What’s new with Sage Intacct from the Intacct Advantage conference in Nashville; David has joined the AutoEntry team as their Principal Technology Evangelist; results from the 2018 Intuit Average Billing Rate Survey; three key steps that accounting teams can take to attract and retain the industry’s top talent; and the dark side of accounting expertise
David Leary joins AutoEntry
— Intuitive Accountant
— David Leary has joined AutoEntry and will be serving as their principal technology evangelist moving forward.
The Dark Side of Accounting Expertise
— For top executives, managerial experience at an auditing firm is not necessarily a virtue, especially among those who are highly paid, a study finds.
David Leary: This episode of the Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Elefant. As a listener of this show, I'm pretty sure you've already embraced technology, and practice efficiencies, but sometimes, it's hard to find training in those areas. Some of you look to your state societies to get CP credit, but those tend to be tax-, or audit-focused, and, quite frankly, from what I've heard, pretty boring.
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Blake Oliver: Welcome [00:01:00] to the Cloud Accounting Podcast, a show for accountants, and bookkeepers using cloud technology to make their jobs more strategic, and impactful. I'm Blake Oliver-.
David Leary: And I'm David Leary. Blake, we got some mail this week we can quickly address, if you want.
Blake Oliver: More mail?
David Leary: I need to find it, here. I found it. Open this one up. It is from Hector Garcia. Hector Garcia is amazed by the quality of our podcast, which is kind of flattering, considering he has his own Facebook group teaching people how to record video, and record audio, so-
Blake Oliver: I'm just honored [00:01:30] that Hector is even listening, so, thank you.
David Leary: I took a picture of the closet, and the recording studio that I have. I don't wanna deep dive on what we're doing, but if you guys have questions about that, we'll maybe create a little post, and everything that we're doing, on Hector's ... Hector'll have to tweet the link to his Facebook group [crosstalk] we can get that out.
Blake Oliver: There's no big secret to our success. We do have certain microphones we're using, and whatnot, but the app that we use is called Zencastr, which is just fantastic. I recommend you check [00:02:00] it out. It's cool, cuz it records each track locally, on each user's machine. That way, you get super-high quality, and you don't have issues with lag on the internet. That's how we're able to interview people, all the way in Australia, and it still works.
David Leary: Plus, I think we've noticed, since I moved in the closet, the quality's been up-
Blake Oliver: That helps, too.
David Leary: That's the tip. Everybody get in the closet to record. It's the way to go. What have you been up to?
Blake Oliver: I spent all of last week in Nashville, Tennessee, at-.
David Leary: Such a great city. It's so ...
Blake Oliver: Oh, my god, I have never [00:02:30] been there before. I was a musician before I became an accountant, and I love music. I have a passion for folk, and I even like country music a little bit. Man, Nashville was amazing. I cannot say enough good things. Every night we went out in Nashville. Of course, you go out every night during a conference, and it was live music everywhere. So amazing. I couldn't ... We don't even have that in LA. Maybe certain parts, but you have to drive there. Nashville, it was like 15 minutes from the from the conference center.
David Leary: Did you stay inside [00:03:00] that Gaylord Opry Center? It's like a big, huge eco-dome, if you wanna call it that.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, Gaylord Opryland. You described it very well, as a cruise ship that doesn't go anywhere.
David Leary: Yeah, there's no gambling, and there's ... I think it's the world's biggest enclosed space, or something. It's pretty amazing.
Blake Oliver: It was really great; great venue that Intacct chose, and over 3,000 attendees joined the conference, this year, which was 28 percent over last year; which probably tracks about with [00:03:30] the growth of cloud accounting in the space - mid-sized companies and whatnot. They did have some announcements I'm happy to run through, David.
David Leary: Before you jump in ... Just to frame it up, when you say mid-sized companies, is that 3,000 individual mid-sized companies, or are people bringing their whole teams with them to a conference like this, now?
Blake Oliver: That included partners; implementers, like my old firm, Armanino. It includes attendees/users of Intacct, lots of them. They tend to bring ... At least [00:04:00] a few people on the team will come to do training or learn about add-ons. FloQast is there. All the marketplace partners come. We go, because it's a great way to meet people who use Intacct, who are interested in finding applications to integrate with Intacct. We get tons of new business from the conference, because a lotta people go there, and they are already attuned to the idea of integrating apps, which is ... For our folks, who are on QuickBooks Online, or on Xero, that is just a way of life, at this point. For [00:04:30] mid-sized companies, that's a whole new concept to a lot of them. These are the most forward-thinking folks in that space, in corporate America.
David Leary: Got it, got it. What was the big takeaways this time?
Blake Oliver: Sage Intacct had, I think it was about three, or four major announcements. I'll start, I'll go down the list. The first item was Sage Intacct Budgeting, and Planning. They now have budgeting and planning integrated with Intacct, in a Sage product. You, and I have discussed that. That was from their acquisition of Budgeta, [00:05:00] last year, or the year before, I believe. Now, it's fully integrated.
David Leary: That's a fast integration for an acquisition.
Blake Oliver: That's nice, lightweight functionality. Of course, it's not going to be like one of those full-blown FP&A applications, like Adaptive Insights, or ... There's a number of them. It'll solve the needs of most users, probably.
The big one that I liked was the Interactive Custom Report Writer. This is a module that allows users [00:05:30] to build custom reports with hierarchical field selection, drag-and-drop functionality, and automatic formatting, and simple subtotaling. You can do stuff like pivot tables of your data, inside of Intacct, without having to export to Excel.
David Leary: Cool.
Blake Oliver: I think that's something that lots of QuickBooks, and Xero users would love to have, as well. I mean that was one of the nice features of one the desktop products is the Report Writer ... Advanced Reports?
David Leary: Advanced Reports, yep.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, that was nice. That's [00:06:00] pretty cool. Should help folks. Then, they also have a new Dynamic Allocations module. That's really important for folks, like not-for-profits that have to allocate overhead to various projects. It could be really tedious, and time-consuming. Now, there's a tool to automate those allocations on a monthly basis.
David Leary: They can dial that up, and down, per account, as necessary?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I think it's super-configurable. Not just for not-for-profits, but also, for anyone who has multiple entities, which is something [00:06:30] that tends to be pretty common, when you're moving up into ERP, like NetSuite, or Intacct. You have lots of entities, and you need to allocate costs among them; maybe a cost that is incurred by one entity, on behalf of all the others. Dynamic Allocations is a pretty cool feature; should help save some time; automate some of that.
David Leary: Good. Anything else major?
Blake Oliver: Last one was ... Well, it's kind of surprising, but it drew a big applause from the crowd. Apparently, it was Intacct is building bank reconciliations.
David Leary: Bank feeds?
Blake Oliver: Yes, [00:07:00] bank feeds, which haven't existed. It kind of blew my mind, when I got into this space, that that that was something that hadn't yet been automated in the ERP world. That has not been where the priority is. They're finally making a move to help speed that up.
David Leary: Did they give any insight on how they're doing that? Are they building it from scratch, or are they using a third-party platform to scrape the bank feeds?
Blake Oliver: That, I do not know, and I would be very interested to find out, so, I'm gonna dig [00:07:30] into that. I'll let you know next week what I find out.
David Leary: Next week, okay. Yeah, we'll be at QuickBooks Connect, next week, so maybe you can tell me in person. That'll be exciting.
Blake Oliver: Awesome, yeah. What's new with you, David?
David Leary: There was a news article ... You, and I were both in the news. So-.
Blake Oliver: Really? Together? For good reasons?
David Leary: Together ... Actually, you weren't in there, but AutoEntry, and FloQast were both in there. I'm in there because I'm joining AutoEntry.
Blake Oliver: What? When did this happen?
David Leary: As of Tuesday, I joined AutoEntry. I've come outta retirement. It's [00:08:00] the right fit for me to jump in and get back into the game. Kinda missed everybody, and looking forward to seeing everybody at QuickBooks Connect, next week.
Blake Oliver: That's really exciting, and AutoEntry is in your backyard, right?
David Leary: Yeah. Their US offices are in Tucson, Arizona, so that's convenient for me. I don't have to ... It's interesting; I'm going into an office, instead of working remotely. It's a little bit of a new world for me.
Blake Oliver: What else is new? You're at AutoEntry. Did you read any good news this week?
David Leary: I don't know [00:08:30] when this survey came out, but I saw that Michelle Long had a blog post about the 2018 Intuit Rate Survey. They surveyed, I wanna say, just over a thousand bookkeepers, and accountants. I think it might have been skewed a little heavy towards QuickBooks Pro Advisors.
A couple of interesting takeaways. One was the hourly billing rates. They've been doing this survey, since 2016, and based on the data of the survey, it's saying hourly billing has decreased by 35 [00:09:00] percent, and value pricing has increased by 56 percent, since 2016.
Blake Oliver: Wow. That's significant.
David Leary: I could definitely believe, on the value pricing, cuz that's starting probably from zero, or a very low number. I could totally buy the 56 percent, but based on so many people talking about how much they charge for an hour to do X service that I see on the Facebook groups, and things, I'm wondering ... I find it hard to believe that over one-third of everybody, now, is not [00:09:30] billing hourly.
Blake Oliver: Well, maybe it's a combination; maybe they're doing both.
David Leary: Okay, maybe they're doing both. Makes sense.
Blake Oliver: A ton of people say, "Oh, yeah, we do value-billing, but then, for some stuff, we do hourly billing." I honestly think ... I am not a total 'you have to go to all value- billing' type person. I think that, for some jobs, it's the right thing, and for some jobs, you really do wanna stick with hourly.
David Leary: Got it. A hybrid approach. Cool.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, it just depends. To me, value is when you're guaranteeing an outcome; that's when you do value-pricing. If you're not guaranteeing [00:10:00] an outcome; you're just giving somebody a resource, like loaning them your bookkeeper, hourly billing works well for that.
David Leary: Got it. One thing that was cool, there's a link to a second Intuit site, where it has a interactive chart that lets you really ... It's almost an interactive infographic, and you can slice, and dice the survey data. One of the observations that I ... My takeaway, just kinda poking around in is how interesting is the hourly rates that people are billing. Tax returns is the highest; the second highest, [00:10:30] which is third-party-app consulting. "Hey, I need to help a brewery client set up Ekos Brewmaster. I need to help my lawyer client set up Clio Law Firm software.".
Third-party-app consulting is higher than ... People are getting higher hourly rates for that, than they are troubleshooting QuickBooks Online. Coming in the lowest, if I'm reading the results correctly is the bookkeeping. Hourly rates for bookkeeping are [00:11:00] the lowest of all the services you could be providing. It's kind of more testament to automating your processes; stop doing the bookkeeping work and get into this higher value.
Blake Oliver: I'm not able to get in here, right now, so, tell me ... Just give me an idea of what are the ranges we're talking about? What are people charging for bookkeeping, on average?
David Leary: California, Texas, Florida; some states like that are averaging about $76 for an hourly rate.
Blake Oliver: For bookkeeping.
David Leary: For bookkeeping.
Blake Oliver: What's the consulting going for?
David Leary: That's coming in at about 91 [00:11:30] [crosstalk] for California-
Blake Oliver: Oh, wow, yeah. That's a pretty good-
David Leary: Yeah, a little bit higher for that. Then, when you start getting a third-party-app consulting, that's where it's pushing the 95-, 96-, 97-, 100-dollar range. Then, tax really jumps up, and it is about 130-150 bucks. It's interesting how consistent that is, across the country, versus state by state. Some of the other ones vary a lot, by state, but taxes is pretty level, across the board, across all the states in the survey.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: There's all different ways to play with the data. There's [00:12:00] graphs; there's ... You can drill down and play with the numbers. It's worth people taking a look at, especially if you're trying to think about your pricing. You just got done with your small-business busy seasons. Probably time to digest and look at some of this information.
Blake Oliver: That's great. I love that tool. We didn't have the tool, at the time, but that report was hugely helpful to me, when I was starting my own business. Hey, I've got a story. This is great. Actually, a follow-up from Intacct [00:12:30] Advantage. It's by Jennifer Warawa. This is called, "The CPA's First-Round Pick: Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Accountants." It appeared on the 23rd, on Accountex Network. It is all about how the talent crunch is going to make attracting, and retaining accountants a big challenge, which, I'm really happy to see such a great article on this topic, because I'm very passionate about it.
One stat in particular [00:13:00] that Jennifer cited, that I was not aware of, is that 80 percent of millennials say workplace tech would be a deciding factor, when considering a new job. That's from a study by Dell, and Intel; 80 percent of millennials will accept, or reject a new job, depending ... Perhaps, depending on the technology that they get to use at that job.
David Leary: Yeah, I can see that, because I think there's probably enough choice now, where there's enough companies that are [00:13:30] using tech efficiently, embracing tech, where you have a choice. I think if you go back a decade ago, not enough people were using it, and you didn't have that power, as somebody applying for a job. Yeah, I buy into that number.
Blake Oliver: This is my argument, which is that, over the next 10 years, it's gonna get harder, and harder to find good talent. The way you're going to attract them, or retain them, is by having modern technology in your accounting team. If you're still on that legacy desktop ERP, in 10 years, nobody's gonna wanna work for you, because they're gonna hate coming into work, and [00:14:00] you're gonna make them come in to work, because they can't work remotely, because they're stuck on this desktop ERP system.
Another great stat from the article is a McKinsey study in 2008 that found that demand for social, and emotional skills, such as leadership, and communication will rise 24 percent in the coming years. That is a lesson for those folks who are part of the upcoming workforce, for millennials, or even for Gen-Zers. You can't just focus on accounting [00:14:30] technology. Even, you can't focus on GAP, or your accounting skills. You really need to be developing soft skills, because that's going to be very, very important in the new era of cloud accounting 2.0, as we like to call it. Everyone. go check out this article it's great. I'll put that in the show notes.
David Leary: I have an article. I'm gonna put you on the spot, because I've read two articles covering it. There was a survey. The gist of it is there's a survey about the dark side of accounting expertise. [00:15:00] The premise is, and also, you kinda buy into this ... If I have audit experience, if I have accounting background, and I'm the CEO of a company, I'm much more prone to possibly figure out how to ... Cook the books might not be the right word, but kind of played the numbers game a little bit to overstate earnings ... I'm just more prone to that, because I know all the tricks.
What's your ... I don't know if you saw these [00:15:30] articles, cuz it was covered in a couple of the different media properties over the week. Did you see any of that? Did you digest that? Maybe if anybody's listening, what's your take on that? I kinda follow the logic on it.
Blake Oliver: I feel like this is common knowledge is that if you have a lot of accounting expertise, then, yeah ... If you've done accounting, then you know how you can manipulate earnings, and manipulate numbers. The question is are you going to do it, or not? I think the big problem is that we have such enormous pressure on [00:16:00] public companies, from Wall Street, to meet quarterly earnings expectations that executives feel like they have no choice; that they will fail, if they don't meet those targets, so, they'll push the envelope, or, sometimes, even break the law. I just think we need to do something. I don't know what, but we need to do something about the pressure that investors are putting on companies, because that pressure is what directly turns into fraud.
David Leary: You're right, it's probably tied to the pressure. I saw another [00:16:30] article, which I don't think-
Blake Oliver: Not to say that ... To disavow accounting of responsibility. We do have responsibility, as professionals, and CPAs, and whatnot, but, again, I think it's a two-way street.
David Leary: If people performed what they're asked for, right? If people want quarterly results, at any cost, somebody's going to give them those results.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. one suggestion I saw was let's get rid of quarterly, and go to twice a year, as they do in other parts of the world.
David Leary: Maybe some other interview, maybe we'll get a little more on it. Right now, I [00:17:00] think it's people are reporting the results of the survey. I don't see a lot of recommendations coming, or opinions about the survey, actually, at this point. It's just a lot of recommendations, based off the observations in it.
Blake Oliver: Hey, David, I've gotta jump on a call, so we probably should wrap things up. If our listeners would like to get in touch with you, where should they reach you online?
David Leary: The best thing to do is to come to QuickBooks Connect, next week.
Blake Oliver: Yes.
David Leary: See me there. We're going to be at the preconference party, which is put on by Press Ignition, AutoEntry, TSheets. How do we get ahold of you? [00:17:30]
Blake Oliver: If you want to reach me, it's @BlakeTOliver, on Twitter.
David Leary: Awesome. See you next week.
Blake Oliver: Thanks, David.