesses work with accounting professionals.
We know it’s a win, win, win. We’ve done it for many years. Sixty percent of all QBO customers are connected to an accounting professional. Now, the question that we didn’t ever spend a tonne of time on is, what about the other 40 percent? Why are they not connected?
So a year ago we asked those 40 percent, why are you saying no to working with an accounting professional? Is it that you don’t need any help? And we were somewhat surprised that the answer consistently was, “I probably need some help getting started and I think I need some help with basic bookkeeping, but I’m not even sure to be honest with you what I mean by that”.
And then when we said, “If you’re not going to get it from an accounting professional, who are you going to get it from”? Their answer was, “Well, hopefully you guys”. And so that was essentially how we first started thinking about this.
So we took a step back and said, why don’t we build a platform and invite (Pro Advisor) bookkeepers onto this platform. It’s not Intuit employees, we’re not competing in the industry. This is a platform to connect with the other 40 percent and not the 60 percent (that already have a bookkeeper or accountant). What we will do is, we will honour the fact that they’re not looking for an accounting professional and we think that QuickBooks can help them.
DigitalFirst: What does this look like from the bookkeeper’s perspective?
Preece: We will send you a laptop, , we’ll give you all the technology, we will train you (on our processes) – you already know QuickBooks because you’re a Pro Advisor. You can work as little or as much as you would like to. You can work from your own home. And then when I as a customer log into QuickBooks and I say, hey, I’d like some on demand help, then Sholto is one of the – over time – thousands of people who are these on demand professionals in QuickBooks helping with setup or basic bookkeeping.
DigitalFirst: How much will this cost?
Preece: They are paying QuickBooks for that service. And we are testing prices from $200 to $400. We’re still testing pricing. And then we will pay you by the hour for the time that you spend on the platform. It’s still TBD on exactly what the economics of it are going to be.
What we’re trying to do is expand the opportunities of small businesses working together with the accounting profession. We’re basically saying to Pro Advisors, if you want to participate on this platform, it’s an opportunity to earn more revenue. You obviously don’t have to. We don’t think it’s competitive, we actually think that we’re helping you connect with people that weren’t looking for you in the first place.
DigitalFirst: What happens when a business needs more than basic bookkeeping?
Preece: When they outgrow the needs of QuickBooks Live we will recommend they connect with an accounting professional in the same way that we always have done.
DigitalFirst: With QuickBooks Live who would you say owns the customer?
Preece: Yeah, it’s a great question and it is QuickBooks, it is Intuit. I know it’s not the answer that everybody wants to hear, but it’s the honest answer and here’s why that’s important. I get the question, by the way, every time I speak in front of a group of accountants on this, DigitalFirst.
Accounting professionals initially say, this is great because (they think) I can add a new client to my client base. And I have to explain to them that the small business said they weren’t ready for an accountant or a bookkeeper. So if it turns out I’ve got my own CPA firm and I’m more than happy to help you with your payroll and other needs, we’ve now essentially broken the initial promise from just minutes earlier. Which is, I’m not ready for a CPA but I do want a QuickBooks accounting professional to help me.
So the promise to the accounting professional is it’s a revenue opportunity, it’s not a client opportunity. The client opportunity is still on the other platform (the Find a Pro Advisor Directory).
DigitalFirst: So you don’t plan on using bookkeepers who are 100 percent QuickBooks Live?
Preece: Yeah, exactly. And frankly, it’s up to them. We have the benefit of having already done something similar for two years in Turbo Tax in the U.S. with Turbo Tax Live.
In the US unless you file your tax return, you don’t pay (for the TurboTax software). Millions of people get to a place in their tax return where they lose certainty and confidence to complete it on their own. Their only option is to go to a tax professional and probably pay $300, which is what they didn’t want to do.
So we introduced Turbo Tax Live which is about $80. And it says, If you need help from a CPA, press the on demand button now, and boom, they’re on your screen (via video conferencing).
What we learned from those accounting professionals – and there are several thousand and they’re Pro Advisors as well – the vast majority of them have an existing practice. Turbo Tax Live is about excess capacity. This is about earning some more money on a Saturday morning. Say they’ve got a more junior member of their staff and that they put them on this for ten hours a week.
So they have their regular practice and this is incremental to it. That’s what we found most people do.
Now, I’m sure there’s always one or two people that from a lifestyle standpoint, will enjoy the fact that you work as much as you want or as little as you want. You work the hours you want. I’m sure over time there’ll be some people that will like that approach, but most of them have their own practice.
DigitalFirst: Whatever price you choose for this service, whether it’s $200 or $400, you’re anchoring the price for bookkeeping services. What impact do you think that will have on market rates out there for accounting and bookkeeping services when Intuit, with 80 percent market share in the US, comes out and says, “This is the price for basic bookkeeping”? That will obviously have a knock-on effect for that 60/40 split and there will be cannibalisation.
Preece: Two answers to that question, Sholto. One is, I genuinely believe that the vast majority of the people that are using this service were not about to find an accounting professional. Because again, they are the same people that said, I don’t want that right now. So I honestly think this expands the number of people who are looking for that expert help, because once they get a little taste of it they realise the value of it. So I genuinely think this is more accretive than dilutive in terms of growing the pie.
Regarding price anchoring, we will have tiers. We won’t launch with tiers. We’re going live June 3 in the U.S., so two weeks from now. Our first price point is only going to be $400.
Many bookkeepers today offer services for less than $250. And so I would argue that at the moment, we’re probably on the high end of it and that’s what we’re going to launch with on June 3.
Now, what I would love to have over time, and we almost certainly will, is two or three different offerings in the line-up. So there might be a $200, there might be a $400, there might be a $700 (package). What we need to learn is the utilisation and the expectations for each of this. This is kind of half of the problem. When we say basic bookkeeping, everybody has a different definition.
We’re being very deliberate with our words. We’re saying it’s “Do it with me”. When people go to a normal accounting professional, it’s “Do it for me”. If Sholto, I work with you, I would tell folks, “I work with Sholto, he’s my guy”.
This isn’t one of those experiences. This is where you might have a small team who are industry experts but it’s less about having your guy or your woman.
I think there are many things that are different and so the fact that we’re coming out the gate with $400 (in the US) proves that we’re not trying to undercut anybody.
DigitalFirst: I know that some American firms are using Filipino bookkeepers to lower costs. Is a Pro Advisor in the Philippines able to work for this service?
Preece: Well, now you have asked the question that nobody else has. To be honest, we haven’t really thought about it. The intent is that it is in-country. So when we launch in Australia, the intent is that we are servicing Pro Advisors based in Australia. That is the intent. We will have to make sure that there isn’t leakage, so to speak.
DigitalFirst: One of the things I’m interested in is you’re putting the Intuit brand up there. A brand that’s worth a lot of money and you guys do everything at very high quality. How do you ensure that bookkeepers working for QuickBooks Live deliver on that brand promise?
Preece: We have the benefit of a couple of years of at least similar learnings down in the Turbo Tax division. But let me answer the question directly. First of all, there will be a sort of an intake process. We’ve already got many, many people that have asked to be added to a list (in the US).
Not all Pro Advisors will get this opportunity. And in Turbo Tax, far more Pro Advisors want to do it than we have had do it. The reason is that there is certification beyond the current Pro Advisor certification. We have to add this (for Bookkeeping Live) over the next weeks and months.
And some of the certification is around how you engage with a client. It’s not just knowledge of QuickBooks Online, you have to have empathy, you have to a little bit of what we expect from our own folks who represent our brand everyday and work for us.
Then, there is training. It takes six weeks to get somebody up to speed with our onboarding, and that’s after we’ve sent you the laptop, the technology and the headset. We’re going to do test calls with you.
Once you’re live on the platform, there is a feedback loop that we will get from customers. There are also things like background checks which is clearly something that everybody has to go through. So there’s the background check, the certification, six weeks of training and the feedback.
It’s fairly rigorous. The thing that makes me feel at least good about this is that on the Turbo Tax side we’re up to about three to four thousand accounting professionals. Who, again, most are pro advisors. The Net Promoter Score (a customer satisfaction survey) is off the charts.
We have not seen those issues of negative brand issues. And 90 percent of the Pro Advisors came back the second year to participate on the platform. So not only was it a positive experience for customers, but equally important to us, it was a positive experience for the Pro Advisors.
DigitalFirst: It’s interesting that you’re providing this training. Given the high standard that Intuit sets, even if I’m not going to do QuickBooks Live, an accountant may want to see what the training is like and it’d be great if my staff did it. It would become a baseline for a quality bookkeeping service.
DigitalFirst: I’m interested in, mechanically, in how this works. Is it like with ODesk where you’re monitoring bokkeepers’ screens so you can record when people are working? You’re just copying that infrastructure from Turbo Tax Live, right?
Preece: Largely, yes, is the answer. We built something which we call a virtual expert platform. So if you heard us say VEP internally, that’s what we’re talking about. There is technology called Smart Look that gives me authorisation to see your screen (and take control of the mouse). So it’s a completely closed platform for all the right privacy reasons. With the authorization from the user, immediately that Pro Adviser is there on screen (in a video chat window).
I can point things out to you, make changes, navigate around your screen for you. I can even do things offline as well.
One of the interesting things we found with tests of small groups of customers is that a good chunk of the work happens offline. So you will ask some questions, we’ll be on video, I will then actually work on that offline for an hour and then in our next scheduled meeting I will tell you what I’ve done or what I fixed.
DigitalFirst: If you’re delivering a bookkeeping service with a Net Promoter Score that is “off the charts”, it will be a bit jarring when the business needs to move to an accounting firm that doesn’t have whole teams focused on customer experience. Won’t it create dissonance when the business has an amazing technology experience with video support to best-effort phone support from their local accountant?
Preece: The best way I can answer that question is that a lot of the reason why somebody is going to that accounting firm is the relationship. I’ve used accountants in the past. I can tell you their names, I can tell you where their offices are, and it’s because I want to sit there for forty five minutes and ask my questions and look them in the eye and have a relationship. Honestly, I’m probably willing to pay more for that.
This is a different service. You’re doing it on your own and now somebody’s helping you. There are great accountants out there and we’re never going to be that personal, face-to-face service. People have to obviously make the choice that’s right for them.
DigitalFirst: Inevitably it will force a lot of firms to pick up their game. If the business goes to an accounting firm that will send a manila envelope full of forms in about two weeks time, the customer is not going to be impressed.
Preece: I think you’re probably right, and frankly, I hope you are. All of our jobs, at the end of the day, are in servicing small businesses. And so if as a result of this, small businesses get better service from accounting professionals, I actually think that’s a win around the board.
DigitalFirst: What is the biggest risk for Intuit in rolling out this service? How are you testing the price and making sure businesses won’t need more support than your fixed fee? Would you sell bookkeeping on an hourly rate?
Preece: The biggest risk for us is, what is the consumption? We’ve had 200 small businesses in a test for the last two months (in the US), so we have a pretty good idea of what the consumption is.
Which is why we have an idea of the $400 price point. We believe in the value pricing, not hourly pricing. That said, honestly, I am fascinated to see if we end up there. I can’t promise you that we won’t change the price because if people start consuming 20 hours a month on a platform where they’re paying $400, we’d have to raise the price or limit the consumption.
If you go the limit the consumption path, the numerator that makes the most sense to me is time. But if we do that, we’re running against what we have said is value pricing. So the short answer is, we’re not selling hours at the moment. We’re selling an on-demand service where we don’t even talk about hours. But maybe that has to change.
NB. The image above is from a test in the US and may not reflect Australian pricing or packages.
Intuit announced today that it will start testing a new service in Australia called QuickBooks Live that includes file setup and basic bookkeeping. The service will be provided by independent bookkeepers who are certified as QuickBooks Pro Advisors and who will receive an hourly wage for providing the bookkeeping service.
The setup and basic bookkeeping are sold as “Done with you” rather than the conventional “Done for you” approach by self-employed bookkeepers. Intuit released a video support service today called SmartLook that opens a video chat window on the page of the accounting program. The bookkeeper can move a pointer over the page to explain how to use the software or reconcile a transaction.
The service has been tested successfully in the US market where Intuit has committed to a full rollout. It is based on TurboTax Live, an accounting service that helps employees fill out simple tax returns for a fixed fee of $80. Over 3,000 accountants participate in the TurboTax Live service and Intuit forecasts that thousands of bookkeepers will eventually join QuickBooks Live (in the US), says Rich Preece, global accountant segment leader at Intuit.
Software companies in other industries were increasingly adding complementary services, says Ariege Misherghi, director for accountant business at Intuit. She gave the example of US medical service MDLive which provided a directory and software to speak to doctors. “It’s a technology trend,” Misherghi says.
Intuit is not the first company in the US to offer a combined package of accounting software and bookkeeping services. Startups Bench and In Dinero (see below) have already demonstrated the business model. However, Intuit is the first accounting software company to add bookkeeping as a service, a move which will likely ruffle feathers among their accounting partners.
Intuit says the target audience for its bookkeeping service are the 40 percent of QuickBooks users globally who don’t have a bookkeeper or accountant. Intuit didn’t intend to compete with the 60 percent of QuickBooks users that already have an accounting professional, says Preece.
Once a QuickBooks user requires more advanced bookkeeping services such as payroll Intuit will recommend the business to an accounting or bookkeeping firm, Preece says.
“We’re basically saying to Pro Advisors, if you want to participate on this platform, it’s an opportunity to earn more revenue. You obviously don’t have to,” Preece says. “We don’t think it’s competitive. We actually think that we’re helping you connect with people that weren’t looking for you in the first place.”
Intuit wants to introduce the 40 percent of QuickBooks users to bookkeeping so they can then progress to become customers of accounting firms directly, Misherghi says.
“Our objective for QuickBooks Live is to dramatically increase the number of people who get the benefit of working with an accounting professional. There’s more demand than there is supply. And so what we need to do is look for a way for the industry to scale,” Misherghi says.
Read on for commentary. COMING SOON: A full interview with Rich Preece on QuickBooks Live.
What is it?
- Intuit is selling QuickBooks setup and basic bookkeeping directly to small businesses.
- The price is yet to be determined but could be in the range of $200 to $400 a month.
- The service will be supplied by bookkeepers who have certified as QuickBooks Pro Advisors. They will apply and sit for a certification in addition to the Pro Advisor exam. Once accepted, the bookkeeper will receive six weeks of training from Intuit on its bookkeeping processes.
- Intuit is still working out what is included in the bookkeeping services it provides. Bank reconciliation is a pretty strong candidate but payroll is not.
Why is Intuit moving into bookkeeping?
There are a range of possible reasons for Intuit moving in this direction that may have influenced the company’s decision. The official line is that software plus service is a cross-industry trend that is better for the user. Here are five reasons that may have encouraged Intuit to move into services.
1. A growing threat
Intuit is not the first company to offer combined accounting software and bookkeeping. Bench has raised US$33m to date – small fry next to a billion-dollar behemoth like Intuit but more than Xero had when Intuit first spotted it. Bench bills itself as “America’s largest bookkeeping business for small businesses”, and that’s a concern for the territorial Intuit.
Bench is not the only example of software plus bookkeeping. In Dinero started out earlier but hasn’t managed to keep up with Bench after it added accounting and tax services.
Is Intuit genuinely worried about Bench and others? Does it need to join them to beat them?
2. Increasing subscription sales
When you’re selling online software (AKA software-as-a-service) the prime directive for converting prospects to customers is to get them using the software as quickly as possible. The biggest obstacle is always uploading your own data and setting your preferences so you can test the benefits in a meaningful way. Intuit’s bookkeeping service will handhold prospects through the process which should definitely increase the conversion rate to customers.
On a global scale, Intuit is racing against Xero and other local competitors to win businesses before they settle on their cloud accounting software. The differences aren’t so great between softwares so once a business has made a choice then it will be very hard to get them off.
If this bookkeeping service is rolled out globally, Intuit could have a dramatic impact on the rate at which it acquires new customers in new markets. The number of total customers globally has a material impact on Intuit’s share price which is driven by recurring revenue.
It’s a pretty strong argument to a software company.
3. Faster automation
Intuit advertises its connection with customers through Follow Me Homes, an exercise where an Intuit employee watches a business owner at work and watches how they use Intuit’s accounting and tax software.
Now Intuit doesn’t need to do follow-me-homes. It gives the bookkeepers a locked down laptop running special software to provide the bookkeeping service. It gives those bookkeepers six weeks of training. That’s a very solid baseline from which Intuit can monitor the actions of bookkeepers and work out how to automate the next steps. It could record every single action of a bookkeeper doing payroll into a database and then feed that into an algorithm to, in the short term, move the mouse pointer and click on buttons automatically (robotic process automation). In the longer term Intuit could rewrite the software to automate that action and reduce the number of tasks to file payroll.
The jury is still out on how much bookkeeping and accounting will eventually be automated by AI. Even making estimates at five years is impossible. But if you believed that a significant chunk of that work could be automated, it makes sense to start collecting as much data about that process as possible.
Will the ability to monitor a control group of bookkeepers increase the pace of automation?
4. Direct by nature
Intuit is a direct brand. It advertises during the SuperBowl. It has enormous brand recognition across the US where it holds a commanding 80%+ market share. Its customers are small businesses. Or as Cassie Devine, the head of the QuickBooks platform told the Australian audience, “We work for you” (i.e. business owners).
I guess that’s no different to the dominant brand recognition that MYOB enjoyed 10 years ago when it sold shrinkwrapped copies of its desktop software at OfficeWorks.
It’s a different strategy to how accounting software is sold in Australia. Here a very high percentage of accounting software sales are sold through accountants.
The big question – will Xero follow suit?
5. Because it could
TurboTax Live already employs more than 3,000 accountants to deliver that service. It has the knowhow, the technical infrastructure and support teams to run an accounting-focused service. Why not duplicate it for a different area of the business?
It means extra revenue, a tighter relationship with customers, and the potential to expand into other services.
A broader arc
Accountants used to be the sole guardians of a business’ tax affairs. Business owners would send in their accounting file on a CD or USB, the accountant would add journals to fix up the file – and often not bother to fix the business owner’s file. The accountant had the source of truth, the one that the tax office reviewed. It was an asset under the accountant’s control.
That changed with cloud accounting, where both accountant and business owner worked on the same file. Adding bank feeds meant the file could be updated more frequently which made it easier to use it as a reporting tool to guide the business.
It also meant that the accountant no longer controlled the asset. The software company did. And the software company reaped the rewards associated with it – benchmarking huge amounts of data to see trends such as what apps businesses use, the banks they patronise, even gross expenditure with large utilities. But at least the accountant/bookkeeper could consider themselves to be the sole holder of tax knowledge. Just like a doctor, years of professional training and experience made them an essential part of a business owner’s life.
This is the next step. A software company providing bookkeeping services, including categorisation of expenses. Even though Intuit is stressing that the service will only provide basic bookkeeping services, the boundaries between software company and bookkeeper are blurring. Basic bookkeeping is now a value-add to the accounting software.
The question a lot of accountants will ask is – where will this end? If you’re starting on basic bookkeeping, why not advanced bookkeeping like payroll? What about basic tax?
It is a legitimate question given In Dinero’s arc and one that Intuit won’t have an answer for longer timeframes. Maybe it will make sense to Intuit’s shareholders one day that the company move further in this direction.
It fits with a prophetic article “Software is eating the world” written by Marc Andreessen, billionaire founder of the NetScape browser and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, in 2011. His central point was that many services will become software.
Not every part of every service – human judgement is too valuable and human interaction impossible to replicate.
But how much can and will be automated? A question for our times that software companies will continually ask.
This year MYOB has shown the first fruits of a long-awaited revamp of its Accountants Enterprise and Office software. Well, not so much a revamp as a staged rollout, and it’s only getting started. There’s plenty more to come under its “connected practice” vision.
Still, it is a very positive sign for all those firms still running MYOB Accountants Enterprise and Accountants Office. Not that larger firms had many options, given Xero’s commitment to focusing on firms with under 20 employees. But it’s clear that the “wait and see” approach is paying off.
Some elements of the cloud suite mentioned below are in public beta (such as the compliance workflow), some are due for release later in the year. Some concepts such as the MYOB Advisor are original to MYOB, others have been borrowed from point products in the Xero ecosystem, but MYOB’s pitch is that you only need to buy one product to have it all.
This won’t satisfy the early adopters who are willing to put up with the inconvenience of multiple products in return for cutting-edge features and the highest possible efficiency. But MYOB looks like it is doing enough to hang onto the larger firms that move more slowly. As long as it keeps hitting its delivery windows. (See final section)
Compliance in the Connected Practice
Efficiency was a strong design goal, from collaborating with clients to running bulk coding queries in the dashboard. The layout is intended to help accountants plan and prioritise work around BAS lodgement, says Lisa Baldacchino, MYOB senior product manager.
A client filter works across all parts of the connected practice suite. It has just four tabs across the top of the screen for transaction processing, tasks, documents and advisory.
The transaction processing column shows a file summary; the number of unallocated transactions, the type of subscription (eg. Essentials), a quarterly summary of the financial year that look like heat maps, and a percentage automated indicator.
The latter feature is a nice idea – reminiscent of Receipt Bank’s practice platform – that helps you help your clients. The more efficient their compliance the better the service the firm can provide with reporting, etc.
You can filter clients to just see quarterly BASes and when they are due. Filter again by transaction processing to see who has the most transactions to process.
Instead of going into each file to generate a coding report and attaching it to an email, accountants can bulk generate coding reports for all clients and automatically post it to the document portal.
BAS fields are prefilled from the client file, and once given the ok are posted into the document portal for an e-signature.
In fact, the portal gets quite a workout with the new setup. Users can use it to send checklists out to clients for documents as well as queries. MYOB’s cloud corporate compliance product (in beta) will use the portal for electronic signing of forms to make changes to companies.
MYOB have done a good job looking at the ways they can use data to increase the speed of compliance across a client base. Forms and fields across the suite are linked so that entering data in one section such as a tax file number populates in all the others. Ledger data is automatically pre-filled into a trial balance, for example. And the suite will automatically prefill some forms by pulling information from the ATO.
The connected practice suite shows the ATO status of activity statements (eg. overdue) and information about upcoming BAS lodgements. The transaction processing column shows the amount of work due for each statement.
“It saves a lot of time in reconciling those two lists,” says Baldacchino.
MYOB claims that a large proportion of a company tax return (70 percent) will be automatically prefilled. Form fields are deep linked which means you can click on a number and see the source behind it, such as an MYOB worksheet. If you manipulate the number in the source document it is automatically updated in the return.
The new suite is billed as more user friendly, and certainly the interface does a better job of displaying information. Tiles at the top of the compliance screen jump to different parts of the workflow; trial balance, asset register, financial statement, tax reconciliation, and company return.
MYOB counted the number of mouse/keyboard clicks it took to complete common tasks and looked for ways to reduce them. You can see this in small but important productivity lifts users will appreciate, such as the ability to build a favourites list (My List) for your current clients. Entities are listed in groups so that you can see all the tax returns for companies, individuals or trusts within the group.
Workpapers gets a boost, too. Data from the previous year is rolled over to the next year, so you have that data to start the compliance workflow. The trial balance screen includes a column with icons showing which accounts have workpapers attached. MYOB plans to add an AI feature which will analyse account groups and suggest where workpapers are required.
Advisory in the Connected Practice
MYOB Advisor, an acquisition which is now firmly tucked into the suite, is a very solid addition to the business reporting lineup. The biggest benefit is that it is a very fast way to generate valuable advice.
It takes two minutes to generate text summaries of important events in a business’ finances over the past period.
It’s the text summaries that make this product work so well. The auto-generated text insights are straightforward interpretations of the data, but they cut down the time it takes an adviser to decide which things to mention and what to say about them.
It also means that a relatively inexperienced adviser can use the tool to reveal all the important occurrences in the past quarter’s trading. So junior accountant can print off a report and still give some useful advice to a client.
Of course, this tool doesn’t turn an accountant with no experience into a grey-hair guru with decades of business experience. But even just following the script with small businesses and asking them, “what happened during this period with this account code?” could help them understand their decisions a little better.
The report is broken into sections with dynamic graphs. You can click on the ranges on the accounts receivable bar graph (current, 1-14 days, 15-30 days, 30 days+) to include or exclude those figures.
If a business has a large amount of very overdue invoices, an adviser can choose to show only invoices more than 30 days overdue.
New Owner – New Priorities?
The big question is what MYOB’s new owner thinks of the ambitious revamp. The company has committed $50 million to R&D over three years from 2019 to 2021. Will KKR turn out to be a cost-stripper like Archer Capital or an investor like Bain?
“KKR are very excited about our strategy and growing the business,” says Dave Weickhardt, MYOB’s general manager for product, when I asked him late last week. Hopefully for all those MYOB AE firms out there that money is locked in.
Image Credit: MYOB
You have to give it to the team at Apple, they know how to stand out in a crowd. Check out the picture of that new credit card. No expiry, no CVV, no number.
Just a blank slate of titanium with your name under the Apple logo (of course). Every other premium credit card looks instantly and completely out of date.
Apple Card works with Apple Pay on your iPhone like any other approved credit card, while the physical titanium card works in stores that don’t accept Apple Pay. Apple has removed almost every type of fee that you would usually find on a credit card – though if you’re late in paying the interest rate goes up.
There’s a fascinating interaction with Apple’s internal currency, Apple Pay Cash, which could move hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars onto an Apple controlled platform.
Xero and Intuit will be most interested in the software that goes with the digital/titanium card. It automatically categorises payments, adds map locations and colour logos to transactions, shows monthly expenditure in graphs, and has a dial interface to select the level of repayment and interest.
This is a very interesting story which definitely has implications for accounting software which I’ll examine in greater detail next week. It’s not the first time that big tech companies have edged in on accounting.
Microsoft threw a huge amount of cash with Microsoft Money but was trounced by Intuit. Apple is starting from a very different position – and a fan base far bigger and more loyal than any accounting software (yes, even Xero).
One restriction for the Apple Card is that it appears you must have an iPhone to order one. And most likely a later model. One report expects that iPhone 8 will be the oldest compatible model. This automatically limits the market. It could either harm the potential market share for Apple Card or have the reverse effect and drive more iPhone sales.
It will also depend on a country’s existing iPhone penetration. For example, Apple has a very high market share in Australia; 43 percent of all smartphone users (8.6 million of 19.3 million in 2018) are holding iPhones compared to the global average of 15 percent.
In comparison, the figure in the UK and US is about 33 percent. Only in Japan does the iPhone enjoy a higher (45 percent) market share.
So I would hope we will get a close look at the impact of this essentially new technology combination.
A watershed in accounting tech for sure.
Image credit: Apple