Accounting made simple

Rich Preece preferred.jpg

Intuit QuickBooks visited the shores of South Africa over the last week or two, and during their launch event in Cape Town, we managed to catch up with the vice-president, Rich Preece to get his thoughts on how their product will perform in South Africa.

Please give us an overview of the company Intuit QuickBooks?

Intuit has been around for 35 years and so we are very fortunate that we’ve been around for a long time. We have over 42 million customers and we do annual revenue of over $5 billion a year, so we have been fortunate to be very successful.

Now, we primarily in two different spaces, we have two jobs that we solve. One is tax and so in the US we have many millions of people who use our tax products and then outside of the US and in the US, we have a product called QuickBooks. QuickBooks is the number 1 accounting software in the globe, and so 7 million small businesses use QuickBooks to run their business, to create invoices, manage their inventory, to run payroll and so it lets that small business focus on the thing that they love, which is their actual business and QuickBooks is able to take of their accounting needs.

Now over the last few years, we’ve seen the cloud space where all the growth is. So all small business now seems to be looking for cloud accounting software and that is why we developed QuickBooks Online, it has been a real growth driver in our business in the last few years.

Technology is changing the way every business runs. How does your product make it easier for businesses to handle their accounting?

Technology is really driving so much innovation and so technology is really what’s allowing all of us to move up into the cloud, and there is so much more that we can do. For example, today when you use QuickBooks Online the first thing you are asked to do is connect the product to your bank account. Now, what that allows us to do is to see all of the transactions and categorise them as business expenses for your tax return, you don’t have to do that work anymore. We can also look across other businesses that look like you, we can look at successful business and we can make recommendations for your business that will make you more successful. We could never do that in the past without all of that data being the cloud, and so there is so much innovation that technology is driving and everyday, every week more and more things are coming from us and other companies like us.

In your own words, who is the target market for the product? Is it only small business?

There are really two target markets for the product. One and the primary one is certainly small businesses and again, a small business would buy QuickBooks because they are looking to manage their business more effectively, they are looking for most of the hard work of accounting to be done by us through the software so that they can focus on their business. Again, that might be invoicing, it might be payroll, it might be receivables, QuickBooks will give them a full visibility into their money in and money out. That’s what QuickBooks does and that is how we help small businesses.

The other customers we serve are accounting professionals. We know that many, many small businesses work with Accountants and in fact, our research shows that 89% of small businesses say that they are more successful when they do work with an Accountant and so we also build lots of tools, lots of products for accounting professionals to help them service their clients. So that is the other person we serve.

How secure is a person’s company data?

The short answer is, it is extremely secure. Let me explain why – clearly as a company that holds tens of millions of people’s tax information, their small business information, there is nothing more important to us than keeping that information safe, and so we actually work with banks, with other financial institutions to understand what the very latest in technology to keeps that data encrypted, keeps it safe and that’s the grade of technology that we apply. We literally spend 10s of millions of Dollars a year in this effort to ensure that this data is safe. I think that one of the benefits of us being such a large company with the revenues that we have, we can obviously invest in the most important things and for us keeping customer’s data safe, there is nothing more important.

What are the other benefits of working on the cloud?

The primary benefits of why people start using the cloud are a couple of things:

They can view their books; they can view their business anywhere, anytime. You can be on vacation, on a beach and can be looking at your mobile phone or tablet, and you can have access to your books. You can actually allow an account or somebody else, with your permission, to login to your books, they don’t have to be in your office, they can be anywhere in the world. Also, if for example you’re doing invoicing at a job site other than come back to your office, create an invoice and send it to the client. You can now on the go create an invoice and send it to the client. Basically it allows you anytime, anywhere access to your books. We understand that businesses now do not often take their jobs and their work to one place in an office. As a society we are mobile and online cloud computing and QuickBooks Online allows you to do all of those things.

Tell us more about yourself as Rich Preece and your history.

I have been with Intuit a little over 15 years. I currently lead our Accountant QuickBooks business, which is the global business and my job is to build those products and services for Accountants so that they can do the best possible job working with their client.

Prior to that, I actually lead Intuit’s European expansion and was based in London for 3 years, leading our European business and prior to that I have worked in many of our different business units including the tax businesses as well.

What drives me is a passion to find customer problems and then work with teams to solve those customer problems.

QuickBooks Online, is it a worldwide product?

It absolutely is. We actually have users in more than 206 countries and so truly it is a global product that has been adopted across the world.

While the South African market is very familiar with the product, it was the QuickBooks desktop version, and now that they are on the cloud, things have become a little more simplified.

Speaking to accountants at the event, they seemed to be in a very positive mood about the product, so if it is them working with it, who am I to disagree?









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