Richard C. Breeden, former Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and current Orchestrator of Evil as H&R Block Chairman, has forced the Board to rename Alan Bennett as CEO of H&R Block, the second time he's been CEO in 33 months.
- - - - "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
Breeden and Bennett have a long relationship. Both sit on Block's Board, as well as the Boards of Worldcom and Applebees. Alan Bennett also coordinated the Proxy battle that resulted in both the ouster of 6 Block Board members and the casting of former H&R Block CEO Mark Ernst into a burning lake of fire.
Breeden also carries Bennett around in a foam-lined case originally owned by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.
Insiders (actually, just me) say that Breeden is thrilled to have Bennett back in the saddle, because Bennett will have the ability to champion Breeden's agenda from an operational standpoint, something Smyth could not, or would not do.
- - - - H&R Block, Powered by Turbotax?
Insiders also say that Breeden's agenda can be summed up as follows:
#1: Get out of the company-owned Block office business.
As Breeden proved when he decimated the field leadership team at Applebee's, he believes that the key to success is to have franchisees run his offices. That's a double-edged sword: Franchise offices tend to be more profitable than company-owned, but the belt-tightening needed to accomplish this leads to franchise owners not investing in things like paint or toilet paper, negatively impacting Brand quality, and client service. Nevertheless, Breeden so believes in the franchise model that he brought former McDonalds executive Russ Smyth over to be CEO for a week and a half.
#2: Get out of the H&R Block Bank business.
H&R Block Bank's charter was a vanity project for former CEO Mark Ernst, pure and simple. Ernst developed the method of putting an IRS refund on a prepaid debit card, and he didn't want to share any of the delicious fees with another bank. This proved to be fortuitous when Block subsidiary Option One Mortgage began to hemorrhage like Gary Coleman's brain: Ernst directed HRB Bank to buy some of the sh-tbag mortgages from Option One, covering its losses with Retail Tax profits.
(This was the moment, by the way, when Mark Ernst was designed Chief Executive A--hole by the company.)
#3: Either sell Block to Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax or Intuit, or acquire one of them, to inflate market share to pre-f-cked-up levels.
Forget the first two: JH is too cash poor, and Liberty Tax is too small. Intuit is the key here.
In recent years, Intuit's Turbotax software ate Block's lunch, and is now responsible for serving 22 million clients that, 20 years ago, would have had no choice but to be overcharged by Block.
Here's the equation: Turbotax = great software with no retail tax support. H&R Block = sh-t software with a HUGE Retail network behind it.
Now imagine Intuit acquiring Block, rebranding all offices with big orange check marks, calling them "TurboTax Centers," and selling and supporting the software therein.
An added benefit would be using the offices to sell and support Quicken, QuickBooks, and all of Intuit's small business solutions year round. From April through December, Block uses their offices to host tax classes and store next year's window signs.
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," said Bennett, accepting his appointment as CEO, Redux. "Despite what The Most Honorable Richard Breeden wants us to do, our agenda is mine. It is pure coincidence that our five-year plan is called 'The Breeden Doctrine.'"
"H&R Block will continue to polish the turd that is Retail Tax until it shines yet again," said Bennett, while logging onto The Ladders.
Responding to rumours of Block going out of business, Bennett laughed: "Block, go out of business? Just because we refuse to change with the times? Using an outdated business model never hurt Woolworth's, or TWA, or MCI-Worldcom, or Commodore Computers, or Pan Am, or Fotomat, or White Star, or Bethlehem Steel, or Polaroid, or Sharper Image, or McCrory's, or Studebaker, Auburn-Duesenberg-Cord, Tucker Automotive, Norton Motorcycle, Tne Waltham Watch Company, Moto Guzzi, Kojin United Fruit, British Leyland, Braniff International Airways, Atari, Inc., Chevron Racing Cars, Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company, Imagine Software, The Sanko Steamship Company, Crazy Eddie, Orion Pictures, Schwinn Bicycle Company, Wang Computers, Lionel Kiddie-City, Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood Hotel and Casino, Daewoo, 3dfx, Napster, Montgomery Ward, Ames Stores, The 3DO Company, Spiegel, Dublin City F.C., Tower Records, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Zoom Airlines, Borders UK, Crabtree & Evelyn, Filene's Basement, KB Toys, Ritz Camera, or Steve & Barry's, right?"