Intuit’s AI bet is paying off

CFO Sandeep Aujla outlines AI’s role in the company’s strategy.
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· 4 min read

Like many companies these days, Intuit is betting big on AI. It’s invested around $20 billion on the acquisitions of Credit Karma and Mailchimp, and during a recent earnings call, CEO Sasan Goodarzi referenced its strategy to be “an AI-driven expert platform” for consumers and small businesses on multiple occasions. Over the long term, the company foresees small-business revenue growth of 15%–20% a year, and AI’s one reason why.

But Intuit’s not one of the many companies that jumped on the AI bandwagon after ChatGPT came out in 2022. It’s been developing its AI infrastructure since 2018, Intuit’s CFO and EVP, Sandeep Aujla, told CFO Brew. That development has enabled the company to roll out an AI assistant, called Intuit Assist, across all of its core products. Aujla spoke with us about how it works, and why it’s a key driver of Intuit’s growth strategy.

An AI assistant for tax, small business, and more: In 2023, Intuit had about 100 million customers and more than 18,000 employees and brought in $14.4 billion in revenue. Though it’s perhaps best known for its QuickBooks and TurboTax software, it also owns personal finance platform Credit Karma, which it acquired in 2020, and email marketing company Mailchimp, acquired in 2021.

Intuit Assist is now available in TurboTax and Mailchimp, and in beta in QuickBooks and Credit Karma. The assistant, which is trained on Intuit’s data, can answer a variety of queries. It can give TurboTax customers advice on how sending a child to college might change their tax outlook, for example. It can create automations for Mailchimp customers that email consumers who’ve abandoned their shopping carts, and it can look at Credit Karma customers’ data and give them personalized advice on how to finance major purchases.

Aujla, who previously was SVP of finance for Intuit’s small business and self-employed group and its technology organization, is especially excited about what Inuit Assist can do for small business (SMB) customers.

SMB owners “spend most of their time interacting with clients and that’s their passion,” he said. Intuit Assist can reduce the amount of time they spend on logistical work. For instance, it can summarize an email chain between a contractor and a client and propose an estimate. “That saves that person about half an hour having to decipher that email,” Aujla said.

The early-adopter advantage: Intuit Assist, Aujla said, has an advantage over more general AIs in that it’s built on the back of Intuit’s enormous data sets. It can make 65 billion machine learning predictions a day.

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“That’s the scale we are offering. It gives us a unique advantage in the era of AI,” Aujla said.

Intuit also has its own LLMs, which are trained on its data and are able to give customers “a more contextually aware answer” than they’d get from more general AIs, Aujla said. If you ask ChatGPT for advice on how to do a journal entry, he said, it might assume you want to know how to keep a diary. But Intuit’s LLM “understands that you’re talking about a financial question,” he said. To ensure accuracy, the company follows “very clear, defined AI principles” when using and training its AI, Aujla said, and “very deliberately tests and scales” it over time.

Monetizing AI: AI is a big part of Intuit’s growth strategy. The company plans to monetize AI in several ways, Aujla said: First, AI assistance will help onboard more customers, especially those who might find Intuit’s products complex or intimidating. Of the 100 million people who visit TurboTax’s website, for instance, only around 53 million actually sign in to the software, Aujla said. “AI can help us onboard them by giving them more confidence that they can do the taxes themselves.”

Intuit Assist can also direct customers to value-added services, such as access to live experts on tax or small business, Aujla said. “We are making it frictionless with one click,” he noted. “That is an upsell and that’s monetization.”

And AI is creating efficiency within Intuit itself. “We are getting our services-related businesses closer to a software-like margin, because we’re leveraging AI to do most of the work,” Aujla said. To give one example, he said, customer service reps once spent around six minutes typing up notes after each call. Now an AI summarizes the calls, and reps can quickly review the summaries and send them to Intuit’s CRM.

The CFO’s role, Aujla said, is not just to preserve the value that already exists but “absolutely to put growth points on the board” as well.

Correction 3/26/24: This story has been updated to reflect that $20 billion is the cost of Intuit’s acquisitions of Mailchimp and Credit Karma, and that 53 million Intuit customers signed in to TurboTax in 2023.

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CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.