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David Leary – 2014 40 Under 40 Honoree


David Leary, QB Online ProAdvisor – 39

Senior Development Evangelist
Intuit, Inc.
Tucson, AZ


What are the key areas of your firm that have seen the greatest change/challenge in workflow over the past few years? (Or, what are the key challenges you see firms facing?) 

The transition from desktop software to SaaS based cloud software is affecting all companies, both big and small, and seems to be headed down a “one business at a time” type model, versus a one size fits all industry migration.

The selection of an accountant and/or accounting system, is moving further down the lifecycle of a business. A decade ago finding an accountant, may have been a day two activity, but now a new business can get enough of what they need to run their business on their own (via a smart phone), in minutes. They may be deeply entrenched in systems and processes, before ever reaching out to an accountant. It is going to be a big challenge for accountants, to figure out how to get in front of these entrepreneurs, to have accounting related conversations earlier in the lifecycle of new businesses.

To what extent have you and your practice/company embraced cloud computing?

A few years ago, I wanted whatever screen or device I picked up to have all of my stuff, and the cloud was the only solution. I was an early adopter and migrated everything to the cloud: music, photos, email, books, movies, personal finance, banking, calendar, contacts, notes, to-dos.  I can now essentially work anytime and anywhere I choose.

Intuit has fully embraced the cloud with QuickBooks Online and We are leading small businesses and accountants towards a future in which they can use the cloud to work anytime, anywhere.

In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it a better place?

Over the years, I think the best thing I’ve done at Intuit was challenging the status quo.  From changing how we create, build, test, and support products e.g. having developers do tech support during the ViewMyPaycheck development process. To the pushing the comfort zone of Intuit being an open platform, by helping competing products integrate with QuickBooks Online and joining the family. I’ve also led the charge on making Intuit younger, more hip, and social.
In what ways do you participate in either the professional community or your local community to help others?

I really get excited about helping people build stuff. I love being involved in events like Startup Weekend, in which teams attempt to create a business from scratch in 48 hours. I’m always up for mentoring, providing feedback, sharing ideas, or connecting people with others that can help them take the next step in whatever they are creating.
What major changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?

The shift to industry specific cloud based SaaS solutions for small business. Customizing an accounting package, to be an 85% solution for a small business, no longer makes sense. In the future, clients will use a combination of an accounting package and an industry solution that together are a 100% solution for their business.

SaaS based accounting packages will become the exclusive domain of accountants. As clients move to industry specific solutions, they will also move away from doing any data entry into the accounting package, and may possibly never touch the accounting system.

Accountants will care about Open APIs. The reality is that all of a client’s data won’t solely live in the accounting package, but will be spread among many SaaS based solutions the client may use. Accountants will only choose solutions, that have Open APIs, for their clients to ensure they can always easily get the data in and out of any accounting/reporting/dashboard/tax prep/app etc. as necessary for each client.  (Any developers reading this should take note.)

How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?

I see myself being right in the middle of the vortex of small business owners, accountants, and developers. All three need each other to be successful, but sometimes they aren’t the best at communicating with each other. I am always looking for connection points between them so they can work more closely together.

What is your career philosophy?

Ignore your title, be accessible, be brutally honest, and care more than your competition.

Not including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why?

Netflix hands down. To have the courage to kill your core business model (shipping physical DVDs), years before it’s time, in order to focus your company on winning the next 10 years, is amazing. Not many companies can let go of their past, in order to survive into the future.

Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.

I would say my dad, Dave Leary, who worked in the construction industry. He instilled within me a hard work ethic, a can do spirit, and a fundamental need to create. In hindsight, I am thankful for those summers of my youth when he had me up 4 am, to go build houses in 100 degree Phoenix heat.


Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 Honorees.