MB Raimondi: Some may be taking continuing education for credits needed to fulfill continuing education requirements for their certifications. But, that’s not really the reason you should continue to educate yourself. You do it to make yourself smarter. You do it to help your clients. You do it to keep your brain strong. You do it to learn new things. It’s amazing to me that every time I attend a QuickBooks webinar, whether as a presenter or attendee, I learn something new. Networking is an advantage when attending live training – both to learn new tips and tricks and to connect with others that may be referral sources.
Why is it important to continue taking training on QuickBooks and/or the ecosystem?
HS: Intuit® and its partners are continually improving and adding new features to their products in response to customer feedback and technology changes. It’s so important for ProAdvisors to stay on top of these changes to be an effective advisor to their clients.
MBR: QuickBooks and other Intuit products are constantly changing. QuickBooks Online updates every four to six weeks. QuickBooks Desktop updates every year. New features are added that we need to be aware of. Even payroll and payments make changes. If we don’t keep up with it, we’re doing a disservice to our clients. To help them and be a “trusted advisor,” we need to know what’s available.
As far as the QuickBooks ecosystem, new apps are being added for Desktop and Online on a regular basis. Although we don’t need to know every app in-depth, it is helpful to know what is out there and what distinguishes one app from another similar app. For the apps that you choose to learn more in-depth, you need to be aware of changes to those apps. For example, QuickBooks Time (and the QB Workforce mobile app) now has geo-fencing. If you have clients using QuickBooks Time, think about which clients might benefit from this improvement.
By far, what is the #1 question you get when you train for Intuit?
HS: The #1 question I am asked when I train for Intuit is, “Which app should I use for (a particular need)?” ProAdvisors are hungry for knowledge about which solutions to use and how to pick the right one. They are often unsure of where to start when adding apps to their tech stack.
For professionals with limited time, what types of training should they focus on first?
HS: I would recommend they start with the introductory sessions, such as Introduction to QuickBooks or Introduction to Apps. These sessions not only give professionals an overview of the product and concepts, but also suggestions on where to find additional resources and deeper training based on the topics they are interested in.
MBR: It depends on the focus of their practice. If they’re tax professionals, taxes. If they’re bookkeepers using QuickBooks, it’s QuickBooks. If they’re IT consultants, technology. You need to keep up with your core field or certifications before adding on other training. I’d love to take Excel training or PowerPoint training, but I just can’t seem to find the time to do it. Maybe when I retire, though then I won’t really need those skills!
Besides formal training on QuickBooks, what else would you suggest people do to gain product proficiency/expertise?
HS: I would strongly recommend that ProAdvisors just starting out use the free QuickBooks Online company (Your Books) in their QuickBooks Online Accountant account. The best way to gain expertise is by doing! They can also use the test drive company, Craig’s Design and Landscaping, to learn their way around QuickBooks and try entering test transactions.
MBR: Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Experience is the best teacher. Spend as much time in QuickBooks as you can. Even when certifying, it is a best practice to get into a sample file and play. It’s one thing to read about something and another to be able to do it just based on book learning or attending a webinar.
Practice will make you more comfortable and knowledgeable. I’ve mentored other ProAdvisors to help them learn QuickBooks. We work together on projects where I’m supervising/teaching and they’re doing the work. Also, I learn a lot when we’re writing training materials and preparing to go on the road. We play in our test files and figure out new things. It’s really sad when the trainers are on the road because we talk QuickBooks all the time and get excited when we log in and can share the new feature that we’ve seen! Our group of presenters are definitely QuickBooks nerds.
Why do you invest your time training other accounting professionals?
HS: I LOVE spending time with other accounting professionals in a collaborative environment and am passionate about sharing my knowledge with others. I learn so much from the people that attend our training events and adopt much of what they share about their own workflows and methods into my own practice.
MBR: I LOVE training people about QuickBooks. I started out teaching QuickBooks to end users (our clients). I learned so much about QuickBooks trying to answer their questions. It humbled me and made me think outside the box. It was a lot of fun and I still occasionally teach to this type of audience. The challenge in teaching our clients, as you probably already know, is that they have different levels of accounting/bookkeeping knowledge, which can present a challenge. It’s not bad … it’s just different.
When I joined the training team at Intuit many years ago and started teaching accounting professionals, I found that was equally as fun and maybe a little easier because most know the difference between a debit and a credit and have at least some idea of how numbers should go together and would recognize if there’s a problem (i.e., large totals in undeposited funds). And, I love the sharing and the networking. Because we all work with multiple clients, we bring so much experience and knowledge to the table. What’s even more amazing is this is a very cooperative group, not a competitive group. It is amazing how much collective knowledge resides within the ProAdvisor community and how willing people are to share their knowledge.
What impact has continuing education had in your life?
HS: Opportunities to learn are opportunities to grow, and I will never feel like, “Okay, I think I’ve learned enough.” Continuing education is a vital part of being a professional advisor and continually pushing your own boundaries and capabilities. It has challenged me and exposed me to ideas I would not have otherwise been exposed to or come up with on my own.
MBR: Oh my goodness. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for constantly educating myself. When I had a full-time tax practice, I was religious about taking tax seminars. I needed to know the changes to the law. I had to do best for my clients. In the QuickBooks world, I’ve been successful because I always continue to educate myself. I’m so honored to be on the training team, but I wouldn’t be on this team if I didn’t know the product really, really well. I wouldn’t be as high on the Find-a-ProAdvisor site if I didn’t keep up with my certifications. I have never really marketed. The Find-a-ProAdvisor site has been my main source of referrals. And, I get a fair amount of them – enough to keep me more than busy.
All of us have to prioritize our time. I’m thinking that you need to define the focus of your practice to help you figure out what certifications you need and what training you need to pursue. So, number one – if you are using QuickBooks for your clients, you need to know how the product works. It’s okay if you don’t want to learn inventory or don’t want to learn payroll. But, you do need to know all the basic accounting functions and how QuickBooks does them. Education helps, as does working in the product, and as you learn, you can better serve your clients.