avatar for Rita Arens

Rita Arens

H&R Block
Director, Digital Platforms & Support
Rita is a strategic storyteller and sense-maker. Her strengths lie in the areas of organizational and group communication, product strategy, managing teams, product and project management and cross-functional collaboration. She has a high tolerance for ambiguity in the workplace and enjoy a good challenge, combining technical understanding from product and project management with resilience and emotional intelligence forged from multiple employer mergers and acquisitions.
She leads digital product teams focused on evolving the way help is delivered to clients and driving the strategy for digital platforms. Prior to this role, Rita served as a manager leading enterprise content and strategy in the Marketing department where she applied influence theory to drive conversion improvements.
Rita received her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa and her Master of Arts in English from UMKC.  
Outside of H&R Block, Rita lends her time and passion to various local organizations such as the Central Exchange, where she currently sits on the board. She’s also a past board member at The Writers Place, and is the author of three books, including a new release in August 2019.

Get to know Rita (Interview done in tandem with co-panelist Vanessa Jupe)

Where will you focus your talk at FXD this year?
We will be discussing the intersection of digital and human experiences. Why and how do people reach out for help? When is data helpful and when do you have to look beyond the numbers? In what ways is technology helping or hurting the human connection?

What do you enjoy about the work you are doing in finance?

The work we do has a tangible impact on people’s lives. Everyone has to do taxes, but it doesn’t have to be a painful experience. We are really excited about the ways in which technology can make the tax filing process easier for our customers. We have a deep curiosity about how people make purchase decisions under stress.

What gets you most fired up in terms of a technology, tool, trend, or advancement?

Right now, we are really excited about the ways data can be leveraged to personalize and streamline digital experiences. AI, whether rules based or machine learning, is fascinating to us. We are also interested in tools that can help us better understand and connect the customer journey across touchpoints, both digital and physical. Lastly, we geek out about neuroscience and influence theory.

What do you think the future of financial experience will hold?

For tax, specifically, we will continue to see the experience simplify. We will continue to see more value being driven to the end user in terms of pricing and ROI.

What is the biggest obstacle you face in building a culture of design and innovation or putting a focus on wellbeing?

It always comes down to the human element. How hard is someone willing to work to make things happen? How influential can we be? How scrappy?

How might the industry solve it?

Companies should continue to evolve their processes. Scaled agile can drive alignment across an enterprise, Google-style design sprints can help drive focus… A lot of the improvements we think could be helpful in the industry are process driven.

What would you tell your younger self?

The challenges you face are the right challenges for you at this given moment in time. You can handle them and you’ll learn a ton.