Providing Benefits That Can Really Help Your Employees, with Brogan Van Kleef

AccountingWEB Workshop: November 30, 2000
Presenter: Brogan Van Kleef, Director of Pre-Paid Legal Services

Session Moderator: Today we're happy to welcome Brogan Van Kleef. Brogan has been on the professional staff of two of Dallas's largest CPA firms as a tax accountant. She has also been the Director of Human Resources for a top Dallas CPA firm. In that capacity, Brogan was responsible for recruiting, retention, training, and benefits evaluation. Brogan received her Bachelor of Accountancy degree from New Mexico State University. She served in the U.S. Army as an Aviation Officer with assignments as the Human Resources manager for two units of over 250 service members. Brogan brings expertise in the field of legal plans and how they meet the unique needs of accounting firms of North America. Brogan is now a Director and Independent Associate with Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc.

Welcome Brogan - the floor is yours!

Brogan Van Kleef: Hello, My name is Brogan Van Kleef and I want to welcome you and thank you for attending this workshop. It is my goal today to give you an additional profit center for your firm. If you have 25 employees, this could be a $25,000 hour for you.

You will have follow on questions after this workshop. I will be online for two hours following this workshop. My email is brogan_vankleef@prepaidlegal.com or you may call me at 972-333-4910.

One of my associates on November 11th just helped a customer save $25,000 per month. The program I am about to show to you will do that for you. You can save $500 to $1000 per employee per year by adding this to your company. Adding bottom line dollars to your December Income Statement.

Many of you may have never heard of a Legal Services Plan. Let me answer the first questions then, What Is It? It is to your attorney fees what major medical is to your doctor and hospital fees. I planned on covering the following topics in this order today; we might not get to them all: learn how to use legal plans as an employee benefit to enhance employee productivity, learn how to use legal plans as a recruiting tool and a tool to retain great employees, discuss opportunities to use legal plans as a value added service to your clients, learn how to monetize their web site and increase web site traffic while providing legal resources to visitors to their site, Participants will be exposed to various legal plans available on the market today from the three companies offering these plans, explore various ways to finance Legal Plans at little or no cost to the firm.

How many HR managers or firm administrators do we have?

Session Moderator: We'll probably have many reading the transcript later.

Brogan Van Kleef: How many do we have that are marketing directors or business developers?

Karen Goncalves: One

Patti Varsolona: Firm administrator.

Brogan Van Kleef: Great. How many Professional Staff looking for ways to lower the legal costs for their small business clients. Okay just wanted to see who my target audience was so that I could tailor the discussion.

How to use legal plans as an employee benefit to enhance employee productivity. Why offer a legal plan as part of your benefits package?

The world is more complicated today than ever before. Almost half of all employees will have at least one legal need this year (American Bar Association's Consortium on Legal Services and the Public). Almost half the employees who take time off from work do so to deal with problems that are either legal or legal-related (LSK Associates Study). You are three times more likely to be in a courtroom than hospitalized (Hospital Statistics: Emerging Trends & examining the Work of State Courts). One out of every two Americans will need the advice of an attorney during the next twelve months. Of these, nearly half will attempt to deal with the matter on their own (Legal Needs and Civil Justice: A Survey of Americans).

You probably know that employees simply do not perform well when troubled, distracted, or under stress. Your employee’s legal problems cost you money in terms of:

ABSENTEEISM
REDUCED PRODUCTIVITY
INCREASED HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS

Personal problems can seriously impact a firm's overall performance and overall profitability. Studies show that employees with legal problems usually:

  • Are absent five times more then average
  • Use their medical benefits four times more than average
  • Use sick leave twice as often as the average employee
  • Experience a substantial reduction in their productivity
  • As an example, a firm with 25 employees earning an average salary could save on average $15,075 just in recovering the absenteeism costs. I have a great chart, but it is not good for this format.

    Session Moderator: We would be happy to include your chart as a link in the workshop transcript.

    Brogan Van Kleef: Great I will get the chart to you.

    As the HR Director of one of the largest accounting firms in Dallas, I was often taken from my recruiting and training duties to aid employees with personal issues that would have better been solved with the assistance of a good attorney. Everything from minor traffic tickets, to child custody and support issues, to consumer rights issues. Just think about what you hear around the water cooler. Many legal issues took our employees vacation and sick time away from their intended uses and when those were gone left us with employees frequently distracted from work.

    Accounting Firms in North America have gone to great lengths to keep, attract and make life easy for great accountants. We have added benefits, services, and perks until our profit margins are very slim. So why add another one now?

    Number One: This one can cost you nothing! And improve your bottom line this month.

    Number Two: 30% shortage of graduating accountants is always a good reason to keep your best and attract the best. AICPA tells us that the vision for the future of accounting firms is in becoming consultants to our clients. That means increasing our service to existing clients. Many mergers have left us with larger markets to serve and fewer accountants to service them. Bottom Line we need every accountant to be hard working and focused.

    What is your average cost of hiring an accountant? National average for starting staff is about $30,000. If you have to go through a recruiter that is about 25 to 30% of the first year's salary. If you are hiring them out of college, then you have the travel costs, meals and entertainment expenses, cool give away stuff, and the man-hours of courting the prospect. I have even incurred the costs of the Immigration lawyer for the H1B Visa to obtain a great accountant. It gets more expensive as the market of available accountants gets smaller.

    Have your experiences been similar? How many of you have lost great accountants due to personal reasons? Did they have to stay home to take care of aging parents? Move to a higher paying position to cover legal costs?

    That is why I left, what I consider to be the best accounting firm in Dallas. My husband was fighting a bureaucracy and I needed a higher paying job to help front the legal bills. We had already taken out our investments, closed our savings accounts and borrowed from family to pay the legal bills. My mind was definitely not on preparing tax returns during those months, and it showed in my work-papers and in my efficiency.

    I know from water cooler chats that people that I worked with in the tax department had legal problems and could have used this legal plan.

    You can help your employees with personal matters such as child support and custody or even adoptions by giving them access to an attorney at an affordable rate.

    One tax senior was marrying a man who was divorced and was trying to get full custody of his two daughters. The custody battle consumed the woman's every free moment. She even told of how the custody battle had started to impact the relationship between her fiancé and herself. If they could have had good legal counsel, she and I wouldn't have spent so many hours discussing the legal aspects of being a stepparent and custody issues. We could have gotten two or three big returns done in the time we stole away at the soda machine.

    Sitting in cubicles you over hear phone conversations. One Tax Senior had a sister who lived with her and lived off of her. She was constantly on the phone with creditors about the charges that her sister had charged without authorization. She had a large mess to deal with when she co-signed a loan for a car with her sister. Literally, she spent an hour each day on the phone with the lender for two weeks. She was one of the most productive in the firm and had had the best work papers. When I got the assignment to prepare the return the following year, I could tell which ones were done in that two-week period. I spent several hours in her cube asking her where she got this number and where she got that number. The impact didn't end at two weeks; it crept into the following year.

    A partner of the firm went all the way to the former Soviet Union to adopt a child. He had had so many difficulties with adoption agencies here in America that he went abroad. Only once he was there, he got held there because of legal red tape. I can't help but think that if he had had access to the best adoption lawyer in Texas at a reasonable rate, that he would have been a great parent much earlier without all the hassles.

    Although my examples here are from Dallas, this happens everywhere in North America. Wouldn't you agree?

    As the HR Dir. I heard many of these stories. I bet you have too.

    I know you want the web sites for these plans. Please wait we have a lot more to cover. It's like those Ginsu Knives. But wait there is more?. I will give you the web sites.

    These plans can help employees and demonstrate that the partners care for each employee. Plus it saves employees time. They know where to turn when questions arise. This also helps alleviate pressure and reduce stress, allowing employees to strike a harmonious balance between the central elements of their lives - work, family and financial security.

    Everyone needs legal guidance from time to time. In fact, most of your employees have not prepared wills and living wills. Your employees can call an attorney anytime to take care of legal matters. It's a time-proven benefit - American Express, AT&T, and PepsiCo have offered it for years. A legal plan benefit helps recruit and retain valuable employees. 15% to 25% (often up to 80%) of your work force will enroll.

    Are your employees ...

  • Buying Homes?
  • Getting Married?
  • Having Children?
  • How about getting Documents Reviewed for them before they sign?
  • Faced with so many challenges and questions, employees need the security and services a legal services plan can provide.

    Any questions so far?

    Jennifer Williams: What types of will service can employees get?

    Brogan Van Kleef: The types of wills vary slightly, but all are customized to the employee.

    Jennifer Williams: Thank you.

    Deborah Yanez: I only know of 2 out of 14 employees that have wills. This really is something that we should discuss with our employees and offer some kind of assistance. Our employees have in the past turned to a client attorney for legal assistance.

    Brogan Van Kleef: That is great that you have such a good relationship with a client attorney. Will the client attorney be able to help them with other areas of law outside the estate planning area?

    Ted South: We use client attorneys as well, is there any benefit to not using them and using this product?

    Brogan Van Kleef: The cost to the employees, the confidentiality for the employee, the cost to the firm and nationwide coverage. These plans offer access to all 26 areas of specialty for very reasonable monthly rates, actual coverage across North America with one company.

    Deborah Yanez: Is this like insurance?

    Brogan Van Kleef: Yes, in some states it is sold as insurance. In others it is sold as a service. In Texas for instance, I have to have an insurance license. That is true in fifteen states. I think that as we go thru the coverage and the stories you will see a benefit to using this service for your employees as opposed to using a client attorney.

    Moderator: Brogan, you do service other states besides Texas, correct?

    Brogan Van Kleef: I service all 50 states and 2 provinces in Canada. I and my team can travel anywhere.

    Moderator: Thanks.

    Deborah Yanez: Do you pay a monthly rate and it's there whenever you need it:? Will this service assist someone who is suing for vehicle damage because the other driver had no insurance?

    Brogan Van Kleef: Deborah, YES and YES.

    Deborah Yanez: Thank you!!

    Brogan Van Kleef: Okay, next on the goals for today.

    There are three companies who offer these legal plans.

    Let's talk a bit on recruiting. I found that while recruiting Generation X-ers were much more in tune with the benefits packages than I or my fellow graduates were. They look for the better deal. They want the whole package and they carefully compare each firm. This benefit not only helps in stacking your benefits package; it goes a long way to establish you as a caring employer. I almost felt that they were greedy in asking what we could do for them. Do you ever feel that way? Well, maybe what they are really looking for is a firm culture or office climate that is caring and concerned about them.

    As you scoured college campuses looking for the few accounting graduates available, did it bring back memories of your college days? Do you remember the instructors and the social events? Do you remember the fast car the you drove and the speeding ticket? Maybe the Spring Break where you were not exactly the pillar of restraint? What would you have done had you gotten caught? Would you have been able to call an attorney in the middle of the night to help you out? What will you do when your children are of driving age? Or college age?

    A client of mine got the dreaded call. Hi, Daddy. It's me. It's 2:00am on Sunday in Florida and I'm in jail.

    What would you do? You live many states away. It's 2:00am on Sunday and your baby is in jail. My client pulled out his membership card called the 1-800 number and had an attorney in Florida at the jail in under two hours to help his daughter with her case. He didn’t exactly get sleep that night, but he knew his daughter was well looked after, had a fantastic attorney, and he didn't have to leave home, nor figure out financing the legal costs while on the flight.

    Attorneys are valuable at any age. They can assist your new employees in avoiding sticky lease agreements, slighted cell phone contracts. They can represent your employee who got a moving traffic violation over the weekend. In our major cities where traffic accidents are frequent and tragic, an attorney can really help.

    Another story. Mike had just gotten his license the month before. He was out riding around town with three of his friends. They had gone to get a cola after school. He peeled out of the drive thru, and speed down the road. He was clocked going 45 in a 25 school zone. Macho, but expensive. His father's second thought was of the insurance going up and up and up. Fortunately, his father was a client of mine. He took the ticket, faxed it to the lawyer, the lawyer appeared in court on behalf of Mike and was able to keep the points off the young man's license and thus keeping the insurance from going up. Mike still paid the fine and walked to school for a few days, but his father didn't have to pay for the lesson as well.

    They can assist your older employees with issues surrounding caring for aging parents. 70% of North Americans do not have a will. We are at the end of the year. You are asking your clients if the have a will to determine if they need estate planning. How are you helping them get the will they need?

    While the HR Director, I convinced the partners to add a legal plan to our benefit plan. It was voluntary and the employees paid the entire cost themselves through payroll deduction. 86% of our firm signed up. As the gentleman gave his presentation I saw one story that made me proud that we had offered this to our employees.

    One of our administrative staff had been with us a long time and she was dearly loved by all. She had just been through a tough divorce. She did not have a will and did not realize that in the state she lived, that if she died without a will her estate would go half to the state and half to the ex-husband. Her children would not receive any of it without a will. The average will costs $1,100. She couldn't afford that, but she could afford the legal plan. She now has a will and her children will rightfully inherit her estate. Her children will never be wards of the court. They will go immediately to loved ones and be loved in a most difficult time if their mother passes away.

    80% of Europeans have this type of legal plan. 75% of the world's attorneys reside with in North America. 2% of North Americans have this coverage.

    I hope this demonstrates how beneficial this can be to both you and your employees.

    Are there any questions on this up to this point?

    Moderator: It doesn't appear so, let's continue.

    Brogan Van Kleef: Great.

    Here are the three companies who offer these employee benefit plans:

    PRE-PAID LEGAL SERVICES @ www.prepaidlegal.com/info/brogan-vankleef

    ARAG GROUP Arag Group

    HYATT LEGAL PLANS Hyatt Legal Plans best for 1000 employees or more.

    Discuss opportunities to use legal plans as a value-added service to your clients. Here you may find me to be a bit more one sided than in the family plans where three companies offered family legal plans as employee benefits. In this area I have not been able to find offerings except with my company.

    Have you ever had a client…

    Who was sued?

    Declared Bankruptcy?

    Wanted out of a partnership?

    Had signed something he shouldn't have?

    Needed a patent or a copyright?

    Had trouble collecting debts? Large bad debt write-offs?

    Just needed a legal question answered but didn't want to pay $300/hour to get it answered?

    Brett Whitney: Yes we have.

    Brogan Van Kleef: I think we all have. Dust off your white hat. The cavalry has arrived.

    Many of our clients and us are entrepreneurs. Some of us started in a home office. Many of our clients work from home offices. Here a plan to assist them in covering their home based business can really benefit them.

    40 million businesses are home based businesses. The Home Based Business Rider attaches to the Extended Family Legal Plan.

    They get the following:

  • A membership to GoSmallBiz.com
  • Telephone consultations
  • Up to 3 letters per month written on behalf of the company
  • Review of 3 contracts OR 3 legal documents per month
  • 3 debt collection letters per month
  • 25% on trial defense services
  • 25% on other legal fees
  • Most of our clients are small business people with fewer than 99 employees. They need accounting advice and a plethora of business advice from us as their accountants. Many of them cannot afford the lawyers who we regularly refer business to. So here is a plan that can help them and make us look like the hero as well as maintaining our status of trusted advisor. The Small Business Owners Legal Plan.

    These business owners get the following in this plan:

  • Telephone consultations
  • 1 Letter on behalf of the company per month
  • Designated Consultations
  • Truly Fantastic advice on this site
  • Review of 3 basic contracts per month
  • Review of 3 executed contracts per month
  • Review of 3 legal documents per month
  • 10 debt collection letters per month
  • Trail Defense Services 75 hours (15 pre-trial/60 trial
  • Reduced Fee Services 25% discount
  • Reduced Contingency Fee Services up to 5% discount
  • Membership in GoSmallBiz.com
  • Ted South: What is gosmallbiz?

    Brogan Van Kleef: GoSmallBiz.com is a great web site for the small business person. It is advertised by Fran Tarkenton (sp) and has a ton of information for the small business person.

    The one thing that grabbed my attention here was the ability to help clients collect the money they earned. That right there was the ticket to pleasing my client, improving their bottom line, helping them grow their business to the point where they could afford the high priced attorney and my higher fees for expanded services. Pure Gold.

    How about your questions on these items?

    Brett Whitney: How can you give discounts?

    Brogan Van Kleef: We pay our provider attorneys a portion of all the monthly premiums in that state for each month.

    Brett Whitney: And this is fine with them?

    Brogan Van Kleef: For example, Ross and Matthews, the TX provider law firms made almost one million in retainer from prepaid legal last month.

    We have 100,000 plus members in TX.

    Our members use the service on average 3 to 4 times per year.

    Brett Whitney: Sounds good to me! What cost does the employee pay?

    Brogan Van Kleef: The employee can pay the whole $26 per month, or you as the employer can provide a portion or all of that. See it can be totally free to you and you look like the hero.

    Brett Whitney: Thank you.

    Brogan Van Kleef: You can get your employees back to work and get their mind on work by giving them access to the best attorneys in North America.

    Our attorneys are all AV or BV rated by Martindale Hubble.

    Brett Whitney: The Dream Team?

    Brogan Van Kleef: Yes, The dream team. All 26 Specialty, AV/BV rated, across North America with access 24/7. They are closely monitored for client service down to how many times the phone rings before it is answered.

    Brett Whitney: Great!

    Brogan Van Kleef: Now that you know this, is there any reason you wouldn't use your client attorney's for their specialty and give the other 25 specialties thru a plan like this?
    What did you think of the plans for your clients? Could your firm use this for yourselves?

    Brett Whitney: It is possible.

    Brogan Van Kleef: Super.

    Deborah Yanez: Sounds good! Does there have to be a certain percentage of the employees participating in order for the firm to offer this service?

    Brogan Van Kleef: Minimum of five employees for it to be a group benefit with payroll deduction, but if you have fewer, it can be sold individually with checking account or credit card draft.

    Deborah Yanez: Thank you.

    Brett Whitney: Is this tax free for employees?

    Brett Whitney: Payroll deduction that is? Thanks.

    Brogan Van Kleef: No, this does not meet the Sec. 125 criteria. But it can be payroll deducted after tax

    Brogan Van Kleef: This is great. You all are so interactive.

    Moderator: We will be wrapping up here shortly, are there any other questions for Brogan?

    Brogan Van Kleef: Learn how to monetize their web site and increase web site traffic while providing legal resources to visitors to their site. Participants will be exposed to various legal plans available on the market today from the three companies offering these plans. Explore various ways to finance Legal Plans at little or no cost to the firm.

    These are the topics we did not get to. I will be available for the next two hours if you want more info on these.

    Deborah Yanez: Great benefit information. I'll be sure to pass it on to the partners.

    Moderator: Thank you Deborah.

    Brogan Van Kleef: Now that you know about this, it would be an injustice to let your valued employees loose half their estate to the state because they do not have a will. It is also an injustice to your clients not to give them affordable access to the best attorneys in North America.

    I hope that I have shown you how to build a financial legal wall around your employees and your clients. I have given you an additional profit center in your firm that can affect this month's bottom line. You can now wear that white hat, you are the hero when you provide these plans to your employees and your clients. When you call me back today we will talk about the specifics in your market place. Again I will be available to take your calls or emails for the next two hours. 972-333-4910 and brogan_vankleef@prepaidlegal.com

    Thank you and Happy Holidays.

    Moderator: Thank you all for joining us today. We would like to thank Brogan for her great presentation and this valuable information. If you have any questions, you can contact Brogan directly. We will have the transcripts posted on the site by Friday morning.

    Brogan Van Kleef: Anytime. I love giving Equal Justice to ALL.

    Moderator: Again, thank you all for joining us.

    Workshop sponsored by: Arthur Andersen

    Arthur Andersen


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