Brad D. Smith

Brad D. Smith
President and CEO
Intuit Inc.

Last Updated: 06/26/2014

Executive Summary

After successfully leading several of Intuit's major businesses, Brad Smith was named the Intuit's President and CEO in 2008. Intuit marked its 25th anniversary that same year, and Smith commemorated the occasion by creating a strategic vision for the organization that honored the past while looking at growth catalysts for Intuit's future. "There were four major shifts occurring in the market that would require us to change: demographic shifts with the emergence of the digital generation entering the work force; the impact of social networks and user-contribution systems to add value to products and services; the accelerating growth rates of SaaS [software as a service] and mobile devices as a means to get things done; and a world increasingly without borders," Smith said at the time. "Those four tenets became the core of our new growth strategy and how we will continue to make our offerings even better in the future." The Company is a leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, financial institutions, consumers and accounting professionals, and as part of Smith's strategic vision is increasingly focused on helping to drive the shift to a connected services economy.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • He practices karate and plays the saxophone.
  • He told the New York Times in 2014, "I was in martial arts starting at the age of 14, and I got my black belt by the time I was 18. Soon after, I was teaching an entire school, with about 150 students. It was unbelievably intense because of the self-awareness part of becoming a black belt."
  • In the same interview, he talked about his childhood: "I grew up in a small town in West Virginia called Kenova. It’s the city where the plane crashed from Marshall University. I watched the mountain burn, and my cousins were the volunteer firemen. I was 6 years old at the time. My dad worked for Nestlé for 26 years and ended up being the mayor of our hometown. One of the lessons I learned from him was to never mistake kindness for weakness. They said about my dad that when he walked into the room, the first thing you saw was a smile and the last thing you remember when he left was a smile. My dad could be very tough on the issues, but he treated everybody like a human being — always be kind and generous, but always stand your ground."
  • His favorite charities are those helping young children with special needs and those advancing educational programs, such as Donors Choose.
  • He enjoys wearing his class ring, as a reminder of where he's from. Smith has continued to give back to his alma mater as a mentor to students. While teaching them to follow their dreams, he's also gaining knowledge about the digital generation.
  • Smith has gone to great lengths to motivate his employees, many times donning a costume in celebration of a sales or product launch goal the team accomplished. In 2006, he told his team he would put on a 1920s bathing suit and jump in a pond if they met the launch deadline for the latest version of QuickBooks. His outfits have ranged from a Roman soldier to Elvis Presley as a reward to his team for a job well done.
  • When he was named to the CEO role, Smith went on a listening tour to talk to the board of directors, other CEOs in Silicon Valley, and investors. "I primarily asked three questions: 'What do you see as Intuit's biggest untapped opportunity, what is the biggest risk facing Intuit that keeps you up at night, and what is the biggest mistake I can make as a CEO in my first year?' There was a wealth of learning and consistency from what I heard that helped frame the priorities for my first year as CEO," Smith says.
  • At work, Smith takes time to inspire and encourage his employees. "I encourage our employees to seize every opportunity to move into areas where they have little or no domain expertise and are forced to rely on the power of inquiry and learning to be successful," he says. "In today's world, things change rapidly and positions don't come with instructions. The ability to learn, adapt and execute is critical.
  • "I find that one of the most powerful motivators is defining clear goals, and giving employees the resources and decision-making authority to do what they do every day -- deliver their best effort to make a difference," Smith says. "At Intuit, we've introduced concepts like unstructured time to enable individuals and small teams to be entrepreneurial and identify new processes or product ideas."
  • Smith feels that, "The next decade's leaders will be those who remain grounded in what matters most to customers while embracing the future.

Current Focus

  • Taking next step in evolution of personal finance capabilities: In June 2014 Intuit completed the acquisition of Check for $360 million, reported MarketWatch. Commenting on the acquisition Barry Saik, Intuit senior vice president said, “This acquisition will accelerate Intuit’s ability to offer bill pay across personal finance and small business products.” It will also “create opportunities to retain, attract and serve additional customers… Our commitment to solving important personal finance problems is steadfast. By joining with Check, we continue to address consumer needs and are taking the next step in the evolution of personal finance capabilities.”
  • Partnership with American Express: Intuit and American Express OPEN in April 2014 announced the launch of ReceiptMatch with QuickBooks, ZDNet reported. According to the journal, the benefits are twofold. Since tagging can be done on the fly as purchases are made, an in-house bookkeeper no longer has to sit down and manually tag the expenses in QuickBooks. And with the IRS accepting digital receipts, the wallet-heavy paper versions can be thrown away. Intuit has been announcing partnerships and product integrations about once a quarter, which according Dan Wernikoff, the SVP of Intuit's Small Business Financial Solutions Group, will continue going forward. "For us it's about finding the most pervasive systems that businesses use," Wernikoff said. "We want to make all of the solutions they use work together."
  • Grow customers faster than revenue:  In February 2014 Intuit raised its third-quarter earnings forecast for fiscal 2014 due to strong demand for its online tax-preparation software, TurboTax, in the U.S. tax-filing season and said it aims to double the number of customers in its biggest unit. Smith said Intuit's goal was to double its 5 million customers over the next five years in its small business group unit, under which it provides its flagship accounting software, QuickBooks. "We want to grow our customers faster than revenue because we think that builds the healthiest business for next year," Smith told Reuters. The company expects revenue at the small business group unit to grow 10-12 percent in 2014.
  • Opportunities:  “Our big opportunity right now is we've transformed the Company to have products that focus on two goals,” Smith said in October 2013.  “One is be the "operating" system behind small businesses' success around the globe. And the second, is to do the nation's taxes, today in both Canada and the U.S. What we've done though is tear down all the walls in the products, by opening them up as platforms — platforms that enable our own products to be seamless, but also allow products like Square and others to work with ours as well.  I think the one biggest opportunity we have right now is to do with accelerating our ecosystem around the globe,” added Smith.
  • Encouraging Customer Fiscal Health:  In January 2014, Benzinga reported that users of Intuit’s tax preparation software will be informed about options for reducing or eliminating student loan debt in partnership with the US Department of Education.  Intuit said it would insert ad banners in the online version of TurboTax that link to the US Department of Education’s repayment calculator where those with student loan debt can determine their eligibility for one of several repayment options.  In a statement from the U.S. Department of Education announcing the partnership, US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said, “As student loan borrowers file their taxes this year, I’m pleased that many of them will have an opportunity to determine if they can lower their monthly student loan payments through an income-driven repayment plan.”  Smith added, “We are excited to be collaborating with the Department of Treasury and the Department of Education on such an important issue, student loan repayment. At Intuit, our purpose is to improve an individual’s financial life so profoundly that they don’t go back to the old way of doing things. This collaboration fits right in with the purpose and is aimed to help all individuals, especially Intuit customers, become aware of and become empowered to take control of their student loans.”
  • Partnership with Square:  Smith discussed the Company’s partnership with Square in an October 2013 interview with ZD Net.  “It's actually a perfect synergy between the two companies. The reason being is because today when you look at the small business landscape, there are about one-third of the companies that interact in a face-to-face way. They have a retail location, like a restaurant, and there are a lot of people there transacting with payments. Square has done a wonderful job in focusing on that market,” he said.  “There's another large population that are service-based businesses. They're remote workers, or they mow lawns, or paint houses, and clean pools. They send invoices, and that's where we spend most of our energy on our payments business. At the end of the day, though, customers need a payment to flow into something. We have that ecosystem with QuickBooks Online. So, our ability to allow a small business to accept payment with whatever method that works for them — whether that's Square, or our own products — but to have it flow directly into QuickBooks eliminates the pain of the customer having to enter in the data twice. It allows [Intuit] to focus on the service-based businesses, and allows Square to focus on retail and restaurant businesses, and basically have everything work seamlessly. That's why it's been a big win for us: it reinforces that we're an open platform,” added Smith.
  • Best Place to Work:  Intuit was listed among the Best Places to Work by Fortune magazine in January 2014.  Intuit offers amenities from trainer-led exercise classes, to cafes with healthy eating options. However, ABC News reported that Intuit has a different management style it thinks makes it a great place to work. "I serve 8,000 employees, that's my job," Smith said. "I work for them, and the entire senior leadership team believes the same thing. We try to put a death to PowerPoints, politics and persuasions. We let the meritocracy, the best idea, come out."  Perks include having four hours of paid time a week to work on personal projects and money for health-related expenses. "Every year we have $650 that we can use to get reimbursed for like health and exercise lessons," software engineer Alice Wu said. "I've actually used that to get certified to go scuba diving, which is amazing."
  • Consumer Tax: Fiscal 2014 is a pivot year for Consumer Tax, according to Smith. He said, “In the upcoming season, we are laser-focused on driving improvement in three critical areas. First, we intend to improve the conversion of new users with a simpler experience to help customers through their tax return with increased speed, ease and confidence. Second, we’re streamlining the returning user experience, unleashing the power of customer data to simplify the tax prep process and help them easily understand year-over-year changes in their tax return. And third, we’re creating a unified help and answer experience, driving TurboTax customers to clear explanations on everything that is tax related, including the Affordable Care Act…”
  • Accelerate Global Adoption QuickBooks Online: In November 2013 Seeking Alpha reported that Intuit would roll out to the new QuickBooks Online to existing QuickBooks Online and desktop customers in 2014.  Smith said, “We’re marketing this capability more aggressively to our desktop base as the new QuickBooks Online rolls out more broadly."  He continued, "We’re complementing these efforts with strong promotional incentives for accountants and small businesses to drive adoption of QuickBooks Online, and will continue to target and test promotions in different markets around the globe. To accelerate the global adoption, we’ve strengthened our Intuit Partner Platform for third-party developers in the U.S., in Canada, in the U.K., Australia and India, the five priority countries where we’re currently focused. We strengthened our APIs, making it easier for developers to build solutions that seamlessly integrate with QuickBooks Online, and we’ve upgraded our apps.com distribution that showcases our developer partners, now making their apps easily discoverable from within the product at the moment of need.”
  • Focus on Fundamentals:  Smith identified several opportunities and fundamental themes that he thinks will affect the Company in a 2013 interview with Forbes.  He says that the Company must create an “amazing customer experience.”  Smith says the first user experience is part of the “awesome product experience” because it impacts what Intuit calls time to benefit. Intuit defines awesome as getting from log on to benefit in the shortest amount of time. Smith states that once a consumer has downloaded an app or signed up for a service, the company providing the service has one opportunity to “Wow” the customer. For companies that have been producing products for years, such as Intuit, the company must re-imagine these products as if they were built as a mobile first and mobile-only experience. In May 2013 he reported to analysts that the company has made progress "in several key areas, growing new customers that were first-time filers and former tax store customers, as well as significantly increasing mobile adoption...The central pillar of our go forward tax strategy is to deliver an awesome product experience. This is the key to driving awareness and improving conversion. The TurboTax experience has to be drop-dead simple and more personalized if we're going to win share in the digital category and earn the business of the 40 million assisted tax filers who are willing to try software. Our experiment this season tell us that personalization works. Our military and mobile offering delivered a more personalized experience for these specific customers this year to easily file their returns. As a result, we saw double-digit growth this season from the military and the digital native customer segments. Given our scale and our data capabilities, we plan to extend this advantage to even more taxpayers next season...We've set a high bar for ourselves to deliver our products so personalized, simple and accurate that customers don't have any questions. But if they do, we need to have the right resources and business model in place to answer them effectively and efficiently...activity is already well underway for next year with an intense focus on an improved product and an improved customer experience."
  • Connected Services Strategy: The company has put forth a "Connected Services strategy" that entails delivering "awesome product experiences that have been designed for a mobile-first, mobile-only world and deliver an amazing first-user experience to accelerate new user growth; second, to enable the contributions of others, enlisting our end users and third-party developers to participate in localizing, configuring and adding value to our products; and third, to use customer data to create delight, making our products easier to use while delivering breakthrough benefits for our end users."
  • Strategic Focus: Smith concentrates on achieving Intuit's overall mission of becoming the premier innovative growth company that improves its customers' financial lives so profoundly that they can't imagine going back to the old way. The three-point strategy he laid out for the Company supports this overall mission, and includes the following: Driving growth in the core businesses where Intuit has high share versus look-alike competitors, but low penetration versus the overall market opportunity; Building adjacent businesses and entering new geographies, with a particular emphasis on emerging markets; and Accelerating the transition to a greater mix of connected services, which now represents over half of the Company's revenue.
  • Global Growth: With the skyrocketing growth of emerging economies, there are predicted to be 1 billion new middle-class consumers in the global economy over the next decade, many from developing countries. As a result, innovations targeting developing country demand must be developed, adopted and adapted globally. In response to this explosion of global growth, Intuit recently launched Intuit GoConnect in India. "Aimed at the country's millions of micro and small businesses, the service makes it easy to create and distribute personalized messages that resonate with their customers. It's more effective, less costly and easier to use than manual marketing methods, and can be used via SMS or the Web, which is ideal for that geography and demographic," said Smith. For the Company to continue to succeed, it must not only localize products and services, but create new ones to meet the needs of this new middle-class.
  • Multiple Models: Smith is bullish on providing multiple business models for customers. "We have a desktop version of the product, we have a mobile, we have the online, but the customer can choose the platform and the service," Smith explained in an interview with CIO Magazine. "Then we simply make sure that the product works with that device to solve the problem they want [to solve]. You have a lot of pure-play companies that are only cloud-based or are only desktop-based. What you find is for a different kind of job, customers don't want that particular kind of solution. You need to give them choice. Think customer back. What's the problem they're solving? How best to solve it? Then use the technology that best does that." Intuit is boosting sales of its financial-management and tax-preparation programs with online and mobile versions, helping make up for a slowdown in desktop software. The Company is also expanding its Mint.com website and QuickBooks Online financial software internationally.
  • Social Media Revolution: Smith noted in an interview with Investors Business Daily, "Social media for us is empowering our employees and empowering our customers. And it's about allowing them to add value in new ways." For employees the Company developed a product called Brainstorm, which allows an employee to share an idea. Other employees can basically "join" that idea and try to develop a solution that ultimately becomes a product to be built. "We're kind of like Google where 10% of our employees are able to work on anything they think will help solve an important problem for our customers. We have generated a 1,000% increase in new ideas through Brainstorm and the number of employees participating in this unstructured time has increased by about 500%. Right now we have 1,800 ideas logged on Brainstorm. So that's a pretty cool thing. That's how employees in a social world are participating in how our company is being successful." On the customer side the Company has developed a live community inside Turbo Tax, and forty percent of customer questions are now answered by a live community of other Turbo Tax customers. "It was so successful that we've now put live community in all of our major products -- the QuickBooks have it, the accountant products have it and we're getting millions upon millions of customer questions answered by customers," said Smith.

Key Challenges

  • Unseen Competition:  Smith told ZD Net in October 2013 that the competition he can’t see keeps him up at night.  “With the barriers coming down of mobile devices and public cloud, the competitors are coming out of garages and college dorm rooms, and the bedrooms in their home. And they're innovating in ways that keeps us on our toes. So I want our teams to keep their radar open and make sure that they're scanning the landscape for the next big disruption.”

Biographical Highlights

  • Born c. 1965
  • Received a BS in Agriculture from the University of Illinois 1994, a BBA from Marshall University and an MBA from Aquinas College. He is also a 2004 graduate of the Illinois Ag Leadership Program.
  • PepsiCo, Incorporated
    - Held various sales, marketing and general management positions
    - Held various sales, marketing and general management positions, 7-Up
  • Held various sales, marketing and general management positions, ADVO, Inc.
  • Held several executive positions including Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, ADP (1996- 2003)
  • Intuit Inc.
    - Accountant Central and Developer Network (2003-2004)
    - SVP and General Manager, Consumer Tax Group (2004-2005)
    - Senior Vice President and General Manager, QuickBooks (2005-2006)
    - Senior Vice President and General Manager, Small Business Division (2006-2008)
    - President and CEO (2008-present)
  • He and his wife, Sara, were recognized as winners of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Achievement Award (2004).
  • He was ranked #7 in the list of Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs for 2014.
  • In his personal life, Smith enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Other Boards and Organizations

  • Former Member, Board of Directors, Yahoo! Inc. (2010-2012)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Nordstrom, Inc. (2013-Present)

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Contact Information

2632 Marine Way
Mountain View, CA, 94043
United States

650-944-6000

brad_smith@intuit.com


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Personal Interests

  • karate
  • saxaphone

Other News and Interviews

Read his 2014 interview with the New York Times