Education Helps CUs Connect With Hispanics

Take a three-pronged approach when developing a member education program.

February 19, 2012
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Although the Hispanic community has traditionally been coined “emerging,” the term isn’t all that fitting in today’s business environment.

As the largest, fastest-growing, youngest and most underserved population today, it’s no longer appropriate to think of the Hispanic consumer as someone to target in the future.

Endearing Hispanics to your credit union, though, may be an uphill battle. Any courtship of Hispanic members will certainly require a strong commitment to education—for both Hispanic members and your staff.

The Hispanic community has largely been hesitant to join the financial mainstream because of the history many have with less-than-honorable or struggling financial institutions of their home country—or even U.S. institutions that have not treated their Hispanic customers with dignity and respect.

Education is the key to building a trusting and loyal Hispanic membership base.

When developing a strong education program, credit unions must take a three-fold approach: Train your staff, educate your Hispanic members, and provide resources to support educational efforts.

Train your staff

Anna Haug
Anna Haug is the client account coordinator for Coopera Consulting.

Readying your staff to serve Hispanic members means more than simply hiring bilingual employees. It means challenging all staff to think of the many different aspects of navigating the U.S. financial system.

This will get staff into the appropriate mindset and generate empathy for members who may be hesitant to trust a financial institution.

Train employees on the business case for serving Hispanics, Hispanic culture, immigration, identification and documentation, and how to use proper Spanish financial terminology.

As with every language, there are several ways to communicate a particular concept or idea. Therefore, your bilingual staff must be consistent in how they talk about the credit union difference, credit union terminology, and other financial concepts.

Help members understand

When working with Hispanic members, it’s important to connect financial literacy with your members’ particular needs.

For example, if your credit union offers a credit builder loan product, provide a financial literacy component to help your Hispanic members understand the importance of building credit, maintaining a good credit rating, and understanding a credit report, among other credit-related topics.

Know your resources

To help credit unions provide financial education for the Hispanic community, CUNA and Coopera have developed El Poder es Tuyo, a Spanish language financial education resource that provides Hispanics with money management information for their home, family, and future.

Visitors to the El Poder es Tuyo website gain a better understanding of basic money management, the U.S. financial system, and how credit unions differ from other financial service providers.

Creating products and services that specifically meet the needs of the underserved not only has the potential for your credit union to build trust in the Hispanic community, doing so will also help you lead members down a path to financial security.

With a culture of “people helping people,” credit unions that make the strategic commitment to serve the Hispanic market will be well-positioned to capture a loyal and growing member base, and achieve growth rates exceeding those of the overall industry.

ANNA HAUG is the client account coordinator for Coopera Consulting, Des Moines, Iowa.

Hispanic population is quite diverse

Favio M.
March 19, 2012 10:05 pm
Hi Anna – One important point worth clarifying is that Hispanic community in the US is extremely diverse. Of the 50+ million Hispanics, about 10 million, or 1/5 of the total, are US born Gen Ys – the 20 to 29 year old children of Hispanic immigrants – meaning they’ve spent their lives here and have been exposed to the US financial system. Many other Latinos are 2nd and 3rd generation. They are individuals who may not know a single word of Spanish and have parents who were born in the US. Now throw in geographic differences (New York has a large Puerto Rican population, Texas has a large Mexican population, DC metro area has a large Central American population) and you begin to see how diverse the Hispanic population is in the US. Knowledge of and participation in the financial mainstream by US Hispanics is not the same across the board. To me, what’s important is for a financial institution to understand this diversity and address their customer’s or prospective customer’s individual needs – in some cases it may be about helping a person understand the value of opening an account, while in others it may be about pitching the individual on a wealth management product/service. Here’s a link to a recent article from AdWeek with some useful info about the US Hispanic population:

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Great consideration!

Anna Haug
March 27, 2012 9:50 am
That is a great consideration! It is always a good idea to have a comprehensive understanding of the demographics in the market that you serve in your community or field of membership. It is a best practice, even before embarking on a financial education strategy, to better understand the Hispanic community from average age and country of origin to generation and language preference.

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