2019 Predictions! Also, Isaac Asimov predicted the computer automation revolution, Mindbody to be sold, senators prod regulators on FinTech, and what’s new in QBO

Blake and David discuss all the trends continuing into 2019, their own predictions for the new year, what Isaac Asimov got right about the world in 2019 (it’s creepy how accurate he was), news about apps Mindbody and Robinhood, some cool new automation features in QuickBooks Online, and how Millennials and Gen Z are driving major shifts in customer expectations.

Show Notes

2019 Hiring and Compensation Trends for Accounting FirmsCPA Practice Advisor — Check out these six trends hiring managers in public accounting need to know, as identified by research for the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals. 

35 years ago, Isaac Asimov was asked by the Star to predict the world of 2019. Here is what he wroteThe Star — The famed science fiction writer was wrong about a world government, but pretty close on robots. On computers, though ... 

The year ahead for accounting: 2019 in numbersAccounting Today — Accountants share their expectations and plans for the next 12 months, with data from Accounting Today's annual survey. 

Top 10 Accounting Marketing Trends for 2019AccountingWEB — Here are the top 10 accounting marketing trends for 2019 according to Dawn Wagenaar of Ingenuity Marketing Group. 

Mindbody to be Sold to Vista Equity for $1.9BCFO — The deal adds Mindbody's business management software products for fitness and yoga studios to Vista's portfolio. 

Senators Prod Regulators on Fintech OversightCFO — A bipartisan letter follows attempts by Robinhood to rebrand a cash management service. 

What’s New in QBO: December 2018QuickBooks Blog — New in QBO: 1) Next-day credit card deposits in QuickBooks Payments, 2) Auto-collected contractor W-9s, and 3) Automate routine tasks in QuickBooks Online. 

Millennials and Gen Z Driving Major Shifts in Customer Expectations According to a New Study Commissioned by ZendeskBusinessWire — Among the top takeaways: "According to this study, 67 percent of U.S. respondents have used live chat, social media, or texting for customer service. Among Gen Z and Millennials, 46 percent and 47 percent respectively have used social media to communicate with customer service in the past year -- compared to only 7 percent of Baby Boomers and 26 percent of Gen X. More than a third (36 percent) of Gen Z consumers prefer social media for simple inquiries compared to only 5 percent of Baby Boomers." 

The 30 Fastest Growing Business Apps in 2018Zapier — Chatbots were everywhere in 2017—only to fall off the zeitgeist in 2018. But they’re far from gone. ManyChat, this year’s fastest growing app on Zapier, found the sweet spot for chatbots, driving continued growth after being their fastest growing new app in 2017. 


Blake Oliver: Actually, this is kinda sad, now that I'm looking at it. I wasn't even gonna share this, but this is really sad. This is pathetic. I'm calling it. This is absolutely pathetic. Only about half of small, and mid-sized firms are even on LinkedIn. Just, just so sad. I mean, c'mon guys.
Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver- 
David Leary: And I'm David Leary.
Blake Oliver: We are on vacation, but we're still coming to you, because we're dedicated to the craft of podcasting.
David Leary: You're not at home, either? 
Blake Oliver: I am [00:00:30] at home, but I mean these days, normally, I work from the office, or I do the podcast from the office.
David Leary: Okay.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I'm at home, on vacation until the end of the year.
David Leary: That's good. That's good. I'm "on vacation," as well. I'm up in Phoenix. I'm at my sister's house, so there's like five kids running around, dogs ... If you guys hear some background noise, it's just ambiance ... Ambiance. 
Blake Oliver: That's what's going on. Likewise, likewise. This is the week of predictions. Every accounting publication, [00:01:00] everybody with a pen, who can put it to paper is making predictions for 2019. I thought, David, that we should make predictions, but in the interest of not boring everyone to death, instead of doing that thing where you make 10 predictions, let's each just make one prediction.
David Leary: We could do that. I predict that ... No, all right, I'm kidding. I wasn't gonna do that one. I was gonna make a comment about how many browser tabs I have open, trying to plow through everybody else's predictions, but I won't touch on that. Do you wanna go first? You want me to [00:01:30] go? It's up to you.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I'll go. I'll go on this. Let's just preface these ... Let's not make our predictions right now. Let's just look at some of the trends, before we get into our own predictions. I found this article called "2019 Hiring and Compensation Trends for Accounting Firms," in CPA Practice Advisor.
Basically, it's copying, and pasting ... Well, that's unfair. It's summarizing the results of the annual Robert Half Salary [00:02:00] Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, where they do a very nice survey, and try to come up with trends about compensation in accounting. 
David Leary: I think we've talked about that, when it was released, before, a little bit.
Blake Oliver: Did we really? I hope I'm not rehashing. To summarize, the competition continues to be fierce. This is no surprise. It's getting harder, and harder to find accountants. Nine in 10 finance executives reported challenges finding skilled professionals to fill open positions.
Salary expectations are rising; 46 percent of US workers responding to their survey [00:02:30] say they're underpaid in their current position. That is problematic, if you aren't keeping pace. Also, more organizations are using extras as a retention tool - bonuses, vacation days - including perks such as flexible work schedules, and social events.
This is interesting, the Salary Guide, this year, found a disconnect between what professionals value, and what organizations provide. Number two, and three for workers are compressed work weeks, and telecommuting. That's [00:03:00] number two, and three on workers' wish lists, but only 20 percent, fewer than 20 percent of employers, offer those perks.
David Leary: Is this one reason we're seeing so many people try to go out on their own? You get those two perks, if you're on your own. You get a bunch of new headaches, but at least you get those two perks; you can control your workweek and work anywhere you want.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, exactly. I think that's a big reason more accounting firms are offering, or embracing a flexible staffing model, leveraging the gig economy, and technology is [00:03:30] taking center stage. Firms are starting to realize that they need to look for accountants with technological proficiency, as well.
David Leary: The staffing is gonna be ... Maybe this is your prediction. Maybe it'll be about staffing, but staffing's gonna be a continuing headache going forward.
Blake Oliver: A lot of the change in the profession is gonna be driven by staffing, or the inability to find talent, retain talent. It's gonna drive technology adoption, automation, artificial intelligence, because [00:04:00] that's where the rubber meets the road.
David Leary: Yep. 
Blake Oliver: What do you got, David? 
David Leary: I literally have 40 browser tabs open, and most people's predictions are cloud, automation ... It's all the same stuff we talk about every week. I had this grandiose goal, like, "Hey, we'll go through all these posts, and talk about everybody's top things." After 40 tabs open, the number-one thing is cloud accounting's is coming in 2019. I'm just starting to find it very hard to do. Based on my searching, though, I did find [00:04:30] an amazing article. This was published December 31, 1983. This is an article in The Star-.
Blake Oliver: I think I was I was born in 1983.
David Leary: This is perfect. A little background on this article. I'm gonna say his name, and you're gonna correct me on the correct pronunciation. It's Isaac Asimov, which I think I nailed just now-
Blake Oliver: I think you got it right.
David Leary: Perfect.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: He was asked to write an article on the dawn of 1984.
Blake Oliver: Oh, and we should preface [00:05:00] this by saying, for our listeners who are not Sci-Fi nerds, I know there may not be that many of you out there, but Isaac Asimov was a famous Sci-Fi writer.
David Leary: 1984 is in reference to George Orwell's book, "1984," so this is basically on the eve of 1984, December 31, which is 35 years ago, which is basically his predictions of the world for 2019.
Blake Oliver: Mm hmm.
David Leary: It's a really cool read, and some of it is so accurate, I had keep checking, is this a fake article? Did somebody [00:05:30] stage this? He missed on the nuclear war. The United States, and Russia have not blown each other up yet, so he missed on a little bit of that, but he really goes into computerization. Before I jump into that, he also predicted a bunch of stuff about us mining the moon, so he's maybe a little off on that. There's this huge space race happening, but we're not digging holes in the moon right, just as of yet, this year.
Blake Oliver: No, but we could be, not too long from now. That's one of the goals of all this private space exploration.
David Leary: He's really nailed [00:06:00] what's happened with computerization. I would've assumed maybe he traveled in a time machine, and listened to our podcast for the last year, and then went back and wrote this article, because he talks in this article about these devices that are ... This computerized mobile object, and about robots, and how it's gonna time ... Let me see, a couple things we've touched on this year, so he-.
Blake Oliver: He's talking in here about jobs disappearing from computerization. 
David Leary: Yes. 
Blake Oliver: He says - wow, this is really interesting - "The [00:06:30] immediate effect of intensifying computerization will be, of course, to change utterly our work habits. This has happened before; before the Industrial Revolution, the vast majority of humanity was engaged in agriculture, and indirectly allied professions. After industrialization, the shift from the farm to the factory was rapid, and painful. 
With computerization, the new shift from the factory to something new will be still more rapid, and, in consequence, still more painful. It is not that computerization is going to mean fewer jobs as a whole, for technological advance has always, [00:07:00] in the past, created more jobs than it has destroyed, and there is no reason to think that won't be true, now, too. However, the jobs created are not identical with the jobs that have been destroyed, and in similar cases in the past, the change has never been so radical." That's exactly what we were talking about last week.
David Leary: Yeah, and he even goes in ... This article even talks about how the government is going to provide some sort of welfare arrangement, and support for these people that can't be retrained. We [00:07:30] talked about that a week ago, or two weeks ago.
Blake Oliver: Let's repeat, this was written in 1983, and he's talking about-  Asimov is talking about how the jobs that appear will involve the design, manufacture, installation, maintenance, and repair of computers, and robots, and talking about intelligent machines.
David Leary: Yeah, because the jobs are gonna go away. He says routine clerical, and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough, repetitive enough, stultifying enough to destroy the finely balanced minds of those human beings that are unfortunate enough to have to do those, years, over [00:08:00] years, over years to earn a living.
Essentially, we talk about bookkeeping all the time; it's being replaced by robots, and technology. This article really just nails a lot of these topics we talk about. Sure, the moon stuff's interesting to read about; the mining the moon, but really, the rest of this, about computerization ... Now, he missed social media. I think a lot of people did not see social media coming, the last 10 years, but all the rest of computing, and robotics, and automation, and the computer revolution, really, he has it ... He [00:08:30] nailed it all.
Blake Oliver: Check it out. That'll be in the show notes. Bringing it back to accounting, David, Accounting Today put out their "Year Ahead for Accounting: 2019 in Numbers" article that they do every year. They do an annual survey. I can share some results from that.
David Leary: Yeah, I'm trying to find that tab. It's like 50 tabs open here ... This is the Numbers one, right? Year-Accounting-Numbers. I got it. Perfect, perfect. 
Blake Oliver: It says quite a lot in here. Interesting, in the divide between small, [00:09:00] medium, and large firms, the biggest challenge for small, and medium firms is the new tax cuts, and Jobs Act; dealing with all the changes in the tax law, because I think most small, and medium firms tend to focus on tax, still. 
Large firms, that's their secondary concern. Their biggest concern by far ... 62 percent say that recruiting, and retaining good employees is the hardest thing for them. I think that makes sense, because working for a large firm kinda sucks most of the time, because they haven't embraced remote, and flexible work, and that's what people want, as [00:09:30] we just discussed earlier, right? 
David Leary: Yep. 
Blake Oliver: That's my theory about this, anyway. Let's see, what else is in here? Oh, interesting - the percentage of firms requiring staff to work all Saturdays during busy season is down six percentage points from last year, and that's despite the new tax law. The drop is roughly the same across all sizes of firms, but small firms remain the least likely to require the Saturday commitment, with only 28 percent enforcing it against 35 percent of mid-sized firms, and 47 percent of large firms. [00:10:00]
That number is shocking to me, that nearly half of large firms require all their tax staff to come in on Saturdays during busy season, even if they've got their work done. Just, God ... No wonder nobody wants to work there.
David Leary: I'm trying to come up with a comment, and sorta tie it back to Office, when he comes over, and he asks them to work on Saturday. I can just envision it's kinda that same thing-.
Blake Oliver: Oh, you're talking about the movie, "Office Space"? 
David Leary: "Office Space," yes, "Office [00:10:30] Space," sorry. That's kinda that- 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. I love that movie. It's like that, right? Nobody wants to work for a company, where you're required to work on Saturdays. Incentivize people; let them work hard all week, and then they can take Saturday off, even during busy season. It shouldn't be mandatory. Anyway, I could talk about that all day long.
David Leary: I'm surprised that 10 percent plan to add payroll as a service offering.
Blake Oliver: Yes. This is the areas of growth part of the survey. Payroll is [00:11:00] currently one of the most widely offered services, in addition to tax, and audit. Currently 58 percent of firms do payroll for their clients, and 10 percent will add it. Now, I believe ... I'm not sure, because I haven't seen the detailed data, but I'm pretty sure this means either doing it in-house or using a payroll service to run payroll. It's gotta be-.
David Leary: It's gotta be using a payroll service, because there's not a lot of [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: Hardly anyone does payroll themselves, anymore. 
David Leary: Most people hate [00:11:30] doing it. Then, on top of that, there's the whole pushing the liability off, right? Off of your firm. It's interesting that 10 percent more are gonna add payroll, when I feel like ... I've talked to a lotta people, and they wanna get out of payroll.
Blake Oliver: That's silly to me, because it is such a high-margin service, if you do it right, but it requires a lot of touches with the clients. You've gotta have really good customer service. We'll talk about customer service, cuz that's another article that I've got here.
10 percent more are gonna add payroll. Currently, 42 percent of firms offer CAS, outsourced accounting, client accounting [00:12:00] services; 15 percent will add that. That's gonna be the largest area of growth. If this holds true, by the end of 2019, by 2020, more than half of accounting firms will be offering CAS, which is really exciting, because that's a tipping point, for sure.
In the world of technology, and cyber-security consulting, currently, only 21 percent of firms offer that service, which is crazy to me, considering how lucrative it is. They just don't have the skill set, I imagine, but they want to. That's [00:12:30] growing by 10 percent, which, it's a small base, growing from 21 percent, by another 10 percent, but that's pretty dramatic growth for something that's so small, right now.
David Leary: I think that it's in demand, and I think you have another article to talk about that, but I think even Intuit always had numbers like that; that small businesses that worked with an accountant, or bookkeeper just are more successful, because the small businesses, right now, are making these decisions on their own [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Those are my two 2019 trends. I guess they're not really predictions, so [00:13:00] much as they are just surveys, and trends, but that's where we're headed, both in terms of what accounting firms are focusing on, and what the talent market is going toward.
David Leary: It's a little bit about their social media. Apparently, large firms are all about the LinkedIn, and a little less about the Twitter. Overall, firms tend to use Twitter a little less, but they're definitely big on the LinkedIn. Almost 71 percent are involved in the LinkedIn action.
Blake Oliver: I found that Twitter is kind of a dead zone, from [00:13:30] a networking perspective, and from a prospecting perspective, for sure. You're not gonna meet clients on Twitter, I don't think, very often, but it's a lotta fun just for talking with other people who are out there on social media, like you, and I. David. We have a good time on Twitter.
David Leary: Yeah, and maybe the big firms don't realize maybe their employees are on Twitter. They're just keeping it under wraps a little bit. They have some pretty [cross talk].
Blake Oliver: Yeah, so this chart you're looking at is saying, "Is your firm involved in any of these platforms?" To me, that means does your firm have an [00:14:00] account, right? 
David Leary: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: Actually, this is kinda sad, now that I'm looking at it. I wasn't even gonna share this, but this is really sad. This is pathetic. I'm calling it. This is absolutely pathetic. Only about half of small, and mid-sized firms are even on LinkedIn. Just, just so sad. I mean, c'mon guys. I don't know, maybe we should start a business, David, and just charge people a thousand bucks to set 'em up on LinkedIn, cuz [cross talk] it's so easy. It's so easy.
David Leary: LinkedIn's kind of like a business card. [00:14:30] I think, in all these services, it's kind of a business card [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: It is a business card- 
David Leary: Right? Yeah.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, I have business cards. I do not bring them to conferences most of the time, because, one, I forget them, and, two, LinkedIn is way more useful. Just connect on there. What's sad is only 71 percent of large firms, which have marketing budgets, for sure, are on LinkedIn. What are those CMOs doing? What are those marketing people doing that they're not on LinkedIn? Jesus!
David Leary: The other 30 percent at large firms [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: I don't know. I feel like sometimes maybe I should just go work in marketing for an [00:15:00] accounting firm, or just all of them, because they're so bad at it.
David Leary: All of 'em. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Similar numbers are on Facebook; about half of the small, and mid-sized firms; slightly more large ones. Again, nobody's on Twitter, but don't worry about Twitter; you don't need to be there, I don't think. As a firm, you definitely don't.
David Leary: I did find an article about Top 10 Accounting Marketing Trends for 2019, since you just got so fired up about the marketing stuff.
Blake Oliver: Well, yeah, I saw that, too. What stands out to you from that? 
David Leary: This was on AccountingWEB; things [00:15:30] that ... Everybody's all hot in the Google Business listing stuff. I think that's a big one now,  because I think you have to optimize for that, especially if your site doesn't support mobile.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, that was the point that ... Make sure that your accounting firm is listed on Google as a business, which is also one of those no-brainer things that you should be doing, because it improves your Google ranking. 
David Leary: Then, it kinda carries through to ... We were just talking about LinkedIn, and Facebook. Search [00:16:00] is moving, and paid search, and paid ads is really moving a little bit from Google to the social networks.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. 
David Leary: You can't run an ad, a Facebook ad, or a LinkedIn ad for your firm, if you're not actually on those services. It really goes right along to what you were just talking about.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: Reviews ... Video; I've seen video show up in a couple posts. Video is really making it a priority this year. I'm not saying that's a theme, I'm [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: The problem with [00:16:30] video is it's hard. It's really hard to pull it off, and it takes a lotta effort. It's great to do, if you can, but, where ... I mean, the bar is really low, right here, David. We're talking about firms just need to get on ... Build a company page on LinkedIn. Start with that.
David Leary: Yeah, then kinda the next level for firms ... Let's say a firm's online; they're making video, they're creating content. Some of them are actually starting to monetize their content; almost have an offline subscription [00:17:00] model, or you can sign up, and get the content, as a paid channel, if you think about it that way. Premium content.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. If you are a firm that specializes in a niche, which you have always ... You've been preaching that for forever, right, David? 
David Leary: Yeah. 
Blake Oliver: I consider you like the niche guy. Your firm ought to be specializing in some sort of vertical, some sort of niche - at least one - and it's so easy. Just create content for that niche. Teach them how to do their accounting. Then, a certain [00:17:30] percentage who don't wanna do it will come to you for services.
It worked for me, 10 years ago, and the crazy thing is that so few people are doing it that it still works. Find either an app that you learn, that you master, that you specialize in, and just create a bunch of articles, or videos; how-to stuff on that. Put that on your website. You'd be amazed at how much traffic you get; or, do it for a particular industry.
David Leary: Yeah, just become an expert on one thing, and put out lots of content for one thing, and you'll probably get more traffic hits than instead [00:18:00] of trying to put out ... All these posts that are out here, right now, are all plays on SEO. "Top 10 Things for 2019 ..." "Top This for 2019 ..."  They're all fluff, and they won't get a lotta clicks after this week. They just won't.
Blake Oliver: It's click bait. It's also easy. It's just expected. 
David Leary: I bit the bullet for everybody, and went through all these this week, so ... 
Blake Oliver: Thank you, David.
David Leary: Speaking of niches, you had an article about s did you get your article about MINDBODY? 
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah. Okay, let's get to the [00:18:30] actual app news. MINDBODY is business management software for ... You know it better than I do, David. What do they support? 
David Leary: A lot of you probably have used MINDBODY, if you've ever been to a gym, or a yoga studio, or maybe you've been to a spa. MINDBODY was kinda first to market, I would say, with having kind of cloud-based membership software. I have a karate studio, and I need to track my members, and bill them, and maybe [00:19:00] let them book classes online. MINDBODY was kinda first to market, but they were very generic.
Blake Oliver: Okay, got it. They did really, really well. I remember hearing about them a long time ago. They got very big; they went public in 2015. In 2017, according to this CFO article that I'm looking at, they reported revenues of $183 million. Wow. Then, they ran into trouble.
David Leary: My experience with the apps ... Over time, I've kinda saw this happening. MINDBODY, they're trying [00:19:30] to be everything to everybody. They had their enterprise clients, so, you're talking the Orangetheory Fitnesses ... What's the big massage ... Is it Massage Envy? [cross talk]  all those big corporate ... These enterprise-level custom integrations. They're never gonna lose those customers. They're gonna have them forever.
What's happening is, at the next level down, they're getting sliced by deeper niche apps. There's an app just for acupuncturists [00:20:00] that not only does the online booking of the appointments, the payments from the clients, the CRM built in, it also keeps track of what needles you stuck in which client.
Then there was stuff just for CrossFit studios, and dance studios. There's stuff for a beauty salon ... Over, and over again, they just kinda got sliced by these niches. I know I have this recorded somewhere, maybe from two years ago, three years ago, where I'm like, "MINDBODY doesn't even know this is happening [00:20:30] yet. They're losing clients at that lower level, and they don't even know it ...".
Blake Oliver: Well, that's the risk of building business-management software, booking software, that sorta thing, because it's not nearly as complicated to create something like that as it is to create accounting software. Yes, if you go too broad, and too big, you could die of a thousand cuts, when all these niche apps pop up that serve specific types of businesses, when you're so broad.
Anyway, that makes a lotta sense to me, David. [00:21:00] I guess that is why, even though MINDBODY seemed to be doing really well, their stock has fallen almost 50 percent over the last three months;  that was through December 21 - not sure how they're doing now -  and they are going to be sold to a private equity firm, Vista  Equity, for $1.9 billion dollars. Not too great, if you invested in MINDBODY at the beginning of the year; lost half your money.
David Leary: It's still a better investment than Bitcoin- 
Blake Oliver: At least, right? Yeah, it's a better [00:21:30] investment than Bitcoin. That's for sure [cross talk] They got some of their money back, because there was a 68-percent premium on the closing price. Interesting, right? Not every cloud story ends in great success. Although, who knows, maybe Vista will be able to turn this around? 
David Leary: This article almost makes me wanna change my prediction a little bit [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: Wait, what's your prediction? Did you reveal it yet? 
David Leary: I haven't revealed it yet, but I think one prediction that could be safe for people is, if you're not a niche app, this [00:22:00] is gonna be rough. 2019's gonna be rough, because commodity apps are getting sliced. They're getting sliced.
Blake Oliver: I like that a lot. I like that prediction a lot, and I would expand it, even, though, David. I would say it's not just about being an app, it's knowing your customer, regardless of whether or not you're a developer, or an accounting firm. If you don't know your customer intimately, and serve that particular customer really well, then you will be gone. [00:22:30] Maybe that's not a 2019 prediction , like for one year; maybe that's many years, but I feel like the general practitioners are going away.
David Leary: Oh, yeah. I've been on that niche kick a long time. That's not my prediction. I'm saving my prediction for whenever you're ready.
Blake Oliver: All right. Let's see what else we got here. Was there any more app news? I think that's it for the app news. Oh, no, here's one. We talked about FinTech, last week, week before. We've been kind of following this trend of apps, and [00:23:00] services like Square becoming more like banks.
We discussed recently how Square applied to become a bank. Well, there's another app, called Robin Hood, which is, as I understand it, primarily an investment tool. It offers people a way to sign up for a brokerage account on their phone, and then to invest money very easily. Seamless sign-up; go on my phone, connect my checking account. Now, I have a brokerage account; now, I can invest. Somehow, [00:23:30] they're able to do it for free - no trading fees - which is really appealing.
David Leary: It's been very successful. A lotta people who've been using it the last two-three years ... I have not used it, myself, but I've seen some buzz on it. People are really ... They really like it, those people that are using it. 
Blake Oliver: People have loved it. Then they made waves, because, on December 13, Robin Hood announced that it was going to be offering no-fee checking, and savings accounts with a three-percent interest rate, and no [00:24:00] fees, or account minimums. That's insane in the banking world, right? Nobody offers three-percent interest on no- fee checking, and savings accounts.
David Leary: Which is amazing. Sign me up ... Then, something happened, right?
Blake Oliver: Yeah. This article appeared in CFO.com on December 21, and something felt weird to me about this. It's called "The Senators Prod Regulators on FinTech Oversight." The article is about how seven U.S. senators [00:24:30] sent a letter to regulators over concerns that Robin Hood, and other FinTech companies may be avoiding oversight by reclassifying themselves as cash ... What are they calling themselves? 
In order to get around the banking rules, or to have to become a bank, they're calling them cash-management accounts, which is a type of investment account that's meant to hold cash used to buy and sell securities. Those kind of accounts can also have checking features, and savings features, in a way, so [00:25:00] that's how Robin Hood is trying to become more like a bank without having to actually become a bank.
This makes sense. Senators would be concerned that if too many of these FinTech companies get into this, then people won't be protected, and whatnot, because they don't have to go through banking regulation. Then, I thought to myself, what senators are actually paying attention to this space ? It's not like they're listening to The Cloud Accounting Podcast, right? 
David Leary: Mm-hmm. 
Blake Oliver: Here's my [00:25:30] suspicion: it's that the banks are scared of this, and that they called up the senators that they donate money to, and basically told them, "You guys need to get on this, and shut this down."
David Leary: There's no way that happened. There's no way. 
Blake Oliver: That's my tinfoil-hat prediction [cross talk] 
David Leary: I agree; that's how this stuff works. If people are a little bit disruptive, or always gonna get pushback ... I feel like the loan game, as [00:26:00] well, because not only that, being a bank, but Square, and Intuit, and OnDeck, and all these small-business-loan players are out there giving loans to small businesses. They're kind of leaving the banks out of that game, and that party. You're probably gonna see the same thing ... There's just gonna be a wind of this with the loan players, too; you're gonna see something similar.
Blake Oliver: Well, the banks should be terrified, because I'm thinking, "Wow, this sounds great. I may switch. Sign me up." That's what I've got. We got some [00:26:30] QuickBooks Online new features we could talk about, and then we can move on to our predictions.
David Leary: That'll work; that'll work. 
Blake Oliver: All right, this is just a quick cover of what happened in QuickBooks Online in December. I've kinda stopped paying attention to this little stuff on our podcast. I feel like we tend to talk about bigger issues, these days, but I really liked this one feature, which is Auto-Collected Contractor W-9s. 
This is a new feature for December. QuickBooks will now collect a signed [00:27:00] W-9 form from contractors you hire, sparing you the time to have to reach out, and get that from them manually. The idea is ... I haven't actually tried this myself. I'd be curious to know how well it works.
You enter the contractor's name, and email in QuickBooks Online, and then QuickBooks reaches out via email to collect their W-9 info and get their e-signature. I just think that's such a great feature, This should have existed years ago. Good job to the product team for building something that actually will save people tons of time.
David Leary: Because it's a [00:27:30] base workflow, right? Every time, and I've experienced it, myself, you try to interact with somebody, and they're like, "Hey, please send me your W-9." Then, I just send it to 'em. Even on my side, I've had to create a process, like where  do I save the image of that, so I can easily send it to people? It's the same thing on the business side. Really, this is one of those ripple effects. It really is gonna save lots, and lots of people time.
Blake Oliver: There's a similar feature that was also announced, which it's interesting, because I don't even think this was previewed at QuickBooks Connect. This sorta just appeared. It's called Manage Routines. [00:28:00] Was this talked about at the conference?
David Leary: Trying to remember. I'm trying to- 
Blake Oliver: I don't remember it. You'll love this, David. It's like an automation-workflow builder inside of QuickBooks Online. This is the sorta thing I think that's gonna cause people to switch from Desktop, because now you can build customized workflows inside of QBO that will automate certain things, such as alerting customers to outstanding invoices, setting up bill reminders, all that stuff. It's [00:28:30] available in this Manage Routines menu option in the top menu.
One of the examples is a payment-receipt email. You can create a routine; you title it Payment Receipt in Email. You can apply it to specific customers, who have made a payment of more than zero dollars, or whatnot. Then, it will automatically email them a reminder that they sent you a payment. It's like a receipt [cross talk] 
David Leary: It's really taking ... Bank rules, bank [00:29:00] feeds, and QuickBooks, and Xero, and some of these are getting really good, now, right?
Blake Oliver: Yeah. 
David Leary: Especially if you take the time to create, and tweak, and squeeze some of your custom rules. Now, it's like moving beyond bank feeds, what else ... Because, if you can create some custom rules for your bank feeds, you could probably create other custom rules for other workflows. 
It's kind of a natural evolution, where you're gonna see the accounting systems really just keep automating more work; keep automating more work. Especially if some [00:29:30] of these basic flows could happen in-product, you don't have to use like a Zapier, or third-party add-on, it's really, really interesting.
Blake Oliver: Exactly, yeah. This is where it seems that Intuit is really headed is attempting to make QuickBooks into a practice-management suite, not just an accounting software. This sort of automation could be broadly applied to so many different areas of the application. Just taking away all those clicks, all those ... Anything we have to do repetitively that [00:30:00] we can automate, like Zapier. It's gonna make cloud accounting 10 times more powerful. We think it's powerful now. You can automate half the work; 80 percent of the work. Imagine what you're gonna be able to do, when these automation features are in there, too?
David Leary: Totally. You ready for your predictions?
Blake Oliver: Let's do it.
David Leary: Want me to go first, or you wanna go first? 
Blake Oliver: I feel like we need a sound effect, or something-.
David Leary: From the future? 
Blake Oliver: Cue the sound ... I'll find ... No, this is not a future sound effect. This is more like a [00:30:30] trumpets blaring [cross talk] I'll find something good. Yeah, yeah, drum roll ... [drum roll plays] 
David Leary: I will say mine first, and I'll get you some background after I state what it is. In 2019, this is the year B2B payments via credit cards are dead. If you have to pay another business, or another business has to pay you, you're not gonna let them pay you via credit cards, anymore. You'll use credit cards with your client- with your customers - front-end, [00:31:00] retail - but B2B [cross talk] no more.
Blake Oliver: Customers could ... What is gonna change that? 
David Leary: The fee structure. If you use a Bill.com, or Veem, or some of these other vendors that are starting to pop up, you can pay people anywhere in the globe now, especially B2B, for almost free, very reliably. On top of that, you get all the audit, and the control, and all that type of stuff, versus the credit card, you're basically pushing it through, and then, you're giving up 2.5 percent, especially [00:31:30] B2B, when these are big transactions.
What really drove this ... I saw a LinkedIn post, when I was searching around for everybody else's stuff. Somebody was upset, actually, at Intuit Payments, because they didn't get approved. It's a startup incubator saying they're gonna run a conference, and they have some sponsors that need to pay them; which means they're probably charging sponsors, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 for a booth, whatever it might be.
He's like, "They wanna pay me on credit card ..." but, especially if you're an organization, maybe a nonprofit, that's a lot of money to give up to credit-card fees. [00:32:00] I just replied to him. I'm like, "Check out Veem, check out Bill.com." There's so many other options that are out there.
I think this is the year small businesses discover, "Oh, I don't have to ..." There's a ripple effect, I think, with these services. If I go to pay you via Veem, you're gonna get invited, and you're gonna create a Veem account. Then, you'll use it to pay somebody. I think this is kinda the tipping point, this year, where people are gonna discover, "Oh, it's better for me to let small businesses pay me via other methods; not credit cards." 
Blake Oliver: Got [00:32:30] it. Yeah, I think that is ... Well, I like your prediction, David, because I think it's realistic, and it could really tip this year, because, like you said, we finally have a lot of options. It used to be there really was only Intuit Payments for the small-business folks. Now, you've got all these other ones out there that are using blockchain, not using it ... Doing international payments. You're right, this may be the year it changes.
You ready for my prediction? My prediction is kind of about [00:33:00] technology, but, in a lotta ways, it isn't. This was inspired by a study commissioned by Zendesk. They put out a press release on December 11. It's a study that attempts to quantify the business impact of customer service in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany. They did a survey of more than 2,500 consumers in four countries and revealed generational differences in customer-support-channel preferences.
The big takeaway is that, and this is not surprising to anybody [00:33:30] who has a kid with a phone, or is a millennial, themself, that millennials and Gen-Z people love using chat on their phones. Live chat, social media, texting for customer service. 67 percent of U.S. respondents have used those tools for customer service, which is actually a lot, but among Gen-Z, and millennials, 46 percent, and 47 percent - almost half - have used social media to communicate with customer service [00:34:00] in the past year, compared to only seven percent of baby boomers. A huge generational shift. More than a third of Gen-Z consumers prefer social media for simple inquiries for customer service.
The takeaway is that the younger people who are on their phones, who are comfortable with those as a medium of communication, they want to be able to text the companies that they are working with. To me, what [00:34:30] this means is my prediction ... I don't know, maybe this is not a prediction. This is more of a long-term prediction; It's not a one-year type thing.
It's that firms are going to have to figure out how to communicate with their clients, and deliver really good customer service, mobily. I wanna be able to text my accountant. Why can't I do that? There are tools now that will let you do that, without having to give out your personal cellphone number. I think we're gonna see firms adopting that type of [00:35:00] ease.
David Leary: I have to agree with you. I've had thoughts about it, myself, years ago, when I first started seeing it, because of all the apps. It's SaaS software; Software as a Service. Really, if you look at the top apps that are the most successful, they provide very good service.
Blake Oliver: Yep. 
David Leary: I always thought like ... I remember having a conversation with Olark, years ago. I was like, "You guys should get small businesses just to put this on their website, or accountants to put this on their website, to have chat available for their own clients." Maybe this is the year this happens. I'm gonna agree with you, on principle. [00:35:30]
Blake Oliver: Although, you know ... I don't know, I'm sort of depressed now, given what we talked about earlier; revealing that only half of firms are even on LinkedIn, with company pages. What are the odds, if they're not on social media, they're gonna have a chat option on their website? Even just for prospects, because that's the beginning. 
The idea is don't just use it for your prospects, when they're on your website, trying to get them as customers; use it for your customers, too. The experience of working with an accountant [00:36:00] should be like using an app. It should be that easy. It should be I open up some app on my phone, and I can just text with my CPA. I don't wanna have to go to a computer, or open up my email, and put in their email address.
 Maybe I've got a bunch of people that I'm working with at the firm, so I don't know who I'm gonna email, so I'll just email all of them. It's just such an awful experience. There are tools now that will let you do that really easily. Actually, I read an [00:36:30] article recently that proved this out. Zapier actually put out a list of their fastest-growing apps on their platform, and the fastest-growing one this year, by far, was a chatbot.
David Leary: Is it Intercom?
Blake Oliver: No, it was ManyChat. It gained users at a pace of 1,300 percent in 2018. They [00:37:00] are an app that lets you make a chatbot for Facebook Messenger for your own business. You can train it to answer basic questions, or to help people subscribe to your application, or your service, your business, or buy things, even.
David Leary: I think you can even do that outta the box on Facebook, because I think, for The Cloud Accounting Podcast, if you go to our Facebook page, Facebook's always prompting me to create a chat interaction for people that visit our page. I was like, "Yeah, it doesn't really ..." Maybe it doesn't [00:37:30] apply to us, but, yeah, I think you can create some robotic-automation chat facilities right through Facebook, straight outta the box.
Blake Oliver: I'm on the software side, right now, but if I were back in public accounting practice, at a firm that gave me a budget so I could do this, I would subscribe to ManyChat. Let's say we're serving millennials, doing CPA work for them, doing tax returns. Build a Facebook [00:38:00] Messenger chatbot, using ManyChat, and give people the ability to ask questions about the firm, to do support to those types of customers, through Facebook Messenger. It's great, because the Facebook Messenger's a great app. It's already built; it already works. People use it. Just leverage that. Don't even have to build your own app anymore.
David Leary: Yeah, and it just makes you accessible, because most people are on Facebook; it's easy to get to. I'd say jump in- 
Blake Oliver: You'd be so far ahead of [00:38:30] any other accounting firm; nobody else is doing this. 
David Leary: If, let's say, somebody listening decides, "Hey, I have a prediction," and they want to put a prediction out there, put your prediction, tag it with #cloudaccounting #podcast, that way Blake, and I will see [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: Wait, no ... Isn't it ...? It's one hashtag, right? It's #cloudaccountingpodcast. 
David Leary: Well, you could use that, as well. We'll take that [cross talk] separated one out. I have reasons for the separate ones, but you can do, yes ... Any variation of that, I will find it. Tag Blake, or myself. Blake, [00:39:00] your Twitter handle is ...?
Blake Oliver: I am @BlakeTOliver. 
David Leary: Mine's @DavidLeary. Put out your prediction, everybody, and we will ... Maybe, if there's enough, maybe we'll read 'em out next week, when we record. Our first show of 2019 will be next week. The new year is here. 
Blake Oliver: That's right, and I've got a little bit editing to do. 
David Leary: On this one?
Blake Oliver: On the last one. We haven't put out the last one, yet.
David Leary: Wait, we did. 
Blake Oliver: No, no, I've got one in the hopper, still.
David Leary: Episode 50 is out. You have a different episode? A secret one?
Blake Oliver: Episode 51, we recorded. [00:39:30] I haven't put that out yet.
David Leary: I thought this was 51.
Blake Oliver: No, this is 52. 
David Leary: I'm so confused. Oh, boy. All right, time's flying.
Blake Oliver: Great talking to you, David.

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