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Blucora Working on Its Technology

The need to improve technology used by its financial professionals and provide services to tax and wealth management clients emerged as a major theme during this week’s earning webcast for Blucora’s third quarter ended September 30. Meanwhile, the shift of the federal income tax filing deadline to July 15 from April 15 shifted tax preparation revenue from the second quarter to the third quarter, while the inability for advisors to meet in person were a factor in a 27-percent decline in transaction-based commission revenue.

Blucora has two major business segments: TaxAct, which has software offerings for consumers and preparation software for tax professionals. The other is its wealth management business, Avantax, formed through the ongoing merging of the former H.D. Vest and 1st. Global and the more recently acquired HK Financial Services.

During the webcast, CEO Chris Walters talked of the need of “Aligning systems, processes and technology to improve efficiency and scalability”, along with “Maximizing financial professional performance by providing improved tools.”’

In 2020, Blucora has changed its leadership structure to further this effort. That includes combining all software efforts under Curtis Campbell and separating the chief information officer and chief technology officer teams “to bolster our technology efforts” and increasing the investment in technology across the company, Wolters said.

Third-quarter results were distorted by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attempts to curtal the virus’s spread.. Earnings for the most recently ended quarter were $26.2 million, a drop of 58 percent from $26.4 million. Overall revenue was $175.4 million, down 17.7 percent from $175.4 million in last year’s corresponding period.

The period was pumped up by the shift in tax software revenue. Tax revenue hit $39.4 million, more than 10 times the $3.6 million in the year earlier period which was outside of tax season

For the nine months, tax preparation revenue fell to slightly less than $3 million, off to $205.7 million a year ago. Walters spoke again about his belief Blucora  did not have its marketing message in the right place. The company has also been de-emphasizing free customers and aiming for taxpayers with more complicated needs.

Wealth management revenues were $135.9 million, a decline of 7 percent from $144.4 million a year earlier.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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