"3. If HRB's core business is so solid, why has it been so concerned over the past several years about diversifying and cross-selling?" ---
Why not? Other divisions would help smooth out revenues, with are largely confined to one quarter for a tax prep only business. Block has a long history of acquiring other companies (usually with little lasting success). Examples include a legal firm, a temp company, and Compuserve. A couple of other possible factors: "Everybody else is doing it." and "What are we going to do with all this cash we are producing each year?" ======
"Is this a question of seizing additional opportunities or grasping at straws?" --
The "grasping at straws" is not even close. Block wanted to diversify to make lots and lots and lots of money. The then (1997 & 1998) upper management looked at Block's possession of tax return data on all those clients. They then thought "boy all that data will give us a tremendous advantage in selling financial products to Block tax clients." Mark Ernst was brought over from AMEX (which had implemented a similar plan) to create the synergy among the various divisions.
Unfortunately, making use of that data is harder than it sounds. (For example, there are major privacy issues.) Also, many Block clients lack resources that they can invest; and those that do generally already have brokers and financial advisors. Finally, execution has been poor. It hasn't been a complete flop, but if you listened to the investor conference calls/webcasts from several years ago, you could hear management almost drooling over the prospect of making use of that data. They expected big things from the new divisions.
They bought a discount brokerage (Olde Discount) in 1999, but (on their website) don�t offer ANY discount brokerage products. And as a (soon to be former) HRBFA brokerage customer, I can say that I was NEVER asked if I was interested in a more robust product than the one I was �grandfathered in� with. In my case, it seems they are trying to be rid of an Olde Discount customer without ever making ANY attempt at growing the relationship. If they had, they could have found out that I was interested in doing business this year with both the Tax and Banking Units and have more resources to invest than my �discount� portfolio might suggest.
. . . I was NEVER asked if I was interested in a more robust product than the one I was �grandfathered in� with. In my case, it seems they are trying to be rid of an Olde Discount customer without ever making ANY attempt at growing the relationship. If they had, they could have found out that I was interested in doing business this year with both the Tax and Banking Units and have more resources to invest than my �discount� portfolio might suggest. - moorelindaellen
It sounds like you are in the pool, not assigned to a specific broker. An investment representative at any brokerage will shy away from discount customers since they either are too small or don't generate enough activity to justify the minimal revenue such a customer generates for the brokerage.
Another likely problem is being on the do not call list. No one will contact you from the other divisions. New brokers might call you, however if they always get an answering machine future contacts aren't made.
Don't you receive marketing inserts with your statements? Even if you receive your statements on-line there are links to other products. Check out the Block financial services web-site:
There are general tabs across the top of the website. The tabs are for tax services and investment services.
The real meat to the page can be found in the links at the bottom. Just below the dialogue box for investor education there are links to asset allocation, on-line investing, business advice, investment choices and more.