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H&R Block CEO On Why He’s Shaking Up The Way We Pay For Tax Work

April 15, 2019, 5:54 PM UTC

You can tell something new is going on when an old line firm like H&R Block starts shaking things up. The company’s new CEO kicked off this tax filing season with a television ad touting that tax filers will know how much they’ll pay for tax work before the work even begins.

What’s so disruptive about that?

It’s actually a dramatic break from long-time practices not only at H&R Block, but for the tax preparation industry.

CEO Jeff Jones says he came up with the idea for the ad campaign, “Know the Price Before You Begin”, after talking to H&R Block customers across the country.

“Hands down consumers said ‘tax preparation is the only thing, the only thing, that I have no idea what I’m going to pay until it’s over.'” says Jones. “So we recognized that we honestly had a chance to take a big bold step in the industry and promise people upfront transparent pricing. You will know before you begin what you’re going to pay. No surprises. No hidden fees–ever.”

Jones has made a career of paying attention to consumers at companies like Coca Cola, Gap and Target. Now, he says, he trying to reinvent H&R Block by responding to what he’s learning from customers of the Kansas City, Missouri company.

“I think one of the most important things I’ve learned as a leader from all of my consumer background is it’s not what I know, it’s what I learn from the consumer,” Jones explains. “Being consumer focused is really about listening, as I say, with your eyes and your ears.”

That kind of careful listening and observation may explain why Jones made a surprising decision to quit as President of UBER after just seven months in the job.

“I think as a leader you ultimately learn what matters most to you. Your own sense of right and wrong,” he says of his abrupt departure from Uber in 2017. “That company had very strong values and culture. But ultimately they weren’t consistent with mine.”

Watch the video above for more from my interview with Jones.