It's January and you know what that means... Everyone is making predictions! We cover the best and worst predictions for the profession, and make some of our own. In this episode: Accountex USA is no more, what's next for blockchain, what's next for gadgets, what Millennials want from your firm, accounting trends that will shape 2020, critical issues facing the profession, what regulators are up to in accounting, AI predictions, creepy applications that will change your business, and how big tech is coming for fintech.
Jirav: www.jirav.comHi, this is Blake, and I just wanted to let you know that this episode of the Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Jirav, my employer. “Jirav” sounds a lot like “giraffe” — and that’s no accident. Giraffes are the tallest animal in the world. That gives them a great view. Our goal at Jirav is to give you a similarly great view of what’s going on with your business.
We do that by helping you understand where your business has been, and most importantly, predict where it’s going. Jirav connects your cloud-based accounting, payroll, CRM, and billing data together to automatically update shareable online dashboards, monthly reporting packages, and sophisticated financial plans and budgets in real-time. If you’re using Excel for reporting and forecasting, you’ll save hours every month with Jirav.
Learn how accounting firms are using Jirav to deliver connected insight, strategize growth, and help their clients make more profitable decisions. Visit jirav.com and start your 30 day free trial. That’s J-I-R-A-V dot com. See farther with Jirav.
- 00:38 – Looking back - how many 2019 predictions came true?
- 03:17 – Blake's first prediction for 2020 comes true less than a minute later ... Well, sort of ...
- 03:38 – Culling All Accounting Conferences – less definitely may start to be more! | Accounting Today
- 05:33 – Is there any value in free?
- 09:01 – Duh ... Overstating the obvious isn't really making a prediction | E27
- 09:31 – Dynamic pricing is just not a thing, at least not for the smaller players
- 11:09 – Hmm - is "used" the new "new"?
- 11:28 – What's going to have the biggest short-term impact on accounting? One hint: it's not humans | Journal of Accountancy
- 13:25 – Blockchain in 2020 - boom or bust? | Enterprise Times
- 14:50 – Armanino releases blockchain-powered app for instant attestation | Accounting Today
- 16:49 – Government still says no to crypto | Real Daily
- 19:58 – Everybody’s losing their minds over 5G! But, why? | The Verge
- 21:14 – Blake takes issue with 2020 being the breakout year for 5G – lack of speed isn’t the problem; lack of use is
- 23:25 – 2020 just might be the year of foldy, rolly, hidey devices ... Maybe
- 25:12 – 2020 sees the hiring of non-accounting grads at CPA firms continue | Journal of Accountancy
- 26:25 – Blake says it's going to take a good decade to create and implement the changes needed in the CPA exam and curriculum
- 27:49 – Want to stay relevant, and innovate? Pull your head out of last year! | LinkedIn
- 29:33 – Millennials might be so 2019, but they still have some decent asks when it comes to employment | Boomer.com
- 31:31 – Open banking in the US? Maybe in 2030 ... | Accountancy Today
- 33:19 – What's the most important issue facing the accounting industry? Here are at least 100 | Accounting Today
- 35:30 – Things are different all over - 2020 Accounting Changes from Down Under | Accountants Daily
- 37:42 – Automation - great for those with actual skills; not great for the not-so-great ...
- 37:55 – What do accounting regulators actually DO? | CFO Dive
- 40:17 – For your reading pleasure - 120 AI Predictions For 2020 | Forbes
- 42:17 – Speaking of Voice AI – 46 industry pros share their 2020 Voice AI predictions | Voicebot.ai
- 45:01 – VR will continue to make people nauseous in 2020
- 45:08 – Four (just four?) Creepy Applications That Will Change Your Business In 2020 | Inc.com
- 47:36 – Is Netflix going to be your next bank? | Banking Innovation
- 49:24 – The moment we've all be waiting for - David and Blake offer up their 2020 predictions! 🎉
- 49:30 – Nobody's staying in their lane! David says watch out for blurred, crossed, and muddied lines more than ever.
- 50:59 – According to Blake, 2020 is the year that one of the GL players - think QuickBooks, Xero, et cetera - becomes a bank.
- 52:28 – David's no-brainer prediction - Xero and Sage will have to launch their own version of Live product to compete with QuickBooks Live. Mark his word! (For the record, Blake disagrees)
- 54:24 – Podunk is not the proper nomenclature, David ... 😁
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Blake Oliver: The accounting regulators aren't really doing all that much. It's not that significant. We talked about this last week. The big thing they're gonna be working on over the next six months is deciding whether or not to allow public companies to amortize goodwill.
Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: And I'm David Leary.
Blake Oliver: This is our special 2020 predictions episode.
David Leary: Should we check back in on our predictions from 2019? [00:00:30] Do you remember yours?
Blake Oliver: Oh, I don't. I hope you don't call me out for making some bad predictions.
David Leary: I don't remember yours, but I remember mine. I predicted that it was gonna be the year of instant payments. We kind of saw that across the board. QuickBooks announced you could get paid within 24 hours. In many cases, you can get instant deposits now if you're … Instead of putting your bank routing numbers in, if you put your debit card number in, you can get an instant deposit, or instant payments back for vendors or customers. So, I think I'm gonna declare victory on instant payments.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I think you're right.
David Leary: Okay, good [crosstalk] It’s a wrap.
Blake Oliver: No, it's great. [00:01:00] Zelle is actually working really well; Venmo, Apple Cash. I can pay, pretty much, anyone with any app, although I have to have a variety of apps because we're not all using one app. Actually, we'll get into that as one of my predictions regarding fintech for 2020, so that's a good lead in.
David Leary: I think, actually, even the explosion of all these getting-paid-two days-early-type-payroll plays that are out there, right?
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah.
David Leary: People are getting paid faster than instant; they're [00:01:30] getting paid early. So, I'm gonna declare that prediction as a win. I'm glad I only made one prediction. It's harder to be wrong, right? It's a numbers game. Cool.
Blake Oliver: Well, so I'm actually going back right now to our old show notes from 2019 and looking and seeing if I made any predictions that came true or didn't. Let's see. My big prediction back in 2019 was that firms are going to have to figure out how to communicate with their clients and deliver really good customer service mobily. That [00:02:00] means letting your clients text you and being more responsive in that way. I'm wondering, did that come true? I don't know.
I haven't seen any surveys about that. I guess it's more of a long-term prediction, and it has to go with customer experience. Good CPAs, good accountants, bookkeepers have always focused on customer experience. The key now is just merging that responsiveness with technology moving forward. How can we meet our clients where they are? Whatever [00:02:30] tools they want to use, we need to be using.
David Leary: I'm gonna give you that you're right because we talked about this over … It was a theme of many episodes, not specifically about texting, but how you're communicating with your clients; how you're engaging your clients.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Don't send them this giant email when they ask a question. Give them your opinion in one or two paragraphs. If you go beyond that- nobody reads long emails. That's why texting can actually be good if you have a way to do it without having to pull out your own phone. If you have some sort of service [00:03:00] that can pull those in to a support ticket desk kinda thing. I don't know. The way that we can communicate with software companies, we should be able to communicate with accounting firms. There's software to do it, so people are gonna figure it out. I do have one prediction for 2020 right off the bat, David.
David Leary: What's that?
Blake Oliver: Which is that we have just way too many accounting conferences. Everybody's doing one now, and some of them just aren't gonna survive. We're gonna have a culling of the conferences.
David Leary: A culling?
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: Of [00:03:30] multiple?
Blake Oliver: Well, at least one. We're gonna lose at least one accounting conference this year, yep.
David Leary: All right, Blake. I'm gonna give you this one already.
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah?
David Leary: Accountex USA sent out an email yesterday. I don't know if you've checked your email, or if it's in your spam folder, but you're right. An accounting conference, Accountex USA, is not gonna do their 2020 event here in the United States. They'll still have their UK event, but they're not gonna do their event in the States.
Blake Oliver: That's crazy. I have to admit, I cheated. I saw that email before I made my prediction. Do you remember- [00:04:00]
David Leary: You could edit this in a way so nobody will know that.
Blake Oliver: Nobody will know, but I'm not gonna do that. I'm not that smart. So, credit where credit is due … It was surprising to me, although not so surprising, given the decline that that conference has had. It used to be SleeterCon. It was the Sleeter Group's conference, which was- my first conference was going to Sleeter, and it was great. It had some of the best content in the industry.
David Leary: That same goes for me. SleeterCon 2007 or something. I don't even remember how long ago. It was 2007 or 2006, but yeah, it was [00:04:30] a long time ago, and it's an end of an era. Doug Sleeter sold SleeterCon three years ago to the Accountex Group?
Blake Oliver: Diversified Communications. Yep. They're a giant company. They run a ton of conferences. He sold it to them, and they just destroyed it, it's sad to say. They ran it into the ground.
David Leary: It was interesting because they filled it with sponsors, though. I mean, you and I were there in Boston. We did some of those interviews, those episodes, but the attendees … There was almost more sponsors than attendees, and that was the struggle. I think there's this big argument with the conferences, [00:05:00] like, do you charge people, or do you not charge people? Because, in theory, you're like, "Don't charge anybody. You'll have so many people go. The vendors will be happy,” and just charge vendors, but I feel like people don't have skin in the game, so they don't show up.
Blake Oliver: No. Well, part of the problem is that XeroCon started, QuickBooks Connect started, and they made those conferences almost free; essentially, free, they're so cheap because they're marketing activities, in addition to being educational. Conferences at the level of a SleeterCon, or an Accountex just can't compete with that, so they had to go free as well, which then … [00:05:30] People don't value free, actually. They're more likely to go to a conference if you have to pay money because they know at least the sessions are gonna be educational and good, and it's not all pay to play by the vendors.
David Leary: You're right. I wouldn't be surprised … I feel like we've gone to the other shows that used to be owned by [inaudible] Management. Now they're owned by- is it Turpatin? They put on the Accounting Show- Accounting Show LA [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Terrapinn. Terrapinn, yeah.
David Leary: Terrapinn. I think they do the New York City Technology Show and the [00:06:00] LA Technology Show, and those are not very well attended either.
Blake Oliver: No, yeah.
David Leary: I wonder if they … They also do a Toronto one that, I guess, is decent, and I think they do one in Asia that has really good attendance. Maybe your prediction’s more of some of these shows are gonna pull out of the U.S.
Blake Oliver: What's happening is the best shows are becoming vendor-sponsored - XeroCon, QuickBooks Connect. The shows that used to be independent can't compete with that. People aren't gonna go to … People have limited time to go to conferences; most [00:06:30] small- especially smaller practitioners. You can't leave your business for more than one or two weeks a year to go to get CPE and go to these shows. So, who are you gonna go to, right? You're gonna go to the one- the GL tool that is doing the conference. Yeah, I think it'll just continue to happen. We're gonna have just vendor-specific events.
David Leary: I think I saw, either on Twitter … I feel like I haven't seen any confirmation of it, but that QuickBooks is not going to do a QuickBooks Connect in Sydney this year.
Blake Oliver: Yep.
David Leary: In lieu of that, apparently, [00:07:00] do more of the smaller roadshow-type events. You're right, maybe 2020's the year of … The way people think of conferences is being changed.
Blake Oliver: I wouldn't say it's a bad thing. It's that a lot of the stuff that used to happen at these conferences is moving online. People are engaging in Facebook groups a lot.
David Leary: You can get your CPE online now.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. You’ve got CPA Academy giving you all your CPE online, and you can get as much of it as you want, whenever you want. You've got podcasts like ours. This is something that has [00:07:30] developed over the last 10 years. Used to be you had to go in person to get this stuff, and now you can go online. In a way, it's just much more convenient.
David Leary: Yeah. I feel like the in-person part of it, the important part of this now of the conferences is not the training you go to get; it's just the connections, the physical- the hugs, and talking, and eating with somebody that you've chatted with every other day, virtually.
Blake Oliver: Yep.
David Leary: I feel like the conferences are more important than ever, but what the business model is and what the purpose of the conference is, I think, is what's being reinvented here.
Blake Oliver: I agree.
David Leary: It may not be solved in 2020. [00:08:00] It could take two or three years before whatever this new model of bringing people together is. Good one, Blake! Good prediction! I went through one, two, three, four, five, six, seven- about seven to 10 prediction blog posts that are out there - e-commerce, blockchain, tech gadgets, accounting things, audit, AI … Like 150 things in AI.
I don't wanna bring everything to the table, but what I did with each article, I just kind of went through and I'm like, "Oh, here's the "duh", obviously; that's [00:08:30] not much of a prediction;" something that I completely have no faith in like, "Yeah, right. That's never happening;" and then something that I didn't even think of.
So, we can kind of go through some of these and talk about these predictions. I know you have a couple articles and predictions of your own. Then, I will have my own predictions at the end of the show, if people wanna stay tuned for that. No skipping! No skipping!
Blake Oliver: Yeah, let's go through it. Let's go through it sort of by topic. Then, if our articles overlap in terms of topics, we can have a discussion.
David Leary: All right. Wanna tip-toe in the water [00:09:00] with an easy one for e-commerce?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, sure.
David Leary: All right. This is from a website called E27.co. It's “E-commerce trends: What to expect in 2020.” My "duh" one – one of their predictions is people will find your product and website via Google search.
Blake Oliver: Wait, isn't that what-
David Leary: That's one of the predictions.
Blake Oliver: - that people are gonna find you via Google search.
David Leary: Yes.
Blake Oliver: Okay. All right.
David Leary: That was a "duh", and then the "yeah, right" was dynamic pricing. [00:09:30] I just don't see dynamic pricing happening for most e-commerce players, right? It’s a bigger platform.
Blake Oliver: What do you mean by dynamic pricing? What is dynamic pricing?
David Leary: When you go to buy airline tickets, or hotels, or you have to book a hotel room, or you, yourself, when you shop on Amazon … You might see dynamic prices depending on who you are. I think, at a big platform level, this is gonna happen, but I don't see somebody who has their own website set up for selling their product online is gonna dynamically price things real-time for their visitors to their website. I just don't buy [00:10:00] that.
Blake Oliver: When you say dynamic pricing, you're saying that the price changes depending on who is going to the website and when they're going, right? Because I know that airlines have been doing this for a long time, where if you shop on the weekend for a ticket, you're gonna pay more than if you shop on a Wednesday in the middle of the day.
David Leary: And if you've visited the site before and your cookies. There's all kinds of stuff. I don't think smaller players are gonna do that. I think big platforms are doing it, but I just don't see that coming down the pipe there.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Well, you know where it should happen and where it could easily happen is that [00:10:30] as busy season approaches, frickin' raise your prices. If somebody comes to you in March, they should be paying a lot more than somebody who comes to you in January to get their tax return done in April. Everybody should do that.
David Leary: I think you're right, yeah. Then, the thing I didn't think of that I thought was interesting in this article was rental and "re-commerce" are gonna increase because there's so much sustainability push and then, ultimately, people just want lower prices. If you can get lower prices through buying something that's used, or possibly renting [00:11:00] something … I thought that was an interesting prediction that we're gonna see a big jump in used goods.
Blake Oliver: Well, and a great example of that, which we've talked about before, is Rent The Runway, which is that company that lets you rent high-end fashion; you'll wear it for one night and then return it, and they can get 25 rentals out of a single item or something.
David Leary: That was it for that article. That was my three things.
Blake Oliver: Okay.
David Leary: Do you wanna jump into one of yours?
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Let's talk about RPA - robotic process automation - a [00:11:30] big term in corporate America. In small business, we don't use the acronym so much. We just call it automation.
David Leary: Or we just call it Zapier.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, Zapier. Donny Shimamoto, he's the founder and managing director of Enterprise Technologies, and he's been a guest on the show. He said, in an article in the Journal of Accountancy called “What to Expect in 2020,” that, “RPA is the technology that will have the greatest short-term impact on accounting,” and that's because it could be used by management accounting, by audit, and by tax. [00:12:00] I really respect Donnie's opinion, so I'm just gonna go with him on this one and say RPA is gonna be the big thing this year. It's gonna continue to grow the most, probably, and have the most impact of any technology.
Like you said, for those who aren't familiar with RPA, Zapier is a great example of RPA connecting different systems and automating the flow of information; stuff that you might have had to key in manually before. There's also really sophisticated RPA software that are essentially like [00:12:30] macros that you would have in Excel but that can live outside of just a spreadsheet application. They can act like a person clicking a mouse and typing a keyboard, going in between apps. They use some artificial intelligence to be able to work like a human, follow detailed instructions, and kind of overcome some of the issues that an Excel macro couldn't. This is basically a more advanced version of that.
David Leary: It's the ability for the common folk to do automation. Before, an engineer would have to do it, and I think it's coming down [00:13:00] to a level where an average accountant or bookkeeper can automate some tasks now.
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah. We're doing that right now in marketing at Jirav. We're connecting our Google ads to HubSpot, our CRM, and we're using Zapier to automatically create contacts. That's something that, in the past, I would have had to go and manually enter all of those, and we don't have to do that anymore; fewer entry level people needed.
David Leary: Got it. Wanna talk blockchain?
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah, That was the big one for the past few years. It kind of hit the peak of the hype cycle, [00:13:30] and then it just fell off the radar, didn't it?
David Leary: I feel like we talked about it all the time towards the end of 2018, and then we barely talked about blockchain for all of 2019. I feel like we barely spoke about it. This article is in the Enterprisetimes.co.uk, “Blockchain 2020 – thoughts, comments and the future.”
Blake Oliver: What is gonna happen with blockchain because there was all this doom and gloom about how it was going to automate audit, and get rid of auditing, and all that stuff? Still gonna happen?
David Leary: That [00:14:00] was my "yeah, right". One of the predictions was, over and over again, the predictions were talking about, "This is the year of enterprise adoption. Enterprise is gonna adopt the blockchain." The words ‘enterprise adoption’ just kept coming up over, and over, and over, and over again, but it was a little gray, right? It was almost like [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Yeah, what are the actual applications of this?
David Leary: I don't know. It wasn't clear, but that was the safe prediction - enterprise adoption. If [00:14:30] any of the Fortune 500 use some sort of blockchain technology at all, people are gonna say they're right. That one, I was a little skeptical of because I feel like enterprise just takes so long to adopt anything.
Blake Oliver: There was one story last year that did catch my eye about blockchain and suggests that there is some progress being made in real-world applications. My old firm, Armanino, they created a tool called Trust Explorer 2.0. This was reported back in the end of October in Accounting Today. It's [00:15:00] an app that uses blockchain technology to provide a secure downloadable report which Armanino backs with its opinion. The idea is that if you can put it on the blockchain, then you can get an audit opinion from Armanino in seconds. That's kind of a cool application, right?
David Leary: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: It's not eliminating audit because Armanino built this tool, and they are backing it. So, if anything, it's allowing them to do an audit on a blockchain more efficiently.
David Leary: Then, [00:15:30] my "duh" was regarding currency. There's gonna be government regulation and pushback against it from governments. The governments are anti-coin. They really are, ultimately [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Yeah, because it's an existential threat to fiat currency. If people decide that Bitcoin, or whatever comes after Bitcoin, or some other cryptocurrency is safer than the U.S. dollar, the U.S. government loses a ton of power over the global economy.
David Leary: The U.S. government should just make their own Bitcoin [00:16:00] and the whole world just adopt it as a standard; it would be like that. That would be the smartest.
Blake Oliver: There was a great article last year that we never talked about suggesting exactly that, that if the Fed really wanted to be on the cutting edge, that they would create digital dollars, a cryptocurrency linked to the U.S. dollar that they controlled. It would give them amazing powers like the ability to infuse money, in a financial crisis; instead of loaning [00:16:30] tons of money to banks and hoping that banks loan money to businesses and stimulate the economy that way, they could actually create an account for every citizen-
David Leary: That’s true.
Blake Oliver: -and then infuse money directly into our accounts that way and skip the banks entirely, make the banks obsolete in that regard. They have, so far, just rejected any possibility of pursuing something like that.
David Leary: Then the thing in that article that I didn't think about or opened my eyes a little bit is this whole concept of Internet of Blockchain. Essentially, the Internet of Blockchain [00:17:00] communication - separate blockchains will start talking to each other.
Blake Oliver: Mm-hmm.
David Leary: That's something to think about.
Blake Oliver: Well, and continuing along with blockchain- I don't know if this is gonna happen in 2020; probably not; maybe over the next 10-20 years, but blockchain has the potential to disrupt Google's monopoly over information and could basically do … What the internet did to Microsoft, cryptocurrencies or crypto networks could do to Google, in that you have [00:17:30] this open database of information that doesn't get controlled by one algorithm or one source, such as Google. That's the potential long term of blockchain, if we're storing information beyond just financial information on a blockchain.
David Leary: Yeah, and I think that's one of the big problems with blockchain is this decentralized approach. The problem is we've grown … The whole history of the world is about centralizing power. The natural order of the world has never been about [00:18:00] equal distribution of power. Essentially, it's all centralized.
Blake Oliver: The problem with this theory that you can create a completely decentralized blockchain and have it succeed is there's a lot of hubris involved in that because that means that you've written it perfectly. That would be like imagine if the founders of our country had said, when they wrote the Constitution, that, “This Constitution can never be changed, and you can never amend it because it's perfect the way it is.” [00:18:30] In a lot of ways, that's what a blockchain algorithm is like, if you don't have ways for people to change it. Currently, the only way to change Bitcoin is to break off from the network and split the chain, which has happened before-
David Leary: Then, everybody wants people to use my Bitcoin; David's Bitcoin instead of Blake’s bitcoin, and it's like … Which is centralizing onto one chain.
Blake Oliver: That would be like if the only way to change the U.S. Constitution was for us to split into two countries and then, people have to decide which one they're gonna join. [00:19:00]
David Leary: That's what churches do, right? When churches wanna … They can't agree on a change, they just split the church [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Right!
David Leary: -believe the one set of beliefs, they go one way, and the other one … Yeah.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: Churches are blockchains.
Blake Oliver: I don't know. You need some sort of authority to manage a blockchain, I think, in theory, because it's not perfect, and there's gonna be changes that need to happen. That's one of the big problems with blockchain right now, is that if- or Bitcoin in particular, is if you make a transaction, and you screwed [00:19:30] it up, and let's say you sent money to the wrong wallet, or somebody steals money from you, there's no way to reverse those transactions. There's gotta be some sort of balance here. Can you have the protections of fiat currency that the banking system provides, while also having the flexibility, and openness of a blockchain? I think that's enough about blockchain, right? Should we-
David Leary: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: How about I pick the next one?
David Leary: Okay.
Blake Oliver: Let's talk about a trend that isn't going to impact us very much that … I don't know why people are talking about this so much - 5G. I keep hearing 5G, 5G [00:20:00] is the next big thing for mobile technology, right? We had 4G. I think everybody's on 4G right now, right? 5G is somehow gonna change the world with greater speed, and all this stuff.
David Leary: The next article I was gonna go to about, “What's Next for Gadgets in 2020,” and that was one of my "duh" - 5G phones are everywhere, but 5G networks are nowhere.
Blake Oliver: This, specifically, was called out as a big technology to expect in 2020 in the Journal of Accountancy. Rick Richardson was quoted, "2020 [00:20:30] will be a breakout year for 5G, as handset manufacturers begin to make a 5G chipset standard equipment."
Okay, so it's gonna make cellular data transfer as much as 100 times faster than current 4G networks, but how is that really gonna change accounting and auditing? I mean, my 4G phone is plenty fast to do what I need to do as an accountant, and I can do video chat and conferencing and all that stuff.
Here's another quote from the article, "Faster, more [00:21:00] efficient broadband connections are essential for the real-time data connections needed to power continuous auditing and KPI dashboards that provide live results and analysis." Tell me how 4G is not fast enough to do that right now. I mean, the problem isn't that we don't have enough speed; the problem is that people just aren't using the tools.
David Leary: I read that you can do cloud accounting from an airplane now, so ...
Blake Oliver: Right. Yeah, we've got satellite internet. When I fly Alaska Airlines going up to Seattle, I can get 20 megabits per second. That's plenty fast to do what I need to do.
David Leary: As [00:21:30] an accountant [crosstalk] bookkeeping type stuff.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, 5G has big potential for self-driving cars, and all that stuff, but we're talking about accounting, auditing, bookkeeping.
Hi, this is Blake. This episode of The Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Jirav, my employer. Jirav sounds a lot like "giraffe" – and that's no accident. Giraffes are the tallest animal in the world. That gives them a great view. Our goal at Jirav is to give you a similarly great view of what's going on with your business.
We do that by helping you understand where your business has been and, most importantly, predict where it's going. Jirav connects your cloud-based accounting, payroll, CRM, and billing data together to automatically update sharable online dashboards, monthly reporting packages, and sophisticated financial plans and budgets in real time. If you're using Excel for reporting and forecasting, you'll save hours every month with Jirav.
Learn how accounting firms are using Jirav to deliver connected insight, strategize growth, and help their clients make more profitable decisions. Visit Jirav.com and start your 30-day free trial. That's J-I-R-A-V dot com. See farther with Jirav.
David Leary: This is in the magazine called- or website called theverge.com. “Here's What's Next for Gadgets in 2020.” Yes, 5G phones is one of the "duh" that's everywhere. Then, somebody in that article predicted that the streaming TV wars are gonna be here. Come on, how hard was that? [00:23:00]
Blake Oliver: It's already here.
David Leary: It's so obvious. It's here. That was a really obvious one. The thing I didn't really think of a lot is – it's two words – folding and rolling. You're gonna see screens, phones, tablets, TVs- TVs that roll. Think about shutters.
Blake Oliver: Roll up?
David Leary: They'll go up out of a box on your table, or they'll pull out of your ceiling. Screens are gonna be folding and rolling this year. We’re gonna see that.
Blake Oliver: Okay. I mean, we had the whole folding [00:23:30] screen fiasco last year with that phone from- was it Samsung that tried to do the folding phone that didn't work? It kept breaking.
David Leary: That was just one phone.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: We're gonna see hundreds; hundreds of devices that fold and roll this year.
Blake Oliver: Interesting.
David Leary: You’re gonna see … That's gonna be everywhere. That's gonna be a big one. Then, the "yeah, right," was a lot of predictions about this is the year of smart home security. My "yeah, right" about that is most- every time you turn around, those smart home security devices, [00:24:00] Ring doorbells, et cetera, are getting hacked.
Blake Oliver: Oh.
David Leary: It seems crazy. You're gonna bring in a "security device" that’s more hackable than any other device in your house. It's the most hackable device.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: Nobody can hack your toaster yet; nobody can hack your refrigerator; but they can hack your doorbell.
Blake Oliver: I'm okay with having the doorbell; just don't be stupid and use a very hackable password on your doorbell. I would never put a smart security camera in my home, like a Ring security camera. I just … That's beyond … [00:24:30] I'll do a smart speaker, that's okay, but a security camera? No way.
David Leary: Yeah, I just don't buy- I think the tech nerds are gonna buy that smart security stuff. There's gonna be enough hacks, but I think the average person's just gonna get creeped out by it and not do it. I just don't see the explosion of smart home security yet because there's a fundamental flaw that those devices need usernames and passwords; they're calling home on the internet; they're connected to Wi-Fi.
There has to be a smart home security that's not connected … Maybe that's where 5G comes in? I don't know, but they're fundamentally [00:25:00] flawed. A security device is fundamentally flawed if it's dependent on your username and password, which everybody knows your username and passwords suck.
Blake Oliver: Let's talk about practice management. That topic also covered in the Journal of Accountancy's 2020 predictions article. The trend toward hiring non-accounting graduates at CPA firms is expected to continue, as firms seek the expertise of technology specialists. We've discussed before how non-accounting graduates consisted approximately [00:25:30] of 31 percent of all new graduate hires in public accounting in 2018, which is an increase of 11 percentage points over 2016. Dramatic change there. That is expected to continue.
The CPA license exam curriculum in schools has not, thus far, adapted to the new reality of what it means to be a CPA firm, so non-accounting graduates are needed. We need skills beyond accounting. Now there is that cpaevolution.org project going on [00:26:00] at the AICPA to change the curriculum, but I am not predicting that's gonna happen any time soon. They're still collecting commentary. I don't think that's expected to complete …
The proposal- The draft proposal for the changes is gonna happen this year, but that's just the proposal. Then, there's the years and years of actually making the change happen with the exam, and then there's the years and years of actually making the curriculum change happen, so that might be a 10-year kinda thing. Expect to see more non-accounting graduates in CPA firms [00:26:30], and really good career opportunities if you are a CPA who learns those skills that are missing from the license right now.
There's a quote from a firm in Chicago, Lauterbach & Amen, LLP. It's a mid-sized firm. They have decided that one in every four new hires needs to come from outside the traditional recruiting target population of accountants and CPAs. The non-traditional recruits are sought for their technology and data analytics expertise and also for skills such as project management, financial services, [00:27:00] and forecasting. They have made that a deliberate recruiting goal is to make sure–
David Leary: I am now the perfect accounting firm candidate.
Blake Oliver: Oh, you are, yeah, if you wanted to go do that to yourself.
David Leary: I am not from the traditional background in any way, shape or form, but I am the ideal candidate of 2020 for accounting firms.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, exactly. Although, accounting firms are notoriously ageist when it comes to hiring staff, so you might be out there. They only want those fresh-
David Leary: I'm too old?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, basically. They want the fresh college graduates who [00:27:30] don't know any better and are willing to work 60 to- hours a week for no overtime.
David Leary: Oh, all right. Well, all right. You smashed my dreams for 2020, I guess [crosstalk] I have an accounting-related one-
Blake Oliver: You don't wanna fill out a time sheet do you, David?
David Leary: No [inaudible] time clocks. I have an accounting-related one, as well.
Blake Oliver: Okay.
David Leary: This is a blog post on LinkedIn, “The Accounting Profession and Accelerating Technology - the End to Many Firms?” My "duh" of the article was "the profession does not like change". I [00:28:00] was like, "Really? That was kind of obvious." My "yeah, right", and I'm gonna read this straight out, "The combination of big data and machine learning is driving a plethora of new data analytics tools that, frankly, can be used by anyone. Therein the issue, the do-it-yourself threat.” I think that's "yeah, right" because the do-it-yourself threat's been there for 25 years already with QuickBooks, et cetera. I don’t-
Blake Oliver: And TurboTax, right?
David Leary: This "used by anyone" is just crap.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: I just don't buy that. The [00:28:30] thing I liked about that article, though, is he used an acronym that I thought was really cool. It probably applies really well to accounting firms is see the risk of SALY - S-A-L-Y - mindset, and that's ‘same as last year.’
Blake Oliver: Yeah, well, because if you keep doing it the same as last year, you're never gonna change.
David Leary: I've never really seen that referenced as a mindset- or as an acronym, so I kind of like that one, going forward.
Blake Oliver: It's a great analogy, or acronym that represents the mindset of the profession because it's [00:29:00] how accountants learn to work. When they go into a firm, this is how you learn. You look at what happened last year, and you're instructed to copy it and only make changes if necessary because that's the easiest thing to do. That way … People don't learn. They keep repeating bad processes. It's endemic to the profession because that's the way we learn to learn.
David Leary: Let's stay on accounting. I have one or two other articles we could jump in. I don't know if you have any more accounting predictions?
Blake Oliver: I do have [00:29:30] some more predictions. Let's see here. Let's talk about millennials. There was a lot of chatter about millennials over the last couple years, and 2019. I think we have hit peak millennial content, or topic, or derision. It's kinda over, so hopefully this will be the last time we talk about this.
This was an article by Jim Boomer on the Boomer Consulting Blog, “Four Things Millennials Want From Your Firm.” I liked how he talked about flexibility. That was one of the things that he said millennials [00:30:00] want. In recent years, millennials have become the face of the shift toward remote work. In a survey from American Express, 70 percent of millennial workers in the U.S. indicated that they want their work environment to be "flexible and fluid" rather than enforcing a rigid structure on employees.
Flexibility offers several benefits for employers, blah, blah, blah. Basically, the 8 to 5 office hours don't work with millennial employees, and firms should be offering more flexibility. So, offer some core hours; don't [00:30:30] require people to be in 8 to 5; maybe you do 10 to 3; let them start later or leave earlier. Hey - and I'm adding this -maybe don't even require them to come into the office every day. Don't focus on overtime hours, focus on results. That's gonna continue to be something that firms have to change. They have to become more flexible.
David Leary: That makes sense.
Blake Oliver: Maybe that's kind of a "duh" thing at this point, David. I felt like Jim Boomer [00:31:00] expressed this very well; in addition to some other things, like, we need more stimulating office space, a sense of community. The last thing is the ability to not have to wear a suit every day to the office; let them dress flexibly for their job.
David Leary: Yeah, with their torn up jeans or their- what's it called? Fast fashion!
Blake Oliver: Fast fashion?
David Leary: Fast fashion is the … It's like fast food but clothes, right?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, exactly.
David Leary: This is an article from Xero that was in the accountancytoday.co.uk. It's, “Four Accounting [00:31:30] Trends That Will Shape 2020.” The "duh" was pesky data entry will be gone. I'm like, "Yeah, it kind of already is." You put everything through Receipt Bank, AutoEntry, or Hubdoc, and you're not actually doing-
Blake Oliver: You could do that five years ago. It's just getting better and better, yeah.
David Leary: My "yeah, right" was open banking. Okay, I'll give it credit. Yes, open banking in the UK and AU, for sure, but in the U.S., we're not seeing open banking [00:32:00] in 2020.
Blake Oliver: No.
David Leary: If we see it by 2030 … We'll be celebrating if we see true open banking in this country. It's gonna take a long time to get here.
Blake Oliver: It's gonna take legislation, and that's what they have in Europe. The EU has a law called PSD2, which is like GDPR for payment data. It forces banks- large banks have to make consumer data available to any fintech, which the consumer permissions.
That would be like Bank [00:32:30] of America- I, as a customer of Bank of America, could say, "Bank of America, you have to make all of my banking data available to Venmo." That's a big deal, and it would take a law here in the U.S. for that to happen. We can expect to see payments and banking get more and more advanced in Europe. Maybe that'll stimulate regulators here to make changes, or lawmakers, even.
David Leary: That part of that post that I didn't really think of or I wasn't aware of - it's a little specific because it deals with Brexit – but it's Brexit will essentially cause cashflow pains [00:33:00] for small businesses and clients, and they're gonna need help to address that. If you have the opportunity to come in as the adviser and understand how to solve those problems … But there are gonna be new problems that didn't exist before strictly because of Brexit.
Blake Oliver: This is sort of like a predictions article. It's about the critical issues facing the accounting profession. Accounting Today asked their Top 100 Most Influential People, including you and me, David-
David Leary: Oh!
Blake Oliver: What is the most important issue currently facing the accounting profession? [00:33:30] Then, they took all those responses, which I didn't realize were gonna become public - I thought that was just part of the application - and posted them for everyone to see on a blog, and it's a lot-
David Leary: I hope I gave a good answer.
Blake Oliver: Actually, yeah, I didn't read yours. Let me go check it out. Let's see what David wrote. You said, "The struggle to show clients the value that they, as professionals, provide. As more hourly billable work gets automated to the point in which there isn't much left to bill for, clients are gonna start asking, “What am I paying you to do if it's all being done automatically?" That [00:34:00] was your top critical issue facing the accounting profession.
I said- I just kept mine very short, "As with many jobs in America, and around the world, automation is the biggest threat." I didn't read every single response. It’s 100 responses. It's a giant article. So, to automate that, I made a word cloud of the keywords that people used in their responses to see if there are any trends.
David Leary: You just created our cover art this week
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: That's gonna save me some work [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: I’m gonna save you some work here.
David Leary: I can just use that as our cover art. Amazing. Perfect. [00:34:30]
Blake Oliver: Here are the top words. Technology was the most frequent word; then change; then clients; then tax, audit, talent; and then a bunch of other ones – management, models, partner, processes, people, succession, value, future, compliance, consulting data, automation, advisory, adapt.
You get a feel there, though, especially with those top words - technology, [00:35:00] change, clients, tax, and audit … Technology is changing how we work with clients is how I would stitch those together, when it comes to the world of audit and tax, most specifically. That's the trend. It's not just us saying that, right? That's the Top 100 Most Influential, according to Accounting Today.
David Leary: Good, good, good. I have two more accounting-related ones, and then we can get back into fun things like creepy applications, and the such.
Blake Oliver: All right, cool.
David Leary: This is out of theaccountantsdaily.com.au. It's an article from [00:35:30] Down Under. It's, “Further Changes Expected in Accounting in 2020.” My "duh" in that article was that accountants will have more available to them than ever before. My "yeah, right" was that clients want to be inspired and led by their accountant. Do you buy into that?
Blake Oliver: Clients want to be inspired and led by their accountant? Uh, no … I think clients want an accountant who will be responsive, who will get them the information they need, give them the opinion [00:36:00] that they want. I don't want to be inspired and led by my doctor; I want my doctor to tell me what I need. That's different. I come to them with a problem, and I want them to give me the options, and tell me what they recommend.
David Leary: Yeah. I felt like this would be the dream as an accountant, "All my clients come to me for inspiration," like that would be the … I just don't buy it, yeah.
Blake Oliver: That's not for accountants; that's for business coaches. That's the whole coaching industry. Accountants [00:36:30] should not be coaches. It's a totally different mentality and personality. It's not for us. If you're an accountant who likes to do coaching, you're in the wrong business. You should be doing something else.
David Leary: One thing I liked about this article, it got really specific about how accountants will survive "the media extravaganza that AI and bots will replace your job," but really, the belief is while technology will do the heavy lifting, it doesn't mean that accountants will work less. The accountants will still have work to do, it's just the [00:37:00] heavy lifting's gonna be done by AI and bots, et cetera.
Blake Oliver: Well, it's like that Google algorithm that's now checking out mammograms and does a better job than doctors. It's going to allow radiologists, the good radiologists, like the top 50 percent, those above the average, to do more because now they can use the algorithm to check their work, and we can basically get rid of all the crappy radiologists, right?
Same thing with accounting. You can get rid of the crappy accountants, and the ones who are really good can do double the work, or triple the work … In my case, [00:37:30] it was four or five times the bookkeeping work that I could do before.
David Leary: It’s amazing.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, so it's really good for some people; the people who are listening to this podcast, most likely, right? But it's not gonna be good for the people who aren't.
David Leary: I have one more last accounting one, then we'll get into some fun, crazy stuff like creepy applications, and AI, and voice, and all that type of stuff. This is an article in cfodive.com, and it's, “Regulators Eye Accounting, Audit Changes for 2020.” To be honest, Blake, I read this article, and I looked at it, and I looked at it, and there [00:38:00] was nothing I could form an opinion of like "duh," or "yeah, right," or "I didn't think of that." I was just … I'm not saying it was a pointless article, I just struggled with it.
Blake Oliver: That makes sense to me because the accounting regulators aren't really doing all that much. It's not that significant. We talked about this last week - the big thing they're gonna be working on over the next six months is deciding whether or not to allow public companies to amortize goodwill on [00:38:30] their balance sheet over a period of time rather than having to do a valuation every single year, and then decide if goodwill is impaired. This is just not important stuff, if you ask me. I mean, hey, I'm not a Big Four accountant guy, and I've never audited big public companies, but it kinda seems like they could be working on some more important stuff.
This is the reason why accounting has become less and less important, when it comes to investors. We've made accounting complex. [00:39:00] We've made GAAP four or five times more complex than it used to be over the last few decades, and it doesn't provide, really, that much more useful information. It's just all kind of meaningless. I feel like that feeling you got, when you read this article, is the feeling we should all get when we look at what FASB is doing. It's just a bunch of people who love GAAP making the rules more and more complex. I think the people at FASB are the people who like to play those really complicated strategy board games that take five hours to play.
David Leary: Like the Settlers of [00:39:30] Catan and those types of games.
Blake Oliver: Oh, Settlers of Catan is just entry level, man. We're talking Axis & Allies … These games with 10,000 pieces and stuff like that like; a giant rule book … That's the kind of people running FASB.
David Leary: That sounds boring. Let's do some fun things.
Blake Oliver: I hope I didn't piss off any of our listeners here, but if you disagree with me- if you think that the work that FASB is doing is valuable and is making a difference in the world, let me know.
David Leary: All right. This is like a pick your poison - voice, virtual [00:40:00] reality, creepy applications, AI, fintech. What do you wanna jump into?
Blake Oliver: What about AI?
David Leary: AI, okay. Voice AI, or just AI, in general?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, include voice in there; AI, in general, yeah.
David Leary: All right. We'll try to jump on both. Okay, so I have an article from Forbes. This is, “120 AI Predictions for 2020.” So, 120 predictions, right? I kinda had to really summarize the theme of this article to some extent. Chatbots are everywhere; that's [00:40:30] the "duh". Yeah, duh - every website you go to there's a chatbot, these days.
The "yeah, right" - this one I thought was really interesting. In 2020, AI will dramatically improve the employee experience. The ability to automatically and instantly collect data from across multiple channels, analyze it, and provide actionable insight that will enable support agents to more quickly, easily, and accurately address customer inquiries that come to highly satisfactory issue resolution.
Blake Oliver: That's a big, bold claim.
David Leary: The reason I think [00:41:00] it's "yeah, right" because if all of these things were working correctly, and collecting data, and speaking correctly, you, as the customer, wouldn't need to contact anybody because you'd have access to the data, and you'd get your answer already.
Blake Oliver: Right.
David Leary: Right? This is total crap, so that one I didn't buy. The thing I didn't think of, which I thought was interesting is, right now, we live in this world where – we talk about it all time – there's apps, right? People are buying apps, and software, but the prediction here is they'll just buy the AI - one small piece of software, or logic, [00:41:30] or AI that detects one small thing, like, maybe when a toaster's gonna break. You're just gonna buy that one teeny micro sliver; it's not even an app, it's just a piece of AI. I thought that was interesting that we're gonna start seeing AI for sale at that level.
Blake Oliver: AI for niche applications versus some AI that's gonna be able to understand a million things? That actually goes to voice AI, right? Our smart speakers in our home … We've talked before about how they're really dumb, and people are just [00:42:00] using them for playing music and setting timers. It hasn't gotten good enough to where people can actually have a conversation. You have to know specific commands. It's gonna take longer than 2020 to make this work well.
David Leary: Well, I have an article about, “Voice AI 2020 Predictions from 46 Voice Technology Experts.”
Blake Oliver: Is it gonna get good? Is my Alexa actually gonna become smart?
David Leary: Okay, so, I don't know. One of the things was voice will dominate search in the car. It's like, [00:42:30] "Yeah, of course," right?
Blake Oliver: How else are you gonna search?
David Leary: That wasn't much of a prediction, right? So, that was kind of an easy one. The "yeah, right", so do you know who Jony Ive is?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, the former chief designer at Apple, right?
David Leary: Legendary designer, now, right? In the grand history of the world designer, right? Designed the iPhone, designed the MacBook Pro, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera … Well, the prediction is that the Jony Ive of voice will emerge, and voice UI will be amazing this year.
Blake Oliver: I think that is not gonna happen this year. [00:43:00] It's just too much of a [crosstalk] gap. That's the thing, for voice AI to get better … I mean, I can't even ask good follow-up questions of my Alexa. I had a conversation with her this morning. I think I asked her to repeat something that she had just said, and she couldn't do it. She's like, "I don't know what you're talking about … " Like, "You forgot the conversation we were just having?"
David Leary: This is the prediction that could help you with this. There was one prediction that I saw that I was like, "This is genius. Why didn't I think of [00:43:30] that?" is you get to teach your own device. Instead of, right now - we talked about this in the past - recordings of what you ask Alexa are going off to India, the Philippines, or some other countries. Somebody's listening to that and then trying to teach the device what you tried to talk to the device about, Blake. What if you could just teach the device? Like you were talking about a couple weeks ago, you wanna turn the lights on in your hallway but not your living room. If you could just have some control and teach your own device about the context in your house-
Blake Oliver: That would be great.
David Leary: -that, I think, is a very interesting prediction in 2020 that we can actually teach [00:44:00] our stupid devices the things we need them to know because you really only need to teach them five or six things, and then you'll be super-happy with that device.
Blake Oliver: Well, that would be a much more amazing experience because I've talked about … I control my lights with my Amazon Alexa in the house. I had to go and program every single light into my phone and then set specific names for every device in my phone before I could actually use any of the voice commands. I should be able to just set that up via voice. I should say, "Alexa, this light over here is called this," and [00:44:30] it should just walk me through it in a conversation.
David Leary: Maybe that's something that these big companies are missing on, like people need to be able to … Maybe the pendulum's gonna swing back to you get to control your tech devices here a little bit more and not depend on these other companies to control your tech.
Blake Oliver: We're running out of time here today. I think you said, David, that you had some predictions, in addition to what we just talked about?
David Leary: Yeah. Let me just scan, really quickly, these last articles, and make sure there's nothing I don't wanna miss out on. Nothing exciting in VR, I don't think.
Blake Oliver: No, continue to [00:45:00] make people throw up; that's what it will do … At least me, anyway.
David Leary: Yeah. The one thing I liked- this was on Inc.com. This was an article from Gene Marks, “Four Creepy Applications That Will Change Your Business in 2020.” The "duh" was apps that track your field salespeople, and I'm like, "Yeah, of course. Field service apps have been out there tracking the field service people for years," right?
Blake Oliver: Gene said that because his firm implements CRM systems.
David Leary: The "yeah, right" is there's software [00:45:30] that watches how your employees are using apps, and that's gonna suggest better ways for them to use them. I just see a rebellion happening internally at companies; tracking every single click I'm doing in every single app and then reporting that up to management - that seems kind of ridiculous.
Blake Oliver: With the new California privacy law, in California anyway, or if you have employees in California, you have to tell employees that you're tracking them and what you are tracking.
David Leary: Yeah, we talked about that in the last episode. The thing I liked about this article, or that I didn't think of fully, is this concept of augmented writing, and [00:46:00] it really makes sense. If you think about it, first, we had spellcheck; then we had autocorrect; and now, keyboards are doing words suggestions; to the next level of communication suggestions … Like you start your paragraph, it knows where you're headed, and it just finishes the paragraph for you. It's augmented writing.
Blake Oliver: This is one of the best AI implementations that has helped me in the last year. Do you use Gmail, David?
David Leary: No, not regularly.
Blake Oliver: Okay. This is now in Gmail. If I'm typing in Gmail and I've enabled this feature, it will, [00:46:30] as I'm typing, in a lighter gray text ahead of my cursor, suggests the end of my sentence.
David Leary: Wow!
Blake Oliver: More often than not, I can just hit tab and it finishes my sentence for me. The more that I do that, the more it learns how I like to finish my sentences. Often, I can just type a few words, especially if it's a welcome, or the beginning of the email, or the end of the email where it's pretty standard, and it just knows what I want to say, and I just hit tab.
On the mobile device, they've also got these quick responses. At [00:47:00] the bottom of every email, instead of having to hit reply and then type my response, I get three choices. I can say … It'll say like, "Okay, thanks, or I'll be right on that," stuff like that. Like short answers to questions. I can just hit that button, and it sends email without reply. Google's already doing this, and it's really good-
David Leary: So, we're gonna see this more mainstream this year.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: That's actually exciting. It's one of the more interesting things I saw. I have three more articles, but there's not really any major takeaways. The one that really made me say, "Hmm" and that probably affects our industry a lot is … [00:47:30] There's a [inaudible] talking about how about how big tech is coming for banking. Experts are predicting fintechs 2020. The interesting one I saw was this concept of other players getting into fintech that we would never think of. The example they brought up was Netflix.
Blake Oliver: Netflix and fintech.
David Leary: Netflix is already producing movies and television shows. They're writing big, huge checks for [00:48:00] $40-$50 million dollars for a movie or a TV show, whatever they're purchasing, right? They could just pay all the subcontractors. They could just create their own accounting and payroll system for subcontractors and manage the whole process. I was like, "Ohhhh … "
Yes, we're gonna see more players. I think we talked about that once this last year. Everybody wants to be a bank. That's another example of this. Netflix could actually just circumvent all these other players in the middle and just start paying. "Oh, you have actors. We're gonna pay your actors [00:48:30] and actresses, too, and the sound guy, and the editor, and everybody else down the whole chain." They'll build, and track, and they'll create some ecosystem-funnel app to do all this.
Blake Oliver: Your average consumer doesn't want to have to open up a bunch of different apps to do finance activities. They want it in one place. They want consolidation. That's why you see Facebook trying to do Libra, and you see Apple doing Apple Cash.
We're gonna see more and more of our phones, the social media embedding [00:49:00] finance into those apps because that's where people wanna do it. I love it. If I need to send money to my father-in-law, I just open up a text message, and I send him the cash in the text message because we're both on Apple devices. It goes straight from my Apple Cash balance, or from my credit card, or bank account, to him.
David Leary: That's a perfect transition into my prediction. I'm gonna give my prediction for this year.
Blake Oliver: Okay. What's your prediction?
David Leary: My prediction is the lines are going to get blurred [00:49:30] and crossed more than they ever have. Examples of this is, you have Bill.com, right? Bill.com, historically, has always been payments. Now they have some AR involved; but they've gone public. They gotta keep growing. So, maybe they have a Bill.com credit card come out. Receipt Bank; they have a Receipt Bank purchase card that comes out. Maybe QuickBooks launches a credit card; maybe Practice Ignition now gets into practice management. A lot of the credit card players, or spending [00:50:00] card type players, they're getting into bill payment now.
Everything's getting very gray, and I think you're gonna see this- more competition than ever because people aren't staying in their lanes anymore because they wanna keep growing, so they keep adding more features. I think, with that, you're gonna see more competition than ever. I don't think the competition's just gonna be for these apps. I think you're gonna see competition for QuickBooks and Xero at levels. I mean, we've talked about Square in the past … I think some of these other apps they're gonna … If you're owning the workflow of all the inbound payments, and [00:50:30] the expenses, well, just add GL, and now you're a competitor to QuickBooks. I think you're gonna see competition at a level we have not seen before, and it could actually help prices, right?
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah.
David Leary: It could help drive prices down. I don't think it's gonna be a QuickBooks versus Xero world. It's going to be a QuickBooks and Xero versus everybody else world type of thing. I'm not saying that they'll be a team, but I think it's a different world. QuickBooks and Xero are gonna have to not focus on each other, and they're gonna have to focus on 40 other companies.
Blake Oliver: Interesting. My prediction for this year is that either [00:51:00] QuickBooks or Xero, one of the GL apps - or maybe Square … I mean Square's essentially already done it - is gonna create a bank. They're gonna become a bank. I could totally see Intuit doing this, where when you sign up for QuickBooks, you get a bank account, and it's already integrated, and it's integrated to the point where it's just perfect. You get all the information you could possibly want out of that bank feed because it's integrated, and Intuit partnered [00:51:30] with a bank that does it, or it's gonna be Xero who does that or something.
David Leary: Yeah, because then all the data just moves perfectly. Kind of like, right now, with QuickBooks Merchant Account Services, right?
Blake Oliver: Right.
David Leary: People like that and pay a little more for it than they do standard services because the data just gets in QuickBooks. You don't have to ever think about. It's perfect.
Blake Oliver: Well, and QuickBooks is already offering loans, so why wouldn't they wanna have access to the data at an even more granular level? It's so sticky, too. Once you have somebody using your banking services … I don't know, [00:52:00] it just seems natural to me. I mean, if they're gonna go to the trouble of doing QuickBooks Live, it seems like a fintech partnership like that would be natural, too.
David Leary: Yeah, and you're right. Maybe as more players try to become more like QuickBooks and Xero, QuickBooks and Xero are like, "Okay. That's fine, but we're gonna go play in a new pool. We're gonna go become banks too," right? To stay a step ahead of all this competition … That's true, that's coming on.
Then, the easy one, and you can title this to the episode if you want - Xero and [00:52:30] Sage will have to launch some sort of Xero Live or Sage Live type product to compete with QuickBooks Live. Mark my word - that will happen in 2020. It has to happen.
Blake Oliver: I disagree with you on that one. We're gonna agree to disagree, I think. I feel like it's a competitive advantage now for Xero, and for Sage. Why would they then … If they can use this to peel off accountants from Intuit, use it. Don't become like Intuit then. It's a differentiator.
David Leary: What if QuickBooks uses it as their differentiator against Xero in Australia? I mean, it's free, "Hey, you get [00:53:00] a free bookkeeper with your QuickBooks in Australia," to go after market share.
Blake Oliver: They might. I mean, they did that whole, like, making QuickBooks almost free, it was so cheap, right?
David Leary: Yeah, it's like 10 bucks or something, yeah. I think it's super-super-cheap there, yeah.
Blake Oliver: That could be. I don't know. It's different. See, this is the thing that these big companies sometimes fail to understand is that these markets are very different. Australia and New Zealand, business owners are much more likely to go work with an accountant when they start their business; whereas here, entrepreneurs are [00:53:30] much more like go it yourself, do it alone, kind of do-it-yourselfers, and it's a very different mentality.
That's why the accountant channel in Australia and New Zealand is so important, and here, it's not, for selling software. Here, you can go direct, and that's what Intuit has done for a long time, and the ProAdvisor channel is really secondary to them. That's why they can do QuickBooks Live and not threaten their major business because their real customers are business owners, their major customers. I'm not saying that … Obviously, it's a huge [00:54:00] business, and accountants are important to that business, but not as important as the business owners.
David Leary: In summary, I think our predictions are … Yours is one of the big GLs – Square, or QuickBooks, or Xero – is going to become a bank.
Blake Oliver: Or maybe one of the banks buys one of the GLs and integrates it, right? We're gonna have that fusion of fintech and accounting software.
David Leary: I mean, banks are buying some of these little podunk … Podunk's not the right word … Some of these cloud-accounting [crosstalk] that are out there, that-
Blake Oliver: Yeah, these are potential sponsors, David …
David Leary: But some of these ones [00:54:30] that nobody's heard of, right? Even you and I don't even know the names of some of these cloud-accounting packages that have been purchased by banks, so banks are doing that. I think that the prediction is a major thing's gonna go down; a very major shift in this will happen.
Blake Oliver: I wouldn't be surprised. Awesome. Well, this was a really great, fun episode. If people wanna get in touch with us and complain, comment …
David Leary: Send us your predictions.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, send us your predictions. You can reach me on Twitter. I'm @BlakeTOliver, or you're [00:55:00] welcome to email me at Blake@blakeoliver.com.
David Leary: I'm on Twitter as well, @DavidLeary, and you always can email me, but Twitter's the best. People have to get to their point.
Blake Oliver: That's right. If you want to do us a huge favor, leave a review. Where can people give us a review, David?
David Leary: If you're on Apple, you're an Apple person, you can go to Apple Podcasts and do reviews there. For everybody else who is not an Apple person, you can go to Podchaser.com and leave reviews there. Those Podchaser reviews start showing up in other players, so you [00:55:30] can leave your review in one spot, and it shows up on other sites. It’s great.
Blake Oliver: If you wanna combine your commentary with a review, you can leave a review, tell us what you think, and we will read it on the air.
David Leary: Kill two birds with one stone. You could put your prediction in your reviews so the whole world will see it.
Blake Oliver: I would love that.
David Leary: That's a good idea.
Blake Oliver: I would love that. David, until next week, it was great talking with you and have a great 2020.
David Leary: And on to the future!