Aleksia Kainovic was born in Chicago. She has worked as a tax preparer for the past 5 years at her family’s franchise (H&R Block). Her family has been involved in tax preparation for 30+ years.
Aleksia is an undergrad at American University in Washington DC majoring in Economics. She decided to go back to school about two years ago. She initially studied accounting, but then she decided to switch to studying economics. Economics was more interesting for her because it was more theoretical and is more of an applied science, whereas accounting is so linear. She could see so many more opportunities for herself with a degree in economics. Aleksia Kainovic would not be limited to tax and accounting fields. She could also get involved in data science or economic policy and analysis and will have more career choices.
Tell us a little about your industry and why you chose to become a tax preparer?
I chose to become a tax preparer mainly because my parents owned a tax preparation business and I pretty much grew up around it. There is also a possibility of me being their successor once they retire as well. I am tied into it because it is a family business, and I don’t plan on giving it up entirely, but I also want to explore things on the side as an individual and that is why I wanted to go back to school and study economics.
What surprised you the most when you started your career, what lessons did you learn?
What surprised me the most was definitely seeing the loyalty of clients and how much they come back to you year after year. They really trust you once you’ve done their taxes. If they like the way you’ve done it, they will come back to you.
I was also surprised how many changes there are in the industry. You have to constantly be on your toes learning new tax laws, not to mention technological changes. H&R Block specifically is always advancing itself in some way, and there is always some new piece of equipment, an update, or a client offer to remain relevant in the industry. I commend them for that.
I have learned that dealing with clients can be really challenging sometimes, but at the same time it’s very rewarding. You’re not going to know everything because there are constant shifts in the industry. You will have to look back in your notes a lot to make sure that you give factual and reliable information.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?
Be prepared for fluctuations in the business cycle. There are slow seasons and there are peak seasons. During slow seasons, you can get a little accustomed to the decline in pace, and then all of a sudden you are hit with a tsunami and you don’t have a chance to breathe. Be prepared to be busy, but don’t get too comfortable when it’s slow. Use that time to learn more about the industry.
When it comes to taking care of clients, I would say be honest and truthful. Do the best you can to help your client without thinking about your personal gain.
If you could change anything about your industry what would it be and why?
I would definitely change some of the tax laws if I could. I think some of them can be unfair, like limits on itemized deductions on Schedule A, medical expenses and property taxes. As tax preparers, we don’t create the laws, we just enforce them, but sometimes we’re the ones that get the short end of the stick.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I think my colleagues would describe me as selfless, always lending a helping hand and keeping the office in order, at least I hope so. I always put in effort to make everybody feel like we are one big team. I try to create a positive atmosphere at the office. I like to buy donuts and coffee on the weekends when I know we’re going to be busy to ease some tension. I like to throw pizza parties when we’ve had a successful peak season. I think it’s hard enough working long hours, dealing with contentious clients, and the least I can do is create a warm atmosphere at the office.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
It has been hard to have clients trust me with their taxes because I am a lot younger than some of my colleagues. Some of my colleagues have been doing this for 20+ years. Developing a reputation as a credible tax preparer can be challenging at times.
Another obstacle has been dealing with emotional outbursts of clients who are not prepared for their tax liabilities. You kind of have to have thick skin in this industry.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My mom has definitely been a role model to me. She is only a desk away and there whenever I need support or assistance on a complicated return. My mom is literally like a human computer. She remembers everything, and she very rarely has to look up information. She remembers all the nuances of the tax laws. She remembers everything. She also has this unique ability to do many calculations in her head without using a calculator.
What does success look like to you?
Success for me is being able to help people that are stuck in difficult situations, like getting a letter from the IRS. It usually makes people really nervous. Assuring them that I’m going to do my best to try to help them solve the issue makes me feel like I’m not only a tax preparer, but a support system for them.
I also enjoy helping people get every tax write-off or deduction that they didn’t even know they were entitled to. When they get a lot of money back and they thank you for helping them, those are moments that are rewarding for me.