If you’re a taxpaying American with a bank account, chances are you’ve interacted with Intuit’s products at some point. The company behind ubiquitous financial software programs Mint, TurboTax, and QuickBooks has established itself as the premier financial solution for millions of Americans. In the final weeks of 2020, it also expanded its reach with a $8 billion acquisition of credit score website Credit Karma.Kelly Wood
A trusted financial giant like Intuit requires a firm hand at the wheel of its own finances. For the past seventeen years, that hand has belonged to Mark Flournoy, senior vice president and chief accounting officer. Drawing from years of experience in accounting at companies like Adidas and accounting firm Ernst & Young, he brings not just wisdom but a strong sense of leadership inside the rapidly growing company.
When Flournoy first joined Intuit in 2003 as director of internal controls, he was focused on a role designed to build out Intuit’s internal control structure, while creating and upgrading the company’s less-developed technical accounting processes. At the same time, he also created an accounting principles group focused on establishing solid technical expertise and high-quality external reporting.
In his current role as the chief accounting officer, Flournoy has to keep a lot of different plates spinning: technical accounting, corporate tax functions, financial systems administrator, and so on. “You’re really expected to become a catalyst for change, a strategist, an operator, and a steward all in one,” he explains.
In previous years, chief accounting officers functioned as more technical experts than anything else. Flournoy’s function also encompasses a financial systems team that works across the company, go-to-market capabilities for the business, corporate tax, payroll operations, as well as duties to run the company’s global accounting and quote to cash activities.
Managing so many different tasks for a $9 billion in revenue fin tech company requires a principled hand at the wheel. Central to Flournoy’s mindset are the values of integrity, honesty, and transparency, which help him foster a cooperative environment within his department. “You need to share the right level of information to empower your team, so they can drive decisions without you needing to be involved in every facet of the business,” he says.
These priorities line up nicely with Intuit’s “True North Goals,” its internal corporate strategy that involves delivering the best results possible to key stakeholders (employees, customers, partners, and shareholders) while building the foundation for a stronger future.
He takes care to facilitate clear communication across the organization. “Not just the folks you lead, but your internal customers across the organization, both in and out of finance,” he emphasizes.
One major element of that communication is the Glint surveys that Intuit employees take nearly every quarter, which offers valuable feedback to management from the day-to-day workers. Based on the scores they receive from those surveys, Flournoy and his team work to keep their employees highly engaged with not just big-picture initiatives but also day-to-day activities.
It’s also vital, Flournoy says, to understand the needs of the business from more than just an accounting perspective. You have to be an accountant and a business partner, bringing strategic insights and strong knowledge of the business to bear when making decisions within a technical function like accounting, he notes.
One potent example of this is the Credit Karma acquisition. Flournoy is playing a major part in implementing Credit Karma into Intuit’s broader umbrella of online services. Intuit’s decision to move from “shrink-wrapped software in a box” to cloud-based SaaS services has opened the door to even greater accessibility for customers. With the addition of Credit Karma, Flournoy says, Intuit has now pieced together a suite of services that help consumers and small businesses succeed in achieving their personal financial goals.
What’s more, he’s particularly proud of Intuit’s merchant credit card services, payroll, and loans for small businesses, all with an eye to helping small businesses succeed. “It’s great to not just wait for the business to come to you, but going to them and asking: ‘What are you doing? Let’s talk about your vision and how to support it,’” he notes.
Flournoy also oversees the entire go-to-market function for Intuit’s fleet of products and ensures these new products and platforms reach customers as quickly as possible. “The reason finance is so involved in creating an awesome customer billing experience is that pricing and promotions, entitlement of our services, invoicing, collecting cash, recognizing revenue, are all part of our customer experience and in turn create financial transactions that end up in our financial statements,” he explains. “I’ve had to step in and really become a partner with our technology, product management, and marketing teams.” This way, not only do customers get the best experience but their transactions are conducted with the utmost integrity.
For Flournoy, managing such all-encompassing tasks means proactively cultivating relationships with the marketing and product management departments, as well as the executives. “Anticipate and talk to them about the strategy, then predict what particular vision they’re describing,” he advises.
“The reason I’ve been here for seventeen years is that it’s an incredible company,” Flournoy says about Intuit, whose dominance of the online financial services space offers him a host of exciting new opportunities in his long-standing role.
The key to the company’s longevity, he argues, is its flexibility. In its thirty-five years of existence, Intuit “hasn’t become complacent” but has constantly evolved and changed to anticipate the needs of its customers. “We try to disrupt our business every day, allowing us to stay one step ahead of the competition,” he says.
With the addition of Credit Karma to its robust roster of personal finance services, Intuit is set to expand its already vast reach even further, guided by Flournoy.
Congratulations to Mark Flournoy, outstanding thought leader and innovator in the industry, for this well-deserved recognition. At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. Think bold. Apply technology in new ways. Enhance experience. Realize value. This is the PwC experience.
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