Getting all emotional

Overly Emotional PwC Partner Reminds Everyone In the Most Emotional Way Possible Not To Get Emotional About Penn State

The following email came out of PwC this morning and before we get to the part where we all stand here with our jaws on the floor wondering what we just read, let's all take a moment and remind ourselves that this is still a sensitive situation, one that remains pretty heated and emotional for […]

What’s the Best Course of Action When Your Client Starts Sobbing Over Their Tax Bill?

Tax professionals require many traits: good with numbers; explaining complex issues; the ability to forego adequate sleep regularly; borderline insanity, among others. One talent that some tax gurus, certainly not all, possess is that of makeshift therapist. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense, since Americans hate taxes and the IRS.

This passionate resentment obviously leads to strong emotions and sometimes actions; emotions that have to be addressed by tax professionals. Many situations that CPA, EA, or tax attorney encounter necessitate the phrase “calm your ass down.”


From the San Francisco Chronicle, a few examples include, marital relations “My actual designation is enrolled agent, but it should be marriage and family counselor…Sometimes I know about a divorce before the spouse. Or I’ll get a call after a couple has just had a hellacious fight, and she or he wants to have the tax refund put in another account.”

Then of course, the overall warped fear of the IRS that no amount of Xanax will help subside:

“People have had it drilled into their heads that the IRS is as close as we can get to the secret police,” says Stephen Graves, a CPA in downtown San Francisco who has been preparing tax returns for more than 40 years.

“The IRS (audit) is the adult equivalent of being called into the office — it’s a very interesting, basic emotion,” he adds. “Twenty to 30 percent of my job is kind of like being a shrink, and guiding them through that fear.”

However, the biggest common denominator that tax pros report is the weeping. All clients have personal problems of some sort but when you break the news to them that they owe the Feds a grip of cash, that can be too much to bear.

Your inclination may be to roll your eyes and drum your fingers on your desk until they get it out or to point at them accusingly and shout, “Jesus! Pull yourself together man!” but this would not be the advised course of action. The most effective? Nod, listen and don’t get all judge-y:

[T]heir techniques are decidedly un-quantitative. “I listen…I try not to patronize them and say, ‘Everything will be OK.’ I try and be a good listener. A lot of times people just need to get it off their chest and get on with it.”

“I try to be empathetic…Nobody leaves my office without a hug.”

There’s the answer friends. Hugs. More hugs.

Tears and taxes: Meet my therapist, the accountant [SF Chronicle]

Grant Thornton Gets Emotional in Its Ad Campaign

This morning we took a look the deadly advertising at BDO and while they came up with a good tagline, they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to personalize their service with actual clients.

In contrast to the utilitarian feeling of the BDO advertising, Grant Thornton is all about emotions. The most important statement that a professional service agency can make is that it is passionate for the client’s business, and Grant Thornton’s attitude is authentic. The firm is well defined by the tag line, “People who love what they do” and by the whimsical rose mnemonic.

The three spots in the campaign are not balanced. This one about customer service misses the mark. It is long and tedious and continues to run needlessly after the point is made.


This commercial extolling the global capabilities of Grant Thornton is better. It is well written and although it is not particularly visually arresting, it makes the point about the firm capabilities crisply.

The commercial about responsiveness is the best. It stands out because it uses humor and the analogy of the unreliable, hapless goalie is relevant and easily understood. All in all, Grant Thornton tackled the challenge of advertising a professional service firm well.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner will GT take the next logical step and extend their passion campaign in to special topical ad?

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.