FIRM: Intuit Financial Services

SVP, CONSUMER SOLUTIONS: Albert Ko

INNOVATION: Integrating TurboTax and FinanceWorks

LOTS OF ADOPTION: About 86 percent of Intuit

 

The disconnect between the manypersonal financial management tools now available and reality has been that, while enlightening, the available PFM data doesn't "do" a whole lot. That's not what the future looks like, says Albert Ko, svp of consumer solutions at Intuit. The company's gradual integration of its TurboTax software with FinanceWorks online banking offers a preview of the possibilities. "So if this year we pre-populated 10 percent of your tax return, next year we're going to pre-populate 30 percent," Ko says. "If you extrapolate that three to four years down the road we envisions a world where you're just reviewing your tax forms and submitting."

That is a tantalizing, and innovative, image, particularly given Intuit's research that indicates consumers visit an average of 13 separate Websites and spend eight hours organizing paperwork before they even sit down to do their taxes. The FinanceWorks/TurboTax product allows banks to offer a link to TurboTax from their FinanceWorks online banking Website. Customers pay for the tax prep software-as-a-service in a separate transaction with Intuit, and then can pull data from their bank account directly into the tax prep browser. About 1,200 banks deployed the solution this year out of Intuit's 1,400 -bank customer base; more than 200,000 returns were filed through those institutions. Bancorp South offered the product for a second tax season in 2010, and retail chief Michael Lindsey says more than 90 percent of his customers that used the software and received a tax refund deposited that refund into a Bancorp South account.

But for Bancorp South, there's also value in being associated with the TurboTax, Intuit and Quicken brands. Lindsey even tested offering free access to the tax software as an incentive to open a new DDA account. Making tax time a less onerous experience is bound to increase customer loyalty, he says, as does creating more reasons for a user to log in to online banking.

"Anything we can do as a bank that offers our customers the ability to have more control gives them more reasons to come back to our Website and look at their data," Lindsey says. The functionality of this solution is still in its early days, but "we're getting a lot of good feedback from our customers."

The innovation is one that all banks should take note of. Those that aren't Intuit online banking customers might be particularly nervous, given Intuit's hybrid identity-some of its divisions, like Mint.com, pose a threat to banks' connection to customers, and others, like the former Digital Insight platform, serve as a trusted partner to banks. Ko likes to stress the latter mission. "Our strategy at Intuit Financial Services is really increasing FI profitability, making them central to end-users' lives for all of their financial management," he says.

PFM and tax competitors also see the value in the idea. TurboTax competitor H&R Block announced a strategic alliance with Yodlee, effective for next year's tax season, that will import appropriate customer data from Yodlee's personal financial management applications.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.