Has In­tuit en­tered book­keep­ing?

Accounting Today - - Technology - By Ran­ica Ar­row­smith

In mid-Fe­bru­ary, the Twit­ter world was set abuzz with ru­mors that In­tuit is en­ter­ing the book­keep­ing space. Some had no­ticed that on the pric­ing page for Quick­Books prod­ucts, a new of­fer­ing had ap­peared called “Live Book­keep­ing.” But In­tuit has de­nied the avail­abil­ity of the new prod­uct, say­ing the ap­pear­ance of this of­fer­ing was a test only avail­able to cer­tain web­site vis­i­tors, de­signed to mea­sure in­ter­est in such a ser­vice.

Ac­cord­ing to the new fea­ture, po­ten­tial clients would be able to ac­cess a live book­keeper for be­tween $205 to $350 per month, de­pend­ing on their needs. The place­ment of the of­fer­ing and the price ranges vis­i­ble changed over the course of a few days, which is most likely a part of the test In­tuit was run­ning. “Only a per­cent­age of po­ten­tial cus­tomers see the page; and if they see the page and click on ‘Buy Now,’ they get a mes­sage that thanks them for their in­ter­est and then they have the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide us with con­tact in­for­ma­tion as well as com­ments,” said a spokesper­son from In­tuit. “It’s all part of the test to un­der­stand small-busi­ness in­ter­est and be­hav­ior around see­ing this as an op­tion on our web­site when they con­sider pur­chas­ing Quick­Books On­line.”

Jen­nifer John­son of Ledger Light pro­claimed in a blog post, “I guess In­tuit has fi­nally ad­mit­ted that Quick­Books isn’t easy for non-book­keep­ers to use.” She wrote, “My ob­ser­va­tion is that small-busi­ness own­ers pur­chase [Quick­Books], fig­ure out that it is not easy to use, call peo­ple like me to clean up the mess, then hire me to do

the book­keep­ing go­ing for­ward.” This was a good thing for ac­coun­tants who pro­vided book­keep­ing ser­vices, like John­son. But if In­tuit en­ters the book­keep­ing space, too, that might un­der­cut book­keep­ers like John­son, and pos­si­bly cause book­keep­ers to con­tract their ser­vices out through the soft­ware gi­ant in­stead.

Blake Oliver, ac­count­ing tech­nol­o­gist for FloQast and for­merly a Xero Am­bas­sador, speak­ing on a re­cent pod­cast, sug­gested that the pric­ing struc­ture vis­i­ble in this test in­di­cates that In­tuit would not pay their live book­keep­ers fairly.

Not all ac­coun­tants were con­cerned, how­ever: CPA and QBOChat founder Cathy Ico­nis ar­gued that the pro­gram could ac­tu­ally in­crease the to­tal mar­ket for book­keep­ing ser­vices, not­ing that only 60 per­cent of QBO users have an ac­coun­tant at­tached to their ac­count, and sug­gest­ing that In­tuit would be ed­u­cat­ing mil­lions of small-busi­ness cus­tomers about the value of work­ing with an out­side ac­coun­tant. AT

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