Intuit's Turbo wants to help you better understand your financial health

Frederic Lardinois

Few companies have more data about the financial health of individuals in the U.S. than Intuit, thanks to its TurboTax, Mint and QuickBooks tools. For the longest time, though, the company didn't bring these tools together. That's slowly starting to change however, as the company is realizing that in this new age of machine learning, it's this kind of data that allows it to offer a range of new products for its users. One of the first of these is Turbo, a new service that allows you to go beyond your credit score to better understand your financial health (and that will allow Intuit to run a more efficient and hyper-targeted partner platform for connecting its users with lenders and other financial institutions).

The company unveiled Turbo at the Money 20/20 conference today and plans to make it widely available in January 2018, once the next tax season opens up.

As Intuit's executive VP and GM of its consumer group Dan Wernikoff told me, the company did a lot of testing and experimenting since it first announced its plan of turning TurboTax into more of a platform last year. "So we decided to launch an application that would help people with their finances -- but do it very passively," he told me. The result of this is Turbo, which brings together your data from TurboTax and the aggregate data of millions of Mint users to help you get a better idea of your financial health. "There's never been a connection between [TurboTax and Mint] -- that was a lost opportunity," Wernikoff added.

You may think that if all your data already flows into Mint, then that's essentially the same as using Turbo, but Wernikoff noted that Mint users tend to use the service to gain a deep understanding of how they spend their money. It's only once you combine this data with the highly verified data from TurboTax (chances are, you're not going to file a fraudulent tax return, after all, right?), that you get a full picture of somebody's income and spend, though.

In this first version, Turbo is going to focus on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and income. Using anonymized data from across its user base, Turbo can then benchmark you against others in your location, age group and life stage to help you improve your debt-to-income ratio and other markers of financial help. "From the customer's standpoint, there's no work," said Wernikoff. "We are hustling in the background for the consumer because we understand their income, life events, etc."

Intuit isn't just doing this out of the goodness of its heart, though, of course. The idea here is that it can also offer its users highly curated offers from its partners. "It's a two-sided platform where you are working hard to get the consumer the best service possible and the financial industry enough context to put the best deal forward," said Wernikoff. So if you are looking to pay off a loan or mortgage, Turbo could connect you to a financial institution that can give you a lower rate, for example.

The first six providers on the platform are Discover, Honest Dollar by Goldman Sachs, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Quicken Loans, SoFi and TransUnion.

"We are excited to partner with Intuit’s Turbo," said Abhinav Anand, Head of Consumer Lending at Marcus by Goldman Sachs.  "This partnership will allow Turbo users to seamlessly access our fixed rate, no fee personal loan, which our consumers have found to be a helpful way to manage their debt. Partners like Turbo are important to us as we seek like-minded, consumer-centric brands to help Americans manage their debt better."

Intuit is clearly aware that many users may be hesitant to give the service the ability to do even more with their tax returns. Wernikoff stressed that this process if fully consent-driven and that the company takes its data stewardship very seriously and that this process is also highly regulated. He also noted that TurboTax won't sell any of its customer's data. "It's a trust business and our brand has a high level of trust because that's the foundation to what we do," he noted. After the Equifax breach, though, this may be more of an uphill struggle than only a few months ago.

  1. Turbo-DTI

  2. Turbo-CreditScore

  3. Turbo-Discover

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