Intuit launched its 3rd annual QuickBooks Connect user conference on Monday with a number of product announcements and awards.

In a wide-ranging keynote at the event, which drew over 5,000 people, including 1,700 accounting professionals, Intuit executive Jim McGinnis described a number of new features and products, discussed what it takes for accountants to build future-ready firms, shared the results of a recent survey -- and introduced his successor as head of Intuit’s accountants channel, Rich Preece.

McGinnis began by highlighting the importance of the relationship between businesses and their accountants. “What do small businesses need to thrive?” he asked. “The advice and support of accounting professionals.”

Technology, particularly the cloud, is changing that relationship, he noted – in good ways. “Technology is transforming our lives and our industry,” he said. “Data, unlocked from the jail that was the desktop and now living in the cloud, allows us to do so much more – like industry benchmarking,” where advisors can use cloud-based data to compare clients with their peers locally, nationally and even internationally.

Among the product developments McGinnis discussed were greater integration between QuickBooks Self-Employed and Intuit’s ProConnect Tax Online line of tax prep solutions, which will allow accountants to better manage all their clients. “We envision a time when you can manage all your clients online through QuickBooks Online Accountant,” he said.

Services to the self-employed will be particularly important, he noted, because self-employment has quadrupled in the past 27 years, to more than a third of the workforce, and is expected to reach 43 percent by 2020. “These people desperately need the help of an accountant,” McGinnis said.

He also mentioned the release of deeper integration between QBO and Paypal (see “Intuit and Paypal Deepen Integration”), and a partnership with Bill.com to bring digital payments to QBO (see “Bill.com Brings Digital Payments into QuickBooks Online”). 

Further, he noted that Intuit is launching a TV campaign to highlight the relationship between small businesses and accountants, and setting up the QB Accountant Partner Program to offer accountants tools and resources to promote, market and otherwise build their practices.

 

SURVEY SAYS …
McGinnis peppered his keynote with highlights from an Intuit survey of over 1,600 accounting professionals about their clients, technology and their practices.

Among the main results of the survey:

  • Over the past year, 58 percent of firms have expanded the percentage of clients using online software.
  • 44 percent of accountants are using or considering implementing some form of value or fixed-rate pricing.
  • 50 percent of respondents are currently working toward a professional certification, and half of those expect to receive it in the next 12 months.

 

INTRODUCING PREECE

McGinnis also formally introduced his successor as vice president of Intuit’s Accounting Segment, Small Business Group, Rich Preece.

Preece, who was previously vice president and managing director of Intuit Europe, became VP of the U.S. Accounting Segment in August. McGinnis has been named vice president of product management for Intuit ProConnect.

Coming to the U.S. from the U.K. and European markets, Preece noted one of the benefits of Intuit’s global reach to its users: “Being global, we can test things in different markets, and then bring the learnings to all our other markets,” he said.

Among his priorities in his new position, he said, would be furthering the connection between QuickBooks and Intuit’s tax prep solutions, and helping users more with finding clients. To that end, he noted, the company will soon be rolling out improvements to its tool for helping small-business owners find accountants, and encouraged the accountants in attendance to engage with that.

Preece also announced the finalists and winner of Intuit’s annual “Firm of the Future” contest. (See “Intuit Names ‘Firm of the Future’ Winner.”)

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