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Credit cards and loans, delivered meals, meditation help considered for Member Benefits

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Member BenefitsFinancial, nutritional, and wellness needs for Bar members were recently addressed by the Member Benefits Committee as it recommended a credit card and loan service, a home meals delivery service, and a meditation app for inclusion in the Bar’s Member Benefits program.

The committee voted at its October 8 meeting to recommend Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG) as a provider of credit card and loan services for Bar members. The Bar’s prior member benefit deal with Bank of America for credit card and financial services expired in September.

The committee approved, and forwarded to the Bar Board of Governors for final consideration, Fresh Meal Plan, which delivers precooked meals to subscribers’ homes or businesses and a meditation app that offers not only instruction but also background about how meditation works.

The committee also is recommending Faster Law Suite, which has a program that works with Clio law management software to manage documents and emails, and particularly providing automatic time tracking.

Rudy Rigo and Scott Brennan, vice presidents for business development with BHG, which is 49% owned by Pinnacle Bank in Nashville, said the company was prepared to offer credit cards, loans, SBA products and debt collection services as members benefits. The committee voted to include credit card, SBA products, and loan services, but not debt collection.

Rigo and Brennan said BHG will offer six types of MasterCards through Pinnacle Bank with no membership fees and enhanced cashback payments.

On loans, they said, acts as a private equity direct lender. It can offer personal and commercial loans and be a conduit for Small Business Administration loans.

On the non-SBA loans, the company does a “soft” credit check that does not impact borrowers’ credit scores, can make a final decision within three to five days of initial application, does not require the borrowers to be personally liable for the loans, and does not report the loans to credit rating services.

BHG can offer up to $200,000 for seven years on personal loans, $500,000 for 10 years on commercial loans, and up to $5 million for SBA loans, where the federal government provides 75% of the funds.

BHG would be a nonexclusive provider, meaning the Member Benefits program could seek deals from other financial services providers.

While the Bar, similar to other member benefits providers, would be paid a fee for credit cards and loans issued by the program, there would be no direct financial benefit for Bar members other than the improved service, not having to be personally liable for the loans, and the loans not being reported to credit rating services.

That caused concerns to some committee members, but they ultimately voted 10-8 to recommend BHG to the Board of Governors.

“If I can borrow money from them and it doesn’t show up on my credit report and it doesn’t affect my [credit] record, to me that’s a member benefit,” said committee member Howard Rosenblatt.

If BHG doesn’t offer competitive interest rates, members will seek other lenders, he said, and the Bar remains free to seek other financial institutions in the Member Benefits program.

With Fresh Meal Plans, CEO Ian Grunes said the company allows subscribing members to order a set number of meals, prepared in the company’s Boca Raton kitchen, each week.

All the week’s meals are delivered at one time, are packed in special cooled containers, are packed in nitrogen to preserve freshness, and can be delivered anywhere in Florida within 24 hours and anywhere in the continental United States within 48 hours. The packaging keeps meals cooled for up to 72 hours.

A variety of meal and diet plans are available and Bar members ordering 10 or more meals a week will get a 15% discount, Grunes said, and depending on the number of meals ordered, the discounted price will range between $9.99 and $11.99 per meal. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are available.

For those traveling or on vacation, the meals can be delivered to their new location, he added.

“We deliver literally to your door. The meals come cooked and prepared; all you have to do is heat it and enjoy it,” Grunes said.

Committee members, in unanimously voting to recommend Fresh Meal Plan, noted it fits in with Bar goals to offer more health and wellness services.

The recommendation of the Waking Up app, which helps members with meditation, is also part of the health and wellness efforts.

Scott Hannans with the app company said the normal $99.99 price will be discounted to $79.99 for Bar members, with further discounts for those who buy multiple programs.

The app offers a 28-day introductory course and then daily exercises. It includes talks with teachers and scholars about how meditation works and helps those who use it.

The Faster Law Suite app offers document and time tracking services for lawyers using Clio office management software. Committee members who tried it said it was particularly useful in automatically tracking and billing for time, including such things as sending emails and making phone calls.

Committee member Michael Bloom said the $300 discounted price proposed for Bar members would be more than paid if users saved or were able to accurately bill for a few more minutes each day.

All the recommendations now go to the Board of Governors for its review, and final contracts must still be reached with all of the providers.

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