Marketing

Why Care about Immigration Reform?

Hispanic outreach is an investment in your CU’s future.

August 01, 2013
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On May 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the immigration reform bill before it by a vote of 13-5. Although this is merely the beginning of what is sure to be a lengthy legislative process to push proposed reform through to law, it is a positive sign that what has been called “a deep divide” among legislators can be overcome.

Why should credit union leaders care about immigration reform? For two reasons:

The proposed path to citizenship, which is a major function of the proposed reform, could mean a virtual opening of the floodgates for new credit union members, particularly from among the fast-growing Hispanic community.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. today, about 60% of whom are Mexican, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

A path to citizenship—regardless of the final format it takes—will send many of these young, financially underserved families out to find community partners capable of helping them achieve their life-long American dreams.

Credit unions, with their “people helping people” philosophy and core competencies aligning with service to nontraditional consumers, will make ideal community partners in this pursuit.

The opportunity to help aspiring, new Americans with their financial goals will come in several forms. For starters, newly documented immigrants will be able to open checking and saving accounts, buy homes, start small businesses, and seek educational opportunities with more ease.

In addition, the process of obtaining U.S. residency and citizenship likely will remain costly. Prospective members will be looking for financial institutions willing to loan them the funds necessary to complete the many stages of the immigration naturalization process.

Many credit unions have already begun to establish programs for their local Hispanic communities, which are made up of both immigrant and U.S.-born groups. These credit unions will certainly have a leg up in the competition to win business from the Hispanic immigrant families impacted by reform.

But it’s not too late to start. View your Hispanic outreach strategies of today as an investment in your credit union’s strategic future.

These strategies may include the recruitment of bilingual and bicultural staff, the cultural training of your board and staff, the adaptation of your products and marketing strategies, and the overall alignment of your credit union’s cultural disposition and operational strategies.

Think of your credit union’s progress in the same terms as the journey of a new American. A recent Filene Research Institute report made a keen observation—one I’ve experienced first-hand: “As immigrants’ time in a new country increases, their language skills and income often follow suit. The financial products that immigrants require increase in complexity as time goes on.”

My Mexican-immigrant upbringing is testament to this financial trajectory.

When my parents arrived in the U.S., they were weekly payroll check-cashers who used money orders to pay bills and borrowed cash from friends and family to buy used cars.

After learning of traditional financial institutions by word-of-mouth, they felt comfortable enough to approach them. They became bank customers and credit union members with savings and checking accounts, debit and credit cards, consumer loans, and mortgages.

Today, 100% of my immediate family is banked. We have developed long-term, loyal financial relationships that have helped us achieve our financial goals over time.

The takeaway for credit unions: Start small and follow a strategic growth roadmap.

Start by understanding the makeup of your local Hispanic community and your credit union’s cultural disposition and strategic intent to serving a new market. These initial steps will make adapting to the Hispanic community—instead of forcing the Hispanic community to adapt to the credit union—a much easier journey.

Now is the time to examine your credit union’s growth path and ensure that a Hispanic growth strategy is a part of it. If you haven’t already started serving the Hispanic community, beginning now will ensure a first-mover advantage to serving newly documented Hispanic immigrants who’ll be clamoring for financial services upon the enactment of immigration reform.

Credit unions are their best option—don’t let them go anywhere else.

 

 

 

 

 

MIRIAM DE DIOS is a native of Jalisco, Mexico and is CEO of Coopera

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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