Accounting firms that pushed accounting software from one software company were facing a backlash from clients who wanted to choose their own program, said Brad Paterson, Intuit’s managing director and vice president for the Asia Pacific region.
“In most cases in Australia the small business is coming to an accountant saying, I want to use this product. Some are saying what should I use, but most are saying, I have done my research, I have made the decision and want to ratify it. It’s a self-service market today,” Paterson told BoxFreeIT during a recent visit to Australia to promote cloud accounting program QuickBooks Online.
“Accounting firms that only support one product are losing their status with clients” who preferred a brand agnostic or “customer first” approach, Paterson said. Software companies had pressured firms into making sales to maintain a wholesale price and some firms had pressured clients to change software when they weren’t ready, Paterson said.
The situation was unique. Australia was the most competitive market for accounting software among the 100 countries in which Intuit was active, Paterson said. While accountants and bookkeepers in the US tended to recommend accounting software from one company, Australian firms were supporting multiple products.
“That’s where Australia leads the world because in other parts of the world accountants support just one” program, Paterson said.
Accountants and bookkeepers had told Intuit they weren’t keen on selling accounting software and were surprisingly interested in training and certification.
“They told us, ‘we want to be comfortable with your product, and that means being certified. We don’t want to have to sell software and services,’” Paterson said.
“No-one is saying to us, give us a margin incentive better than MYOB or Xero. If they say that to us we walk away from them,” Paterson said.
Intuit had seen a “monumental uptick” in inquiries from businesses and was running two to three webinars a week, Paterson claimed. That Monday 100 people had attended a webinar and received certification in QuickBooks Online, he said.
Intuit had trained 21 bookkeepers to train other bookkeepers and accountants, and planned to have 60 trainers by the end of the year.
“Bookkeepers are building a business out of becoming trainers and educators and teachers. It’s a new revenue stream,” Paterson said. “Together we are helping educate business and that’s why bookkeepers are almost a linchpin to our strategy.
“I believe if we educate the market and we continue to maintain the best product, and we lead with mobile, we don’t need to worry about wholesale price. (The strategy is) paying dividends,” Paterson said.
Image credit: Ben Wright (Tumbler)