My tax and bookkeeping career took off at Intuit, where empathy skills are valued as equally as my experience
While the coronavirus pandemic resulted in many companies reducing their overheads or headcount, the finance and accountancy jobs market has remained resilient. There are even indications that the demand for EA-, CPA-qualified and specialist accountants are on the uptick.
After all, companies worldwide need auditing when the economy is growing, companies need auditing when the economy is slowing, and people always need to do their taxes. Accounting professionals searching for their next role may take comfort knowing their industry is likely to be recession-proof.
As we emerge from the pandemic we do so in respect of the fundamental shifts in the way businesses and individuals have operated in unprecedented times.
During periods of uncertainty, cash management becomes a priority along with accurate reporting for contingency planning. For many companies, and those managing their personal finances, this has quickly become a mission-critical approach over the last 18 months. Risk management professionals have continued to play an integral role in helping manage responses and recoveries for companies and individuals alike.
As they are equipped to objectively audit businesses or advise on personal tax issues – demand for accountancy and finance roles, as we head into 2022, is on the rise.
More than accounting experts
Yet, hiring managers are not just looking for accounting professionals with strong data analytical skills. The pandemic has changed perceptions of the way we live and how we communicate with our colleagues and clients.
Those with strong “soft skills” such as business acumen, tenacity and emotional intelligence, to successfully collaborate with others in the implementation of new business strategies and technology, are in a strong position to leverage the latest demand.
Neil Balanay is one of these hires. As a CPA qualified accountant with 18 years of industry experience, he has worked for leading players in the accounting industry, including two of the Big Four firms.
Yet, his current and proudest role is for a company that has successfully navigated the changes brought by the pandemic. More so, it has advantageously positioned him ready for a rapid career trajectory.
Balanay works at Intuit as a TurboTax Live Manager. Intuit is a global technology platform that helps clients overcome their most important financial challenges.
As Intuit is technology-led, the company is very much at the forefront of the modern accountancy industry and one which embraces change, flexibility and personal transformation — words not usually associated with the Big Four or conversations related to tax. Thanks to this approach, the company is especially apt in addressing the needs of small- to medium-sized companies and individuals, who tend not to go for Big Four firms for their tax preparation.
One such tool to help welcome these customers is SmartLook, a feature on the Intuit website and app that connects directly to a TurboTax Live expert. The tool allows the customer to see the TurboTax Live expert via one-way video — the expert does not see the customer. Instead, they see the customer’s TurboTax screen, which they annotate while talking to the customer to help them get the answers they need.
“We joke here as a company that the only constant is that there's always change,” says Balanay. “We're always trying to modify or improve our software and processes: things change constantly.”
Balanay works remotely from his home in California. Today he works full time as a TurboTax Live Manager after working for Intuit for five years as a seasonal tax expert.
“Intuit attracted me because not only can I utilise my CPA and keep up my tax credentials but the role allowed me the flexibility to take care of my kids,” says Balanay. “When I started raising a family my goals changed. I needed to work and taking care of my family became more important to me. The flexibility allows me to adjust my work schedule to attend parent-teacher meetings, go to after-school sporting events and be an involved parent.”
In his role, Balanay manages a team helping them to best interact with clients, teaching how to address and research the latest tax issues and working on individual projects that provide learning opportunities for his team and help further the business.
This, he says, leads to one of the biggest differences between Intuit and the Big Four: not having to account for all his time tied to a particular client. At Intuit, he can spend time working on projects and deeply investigate and produce results through to completion.
Other employees have also paid credit to Intuit’s programs that help them handle being a caretaker at home, maintaining work-life balance, and taking care of themselves and their families. Along with being ranked on multiple best places to work lists and scoring a 4.5 on Glassdoor from employee reviews, Intuit came number 11 on Fortune 100 Best Places to Work For 2021. On such surveys, employees consistently offer insights on how caring, trustworthy, and fair they see their employer in times of crisis and also the company’s impact on their well-being and the broader community.
Indices of success
Employee satisfaction is only half the picture of success as we emerge from the pandemic. As a leader in modern accounting, Intuit is breaking new ground in the way it holds conversations and relationships with its clients.
Serving more than 100 million customers worldwide with TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, Credit Karma and Mailchimp, the company believes that everyone should have the opportunity to prosper and never stops working to find new, innovative ways to make that possible. At the core of their work is a belief that while prosperity means something different for each person, finances often sit at the core of living the life you want.
They recognise that many, too, struggle with debt. Too many small businesses fail and in communities across the world, people worry about financial challenges and what it means for them, their families and the people that depend on them.
Much of Balanay’s tax advisory work is with the individual, be that a high-net-worth individual, someone from a small to medium-sized business or a person handling their finances. Again, unlike a Big Four firm that tends to deal with corporate clients, Balanay’s conversations tend to be more intimate and personal.
“It’s really important to relate to the complexity of what my client might be facing. So that means leaning in to gain a deep understanding of my client and what will help the differentiation of the outcome. That’s why it is very rewarding working one-on-one with different customers.”
Personalised tax & bookkeeping path
Clearly, a career at Intuit is for those who want to expand their professional growth, learn new skills and shape their professional life to fit their needs. The ethos is about creating a personalised employment path to fit an individual’s needs and the positive employee feedback from across the world suggests Intuit is rewarding on both personal and professional levels.
If you want to get on the path to expand your career, learn new skills, and shape your professional life to fit your needs, the Intuit Careers Page is a great place to look.