New Tricks for an Old Tax Preparer
Business Week (07/24/00) No. 3691 p.110; Timmons, Heather

Almost 16 million Americans use H&R Block to prepare their taxes. These people represent an untapped cross-selling opportunity. H&R Block COO Mark A. Ernst, who will become CEO on Dec. 31, envisions serving "Middle America." He believes banks and brokers overlook the low-to-middle-income market in their struggle to attract wealthy clients. There are skeptical "Block Watchers," however, who are unsure about the company's ability to adjust to a new direction. Earnings disappointments, technology glitches, and old lawsuits have hampered H&R Block's performance in the past. Still, Ernst's plan to sell financial services sounds reasonable, some analysts say. Ernst believes that with Block's built-in repeat customers, the company does not need to spend heavily on marketing--thus enabling the company to cater to clientele with smaller accounts.

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