Our second 2018 WHACC AM Learning Series Round Table discussion was held bright and early in the morning on Tuesday, April 24 and covered important trends in Legal and Finance. Here’s a quick snapshot profile of this month’s Round Table discussion leaders
Jackie Huggins-Jones, Founder & Executive Director, Breaking Chains Inc
Jackie and her husband James Jones founded Breaking Chains 15 years ago in order to provide personal and professional housing counseling and financial literacy. They help their clients to establish credit and get ready for the home-buying process. Many of their success stories are first-time buyers – providing empowerment to the whole family and breaking the cycle of poverty.
Nancy Dixon, Senior Vice President, First Federal of Lakewood
Nancy is responsible for all the digital channels offered by First Federal of Lakewood – the largest independent, depositor-owned bank headquartered in Ohio. Her role is to provide and monitor tools that help the bank’s customers digitally. A great example is the “Business Express Loan” – where a borrower can request a loan of up to $50K – and will know within 5-10 minutes if they are approved or turned down. If approved, they will have the funds the very next day.
Nick Weiss, Attorney, The Gertsburg Law Firm
Nick is a litigator with Chagrin Falls-based The Gertsburg Law Firm. The firm’s primary focus is lawsuit avoidance and their team of attorneys know what it takes to run a successful business, because they have done it themselves.
The lively discussion focussed on financial literacy, protecting your data and devices from the “black market”, and the increasing dangers from “bad actors” among high interest – so-called payday – lending institutions.
When we asked each speaker what trends concerned and “kept them up at night” – here’s what they had to say:
Jackie focused on individuals getting the urge to buy a home, but not having a high enough credit rating. She worries about people getting the wrong information (at a “credit repair shop” for example) and lacking the knowledge on how to improve their credit. She noted that sometimes “poverty creates challenges and people make mistakes for a quick fix that puts them … and their families … into a deeper and deeper hole.” She then led a very engaging conversation around “payday loans” – which can charge up to to 367% interest! Her husband James likened it to “financial crack.”
Nancy steered the conversation toward protection – that individuals need to protect all the devices they are using to avoid tracking mechanisms which can retrieve your bank information. She educated the group about “intrusion testing” a process that puts firewalls to the test and ensures that the bank, or their external data housing location, are well-protected.
Nick’s concerns centered on the “neutering” of certain watchdog agencies – e.g. the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, EPA and EEOC. He worries that the watchdogs are asleep and under staffed – thus avoiding the pursuance of certain cases. The private legal sector really can’t step in and consumers who have been taken advantage of (for example by payday lenders) don’t know the right questions to ask.
And here are some possible solutions to these issues offered up by our Round Table Leaders:
- Understand your credit. Get an annual report – address things that are not yours immediately.
- Understand your budget – gross vs. net, and know exactly what you are spending.
- Set goals – write them down – know how to get there.
- Ask your bank how they are protecting your data.
- Know whether your data is hosted inside or at a 3rd party – ask about the protocols they follow to ensure safety.
- Know exactly what to do if something’s not right – where do you find this info on their website?
- When you open an account – make sure you’re educated on tips to protect your devices (e.g. do they have an app to turn your debit card off and on). Do they send you real time notices of possible fraud (smaller banks may not be able to afford this)?
- Just stay away from payday lenders!
- Don’t be afraid to check with legitimate financial institutions … even if your credit rating is low.
We ended the morning with a few questions on employment law that were posed to Nick. When asked about the challenges of removing an employee with a “bad attitude,” Nick acknowledged that although Ohio is an “at will” state, there are many possible exceptions. For example – you can’t terminate someone because they are a member of a protected class of people or in response or retaliation to someone exercising certain statutory or constitutional rights. His solution was “Document, document, document” – write down all the issues, and have a counseling session with the employee on what to do to improve the behavior and create a specific timeline for improvement.
Nick shared a helpful document with all the participants on the “Top 10 Employment Law Issues for Growing Businesses And Best Practices to Avoid Hot Water. “ Click here for a copy!
Lastly, special thanks to Faith Boone, Marketing Director, Effective Leadership Academy for expert facilitation of the Round Table conversation.
AM Learning Series Round Tables are absolutely free and open to the public. However, the number of attendees are limited to 20 to ensure a robust and worthwhile discussion. So be sure to register here for the May 22 AM Learning Series Round Table on HR and Wellness — so you won’t miss this important topic.
Today’s speakers have all joined our new Legal and Finance Committee. If you have a legal or finance question, just click here. Start a conversation or join the discussion year-round.