When CEO Sasan Goodarzi took the helm at Intuit in 2019, he declared a new strategy around making QuickBooks an artificial intelligence-driven, expert platform. He couldn’t have been ready for a global pandemic the very next year — no one could — but the company has ridden the wave of technology acceleration spurred by COVID-19 and is poised for 2021 with a responsive portfolio of products.
Despite bringing many hard surprises, 2020 was a good year for Intuit. The company posted 13 percent growth for FY 2020, driven mostly but a strong TurboTax performance. The company did see a dip in demand for its small-business and self-employed offerings, but now, it’s seeing recovering trends across platforms, including improved retention rates, payments volume, and employees paid with QuickBooks Payroll offerings, a spokesperson for Intuit said. However, the company is preparing for anything, as there remains a great deal of uncertainty in the market, particularly for small businesses, as the pandemic continues to run its course.
“Our No. 1 concern is client success,” Amy Murphy, group marketing manager of the accountant segment for Intuit, told Accounting Today. “That has meant holding ourselves accountable to our accountant and bookkeeper partners. Aside from various COVID relief efforts, we found that accountants were really focusing on online technologies, so there has been a bigger shift to the cloud. We’re thrilled we were able to help accountants using QuickBooks Online to collaborate with clients virtually.”
Besides enabling accountants online, the company's QuickBooks Capital enabled 33,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan applications. And this year Intuit introduced the Cash Flow Planner for QBO, a function that became more important to businesses than ever as they were forced to shift their business online or change their operations significantly.
Intuit’s goal for accountants in the coming year is threefold: The company aims to help them grow their practice, scale their practice, and increase their impact. Murphy noted that clients are turning more to accountants to forecast cash flow; for creative ways to pay for critical expenses; and for guidance around non-accounting business needs. Intuit is focused on helping accountants seize the opportunity and make the most of the new business coming their way.
“We’re hearing that accountants are concerned for their clients, and want to make sure their clients are OK,” Murphy said. “They’re often working around the clock to make sure clients are getting what they need. We saw huge energy and usage around our PPP experience. Allowing our small businesses to get funds to continue to pay employees has been a crucial lifeline, and we were very excited to be early to market and make that process super fast.”
Usually, Intuit uses its annual user conference, QuickBooks Connect, to educate its community on new products and plans for the coming year. QuickBooks Connect did go ahead this year, but in a remote fashion, and only over one day instead of the usual five. But the remote (and free) event attracted a reported 39,000 attendees, whereas QBC live and in-person usually commands an audience of about 5,000.
Here are some product highlights from QuickBooks Connect 2020:
1. QuickBooks Online
The automated sales tax center automatically calculates the sales tax on invoices and receipts for review and filing. QuickBooks also lets small businesses know when their tax payment is due to help ensure taxes are filed on time, and the new automated sales tax center supports all of the sales tax jurisdictions in the U.S., with a team of QuickBooks sales tax experts reviewing and updating the rates every month to ensure accuracy. Tags allows a small business to label and track how they are spending their money. By tagging transactions inside QuickBooks, small businesses can create reports on any money-in and money-out transaction they want.
2. QuickBooks Online Advanced
The performance center within QuickBooks Online Advanced uses AI-driven learning models to give customers a topline view of how their business is performing through custom dashboard widgets with key performance indicators. This includes detecting trends and anomalies across revenue, expenses and profit. QuickBooks Online Advanced offers deeper third-party app integrations to help manage their business end-to-end as many growing companies rely heavily on different apps to manage their larger, more complex businesses. The goal is to make QBO Advanced into a single source of truth for mid-market small businesses.
Through QuickBooks Online Accountant and its accountant-only month-end review feature, accountants can create highly visual reports directly inside QuickBooks to help business owners better understand a report's content and take the mystery out of a report’s numbers. Accountants can also add comments on the reports to help describe the report’s information and customize a report’s look with the accountant’s and small business’ logos. Looking ahead, QuickBooks is looking to add more capabilities within month-end review to help accountants close their client’s books at the end of each month. One idea brought forward by accountants using QBOA is the ability to ask clients questions directly inside their QuickBooks file when more information, like a copy of a receipt, is needed to categorize a transaction.
4. QuickBooks Commerce
Launched in September, this product is a way to help product-based businesses grow. The platform is designed to help small businesses manage multiple online and in-store sales channels, better maintain inventory, and know which channels perform best from one central hub.
5. QuickBooks Payroll
In addition to being fully integrated into QuickBooks, QuickBooks Payroll is also available as a stand-alone, full service solution that can be used on its own. QuickBooks Payroll includes an integration with Tsheets for time tracking, access to the Payroll Tax Center through QBO Payroll; and access to additional small-business benefits such as 401(k) and human resources.