Intuit has been gauging interest among small businesses for an on-demand bookkeeping service called Live Bookkeeping and is expected to launch the service in the near future.
This has caused some consternation in the accounting world, sparking fears that Intuit is going into competition with its bread and butter — the community of accountants who serve small businesses, often with Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software. And specifically, the move raised fears that QuickBooks would compete with its own network of ProAdvisors.
We couldn’t find any formal announcements for the new service, but Accounting Today is reporting this week that Intuit contends that the service will actually create more business for its ProAdvisors.
The article quotes Rich Preece, U.S. Country Leader for QuickBooks, as saying, “We’re not competing with accountants. This [will] expand opportunities for ProAdvisors to work with small businesses,” Preece said. “We are incredibly fortunate to have very deep relationships with hundreds of accountants in the U.S. It would make no sense to start anywhere else.”
However, the article goes on to describe Live Bookkeeping this way: “Intuit Live Bookkeeping will allow accountants who are looking for other work options, or some flexibility, to find paid bookkeeping work — for instance, stay-at-home parents who want to work just a few hours a week; or a firm that wants to delegate two accounting staff to do live bookkeeping full-time via Intuit’s platform.”
This description provides some fuel for concerns that this move represents the Uber-ization of bookkeeping and will drive down rates and turn bookkeepers into yet another army of underpaid on-demand workers.
However, the article also points out that many businesses need an ongoing relationship with a bookkeeper or accountant who understands their business, making the notion of using a bookkeeper on demand for an hour here or there unattractive.
This video makes the case that change is inevitable in accounting and accountants need to provide higher value services in order to rise above automation, the gig economy and other trends challenging the profession.
We’ll keep an eye on this and write about further developments.