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  • Building Lending Opportunities through ITIN

    Posted by on November 12, 2018

    A credit union’s income is largely driven by its loan portfolio, and there is a unique opportunity for even greater loan growth available to institutions willing to go the extra mile in serving immigrant populations.

    Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Application

    Not everyone who works in the U.S. is considered a citizen, yet all are required to pay taxes on their earnings. Workers who don’t qualify for Social Security numbers must satisfy their debt to the IRS by registering for Individual Tax Identification Numbers, better known as ITINs.

    More credit unions are starting to use ITINs to qualify borrowers for loans and other services, a move beneficial both to members and their institutions.

    This is especially true for credit unions serving Hispanic and other underserved markets, but it should be noted that ITINs are not only for Hispanics and recent immigrants. Many workers from Canada, India and other countries pay their U.S. taxes through their ITIN accounts. Done correctly, loans using ITINs as proof of income can open a new world of borrowers for participating institutions.

    This past month Coopera, in partnership with our sister company PolicyWorks, the Filene Research Institute and inclusiv (formerly the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions) released the Implementation Guide: Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Lending. The 67-page publication, free to credit unions, offers a comprehensive, legally compliant approach to ITIN lending.

    The guide consolidates best practices, tools and resources for credit unions wanting to reach this largely untapped market of immigrant workers who need the ability to more fully participate in the economic growth and development necessary to make their lives financially secure.

    The guide evolved using testing results from the Filene Institute’s Reaching Minority Households Incubator, which measures products and service strategies for reaching financially underserved consumers. Coopera was a major collaborator in both the research study and implementation guide creation.

    This guide couldn’t have come at a better time. There is a very strong business case for providing personal and automobile loans to what is an often-overlooked population segment. As with other financial products provided to the Hispanic community, the word is likely to spread among its members, resulting in an increase in member applications along with the resulting loan growth.

    There also is an equally strong philosophical platform for ITIN lending. Providing members of this group greater financial stability and more active participation in the U.S. economy serves not only their needs but helps create a level of increased financial security that serves to further strengthen their community and society at large.

    Credit unions are committed to serving the underserved, and this may well be the most underserved community of all.

    Please feel free to contact any of us at Coopera for more information on ITIN lending and a copy of the guide. We are here to help.

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    A Prayer and a Promise

    Posted by on October 29, 2018

    When I accepted the position of CEO of Coopera earlier this month, my team gave me a framed quote that, in terms of the organization’s mission and my own personal career trajectory, couldn’t have been more profound.

    Warren Morrow, founder of Coopera

    The quote reads, “Hispanics need credit unions as much as credit unions need Hispanics.” It is attributed to Warren Morrow, the founder of Coopera.

    To say that I was as moved by the gift as I was by the sentiments it expressed would be a significant understatement. In a mere 11 words, Warren’s statement outlined the future of both the credit union movement and that of Hispanics seeking to economically thrive in the United States. It also provides all of us with guidance in helping both communities cooperatively move forward in the new millennium.

    Warren was born in Mexico City to an Anglo father and a Mexican mother, moving to Tucson, Arizona, while still in grade school. The need to assimilate helped define Warren’s character, but he never forgot nor abandoned his Hispanic roots. Providing higher education opportunities and helping create financial stability for Hispanic families became the mission and the passion of his too-short life.

    Warren died unexpectedly in 2012 at age 34. Both Miriam De Dios Woodward, my predecessor at Coopera, and I had worked with Warren and are committed to following his guidance.

    Warren realized early that credit unions’ cooperative nature aligned with the different Hispanic cultures. As the number of U.S. credit unions continues to decline and more nontraditional vendors fight for our financial business, it’s not unrealistic to believe that Hispanic communities may be the best and most likely hope for the future of the credit union movement.

    Think for a moment about the parallels between the two entities. Despite their differences, the social cultures of various Hispanic countries are built on the strong foundation of family and community. Nothing is more important, and nothing else gives both the various cultures and their people their solidarity and strength.

    It’s also fair to say that of all financial institutions, credit unions come the closest to establishing “communities” among their members. Their emphasis on member service helps foster the financial growth among those communities, much like Hispanic communities and families foster the social and emotional growth among their members.

    Coopera exists to create a link between credit unions and the Hispanic communities they seek to serve. Through analytical study we can define exactly which Hispanic cultures predominate in each city, town or rural area. Our emphasis on digital and remote services can help credit unions reach those groups economically and address their needs in ways in which members themselves prefer to be served.

    Hispanic members are like anyone else in terms of the products and services they need and want to survive and thrive in today’s economic environment. The difference is that, unlike other member groups, Hispanics put greater faith and trust in their communities, and credit unions that align with those communities will see greater loyalty and higher levels of service usage among those community members.

    Warren Morrow knew that. Through Coopera and previous enterprises that he managed, Warren sought to strengthen the bond between Hispanics and credit unions through considerable effort and, probably, no small amount of prayer. His efforts and their effect are to be lauded.

    Warren’s message still lies at the heart of Coopera’s primary mission, and it’s a promise we plan to keep to both credit unions and the Hispanic communities they seek to serve.

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    Embracing a New Era of Success for Coopera

    Posted by on October 15, 2018

    It was barely 10 months ago that I joined Coopera as client relations director, having just spent 20 years working with the global credit union movement as part of World Council of Credit Union’s executive staff. Today, I begin my tenure as Coopera’s CEO.

    I’m still reeling at the tremendous opportunity I have been given.  I’m thrilled to be leading the only organization devoted to helping improve financial services delivery through credit unions for U.S. Hispanic population members nationwide. What an honor!

    I am thankful for the remarkable work former CEO Miriam De Dios Woodward has done building this organization. I’m pleased she has taken over the role of CEO of PolicyWorks LLC, Coopera’s sister organization that provides compliance solutions to more than 1,200 credit unions across the country.

    Victor Corro is the new CEO of Coopera.

    As CEO, I plan to carry on the work Miriam started to increase services to a growing number of credit unions and other organizations seeking to effectively serve Hispanic communities and individuals.  The market has never been larger, and the need for those services never greater.

    Many people don’t realize that there are currently about 55 million Hispanics living in the United States. That makes the U.S. the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.

    Hispanics also are the largest ethnic minority in the United States, and one that credit unions can most effectively serve through their cooperative structure and wide array of financial products and services.

    As a native of Panama and first-generation immigrant, I have lived the American immigrant journey. I had the good fortune to come to the U.S. as a teenager on a Fulbright scholarship to pursue degrees in economics and Latin American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and I have been here ever since. I also have devoted my professional life to credit unions and have long promoted their ability to serve the Hispanic population.

    The key factor many credit unions forget, however, is that an effective service profile is at no time found in a one-size-fits-all strategy.

    Spanish may be our shared language, but each of us comes from a different culture. The culture in the Dominican Republic is different from that of Colombia, and Mexico is not the same as Cuba. Credit unions must first recognize the origins of their Hispanic members, then find ways to connect with their communities in order to gain the trust necessary to create a trust relationship with those members.

    Helping credit unions do just that through analytical tools and strategic planning is part and parcel of Coopera’s mission. Credit unions that understand their current and potential Hispanic membership base can better develop the proper strategic approach to serve those members. Supporting that understanding lies at the core of Coopera’s services.

    Given the current politics of immigration, the parameters for serving Hispanic members may seem very different from serving other member groups. Credit unions must be prepared to accept different forms of identification, for example, and be willing to partner with different community organizations to make sure Hispanics receive the financial and social support they need.

    For credit unions, it becomes a case of self-examination. Does the credit union truly represent the field of membership that it’s serving? Are there Spanish-speaking employees, executives and maybe even board members who represent what has the potential to become a key constituency?”

    For credit unions, effectively serving Hispanic members is much more than a case of just doing the right thing socially and politically. In a marketplace where competition increases while service opportunities decrease, building a strong Hispanic base can be the key to stability, relevancy and increased growth.

    Credit unions with significant Hispanic membership often see both loan and deposit growth at rates higher than industry norms, while the average member age has decreased by about 10 years. There is a positive business case for serving the Hispanic market, one that shows the market’s relevancy and sustainability over the long run.

    In the end, Coopera’s goal is to help credit unions succeed by understanding and creating empathy for people on the immigrant journey, much like the one I took.

    Our industry really can’t ignore a group that in just a couple of decades will comprise one-third of the U.S. population. At Coopera, we’d like to help more credit unions meet their own goals, and successfully serving Hispanic members is an important part of that equation.

    Speaking on behalf of Coopera’s excellent staff and myself, we’re all ready to work with partners both veteran and new in embracing a new era of success in serving Hispanic members nationwide.

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    Enhance Your Service to the Hispanic Market by Learning Something New During Hispanic Heritage Month

    Posted by on September 24, 2018

    Hispanic Heritage MonthThe theme of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15 to October 15, is “Hispanics: One Endless Voice to Enhance our Traditions.” Hispanic Heritage Month is an ideal time to check in on your credit union’s plans to enhance its service to the increasingly influential Hispanic market.

    During Hispanic Heritage Month, make it a point to learn something new about the Hispanic members in your cooperative, as well as those who have yet to be exposed to the credit union difference.

    Below are a few questions you may consider asking consumers on your quest to learn more. 

    Is the immigration process part of your financial journey?

    Although most of the 58 million Hispanics living in the U.S. are native-born Americans — and nearly three in four are U.S. citizens — there are nearly 20 million foreign-born Hispanics living and working in the U.S.

    Many foreign-born Hispanic individuals have gone through the immigration process to obtain U.S. citizenship, and many others are working on adjusting their status. Others may not be eligible for U.S. immigration status at this time.

    The immigration process is a time-intensive and costly one, as well as a major part of the lives of many Hispanic immigrants. Credit unions are in an ideal position to help members going through this process with both financial tools and education.

    In addition, simply understanding how complicated the process is and welcoming individuals of all backgrounds at your credit union can go a long way toward building lasting relationships, establishing trust and making people feel welcome and comfortable becoming part of your cooperative.

    Although credit unions exist to serve, they must also be sustainable. And, as many are discovering, the immigrant Hispanic profile exemplifies the ideal credit union member. This is especially evident when you consider how Hispanics in the U.S. are driving economic growth.

    Which is your preferred language?

    Often, credit union leaders interested in adapting their programs for Hispanic consumers are overwhelmed by the misperception they have to begin by translating into Spanish every piece of communication, including websites and disclosures. Thankfully, this is not the case.

    It’s true many Hispanics, both U.S. and foreign born, prefer to speak Spanish. In fact, more than 37 million Hispanics speak Spanish at home. Yet, a strategic Hispanic growth plan begins by identifying the specific needs of the community and the particular target market a credit union is trying to reach. Initial Spanish-language materials (or better yet, bilingual materials) will only be required for those introductory products and services, and of course, member communications deemed essential to the strategic Hispanic member growth plan.

    Often, Spanish-speakers tend to be the foreign-born population, which is also the most untapped and unbanked group. There is a reason large financials like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank offer Spanish-language services across all of their channels and even why the government continues to introduce more Spanish-language services and materials. Everyone is trying to reach the most untapped groups because they present the greatest growth opportunity for the majority of businesses.

    How can our products improve your financial life?

    Hispanic use of top financial products has grown by double-digits over the past five years and outpaced non-Hispanics. Mortgages have grown 30 percent among Hispanics (compared to 9 percent among non-Hispanics) and auto loans have grown 31 percent among Hispanics (compared to 1 percent among non-Hispanics).

    Hispanics are the only demographic in the U.S. to have increased their rate of homeownership for the last three consecutive years. What’s more, 9 percent of Hispanics are planning to buy a house in the next 12 months, compared to 6 percent of non-Hispanics.

    The number of cars purchased by Hispanics in the U.S. is projected to double in the period between 2010 and 2020. It’s estimated that new car sales to Hispanics will grow by 8 percent over the next five years, compared to a 2 percent decline among the total market.

    In short, there are many present and future needs among Hispanic communities for the types of products and services credit unions are uniquely positioned to provide. Understanding those needs can go a long way toward crafting an effective onboarding program.

    Being all things to all people is rarely a good strategy, particularly for credit unions that pride themselves on truly knowing their members and providing custom, personalized experiences. The key is to ensure your products and services are culturally relevant and meet the needs of the community. If products aren’t adapted to the market, they will not resonate. The good news is you only have to repackage what you have instead of starting from scratch

    To grow, credit unions must make a strategic effort to learn as much as possible about the youngest, fastest growing and most untapped consumer segment in the U.S. The celebration of Hispanic heritage going on right now presents the perfect opportunity to do precisely that.

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    Connect With Hispanic Members and Staff During National Hispanic Heritage Month

    Posted by on September 10, 2018

    National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), a celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture, heritage and contributions, begins September 15 and continues through October 15 each year.

    The celebration starts on September 15 because on that day in 1821, five Latin American countries declared their independence: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18 and September 21, respectively.

    HHM presents a great opportunity for credit unions to connect with and support their Hispanic members and staff. Here are a few examples:

    • Altura Credit Union in Riverside, Calif., recognizes HHM by promoting a variety of community festivals, contest and events on its website. The credit union also made a $600,000 pledge to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry at the Riverside Art Museum earlier this year.
    • Idaho Central Credit Union in Chubbuck, Idaho, sponsors several activities during HHM, including Fiestas Patrias (Mexico’s Independence Day celebration), an All About the Dress Expo and a Latino Expo.
    • 1st Bergen Federal Credit Union in Hackensack, N.J., hosted a HHM celebration where the credit union shared its commitment to serve and empower members of the Hispanic community. The event included music and dancing, refreshments and special promotions, including low-interest loans, savings accounts and checking accounts.

    Another way to celebrate HHM is to create a way for your Hispanic staff and members to share stories about their favorite traditions from their countries of origin. Along those lines, we thought it would be fun to share a bit about where the Coopera team came from and our favorite traditions from those countries.

    Kenia Calderon, Coopera’s Client Relationship Consultant

    El Salvador Peace Band

    El Salvador’s peace bands play during the Independence Day parades.

    What is your country of origin?
    I was born and raised in El Salvador.

    What is your favorite tradition?
    My favorite tradition from El Salvador is our Independence Day celebration.

    On September 15, K-12 students participate in the Independence Day marches/parades that take place across the country. People line up along the sidewalks to watch the parade. Each school has its own theme, uniform, music and acts. My siblings and I participated every year. The first time I participated, I was in charge of holding our national flower. The following year, I was a tambourine player. The marches typically take place downtown, and we probably marched more than five miles.

    What do you enjoy most about HHM?
    I miss El Salvador a great deal, so HHM is very important to me because I get to celebrate where I come from along with other Latin Americans. Every year, I learn something new from other countries’ traditions and history. HHM is also our opportunity to teach Hispanic Americans about their family’s culture to develop a sense of pride and celebrate their roots.

    Tania Perez, Coopera’s Client Support Specialist

    Mexico Bullfight

    The bullfight is one the main attractions at the traditional San Marcos National Fair.

    What is your country of origin?
    I am both Mexican and Salvadoran.

    What is your favorite tradition?
    It’s so difficult to choose one but La Feria de San Marcos has always piqued my interest.

    My father is from Aguascalientes, Mexico, host of the San Marcos National Fair. It started off as a cattle and harvest fair and is now an international event. There are many exhibitions to enjoy, including bullfighting, which has an important history in the city of Aguascalientes. The fair takes place in April and May. My family who owns a taco business in the city says that many businesses close earlier in the day or close for a couple days to celebrate the fair.

    What do you enjoy most about HHM?
    What I enjoy most is the simple fact that it is a month dedicated to all Latino cultures. We often forget to include representation of many Latin American countries. HHM is a time where you see celebrations with various countries being represented, either through food or dances.

    Victor Miguel Corro, Coopera’s Client Relations Director

    Panama Water Soak

    La Mojadera is a water hose soak during Los Carnavales in Panama.

    What is your country of origin?
    Panama

    What is your favorite tradition?
    Los Carnavales (Carnival)

    During the four days prior to the start of Lent, the Catholic holiday, the whole country comes to a complete stop for Los Carnavales. In many towns, large and small, there is is a full-throttle celebration with parades, floats, queens, music, dancing and costumes.

    Festivities include both traditional Spanish and Panamanian customs. The most distinct and fun tradition is “La Mojadera” – a water hose soak. Water tank trucks soak the crowd for hours, along with loud music, entertainment and plenty of Seco, a sugarcane-based spirit and Panama’s national drink. The tradition is undoubtedly inspired by the hot tropical weather. La Mojadera goes on until the early hours of the afternoon, when the crowds go home to take a short nap before preparing to dance the night away and start all over the next day.

    Miriam De Dios Woodward, Coopera’s CEO

    Jalisco Fair Queen

    The fair queen is crowned during the annual Fiestas in El Grullo, Jalisco.

    What is your country of origin?
    Mexico

    What is your favorite tradition?
    My favorite tradition is the annual Fiestas of my hometown of El Grullo, Jalisco. The festivities begin with a religious celebration on January 1 dedicated to Santa Maria de Guadalupe, followed by a two-week fair. The religious celebration includes a processional to the church at the top of the hill in town, singing “las mañanitas” to Santa Maria de Guadalupe, a parade with religious floats and other festivities.

    As the religious celebration draws to a close on January 12, a special pilgrimage is held to welcome back “los hijos ausentes” or the “absent children” who live away from town. That night, “la farola,” a cart with a lamp post symbolizing an old way of making public announcements is pushed down the streets of town with a live band and processional of people, announcing the start of the fair. The fair activities that follow include bull riding, concerts, enjoying a variety of food stands, carnival games, parades, traditional dances and the crowning of the fair queen.

    Las Fiestas represent a time for family and friends to gather from near and far to share in the tradition that was started many generations ago. To this day, my family continues the pilgrimage to El Grullo during the time of Las Fiestas.

    What do you enjoy most about HHM?
    I enjoy attending the various events that celebrate the diversity in the Hispanic culture and the opportunity to highlight the contributions of Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S.

    As you can see, Latin American countries are rich with culture and traditions. Finding ways to celebrate HHM and giving your members and staff an opportunity to share stories from their countries of origin are great ways to learn from each other to build a more inclusive community.

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    Helping Hispanic Students Pursue STEM Careers

    Posted by on August 27, 2018

    STEM Careers

    According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are booming, with 24.4 percent growth over the last decade. Yet, not enough students are pursuing degrees and careers in the STEM fields to meet the increasing demand. There are currently two STEM job openings for every qualified job seeker.

    The lack of STEM representation is even more prevalent among Hispanics, who although account for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, only represent about 7 percent of the STEM workforce.

    STEM workers enjoy a pay advantage compared with non-STEM workers with similar levels of education. Therefore, increasing the number of Hispanic students pursuing STEM degrees is one way to promote the continued socioeconomic mobility of Hispanic families in the U.S.

    There are likely many factors that play a part in the underrepresentation of Hispanic students pursuing STEM – lack of information or academic resources, unfamiliarity of STEM opportunities among parents, etc.

    However, according to a July 2018 study from the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, a lot also has to do with finances. The study found that university students from low-income families who were offered need-based grant aid were 7.87 percentage points more likely to declare a STEM major than similar peers, representing a 42 percent increase.

    What does this mean for credit unions?

    The Hope Center study means credit unions have the opportunity to impact the number of Hispanic students who are pursuing STEM careers. This can be accomplished by connecting members with a variety of college savings products and opportunities – supported by culturally relevant financial education for parents and children. Consider the following opportunities:

    • 529 college savings plans. These savings plans are tax-advantaged college savings vehicles and one of the most popular ways to save for college today. Much like the way 401(k) plans revolutionized the world of retirement savings a few decades ago, 529 college savings plans have revolutionized the world of college savings.

    • Coverdell ESA plans. These savings vehicles are often used as supplements to 529 plans or other savings vehicles because they only allow parents to invest a maximum of $2,000 in them each year.

    • UGMA/UTMA accounts. Parents or grandparents can also set up custodial accounts available under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) or Unified Gift to Minors Act (UGMA). These accounts allow parents or grandparents to invest as much as they would like each year and in total. However, these investments are not tax-free like they are with 529 plans and Coverdell plans.

    • College savings reward programs. Consider ways you might be able to help members save for college through purchases they’re already making. Can you offer credit card points or cash back that go toward a 529 plan or college savings account?

    • Separate savings accounts. Perhaps the easiest solution for members is to set up a savings account dedicated to college savings and keep it separate from other accounts. Encourage members to set up automatic contributions and bolster the contributions anytime they receive a raise, bonus or other financial influx.

    • Scholarships. Providing a scholarship may be just the financial – and confidence – boost a deserving high school student needs to attend college and pursue a STEM career. Just look at Gabriel Hernandez, who received a scholarship from JetStream Federal Credit Union, made possible by the Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant. In his scholarship essay, Hernandez wrote, “I know that I will succeed in college, but this scholarship will show me that others believe in me, too.”

    No matter how your members plan to pay for college, it’s important that they save early and often. Consider offering educational classes and information – in both English and Spanish – to communicate the importance of saving for college and share resources to make it easier. The more financially prepared they are, the more likely it is they will go to college and pursue their dream career – STEM or otherwise.

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    What Financial Optimism Among Hispanics Means for Credit Unions

    Posted by on August 13, 2018

    Couple Taking SelfieHispanics are more optimistic about their financial futures than other consumers segments. As multicultural marketing expert Isaac Mizrahi shares in Forbes, in the next 12 months…

    • 9 percent of Hispanics are planning to buy a house, compared to 6 percent of non-Hispanics. This means Hispanics, who represent about 18 percent of the U.S. population, may represent 22 percent of all new home buyers in the next year.
    • 14 percent of Hispanics are planning to buy a new car, compared to 11 percent of non-Hispanics.
    • 11 percent of Hispanics plan to switch jobs, compared to 8 percent of non-Hispanics.

    More than 3 percent of Hispanics plan to make their first financial investment ever, compared to 1.5 percent of non-Hispanics. Hispanics may represent almost a third of all new investors in the market in the next 12 months.

    Not only do Hispanics tend to be more optimistic about finances than other consumer segments, but their optimism appears to be growing. In an April 2018 poll conducted by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative, 69 percent of Hispanics indicated they are financially better off today than a year ago, up 4 points from the previous quarter.

    In addition, 78 percent of Hispanics are optimistic about their financial future, up 7 points from the previous quarter. Finally, 69 percent of Hispanics think it is a good time to purchase big-ticket items for their homes, up 17 points from the last quarter of 2017.

    What’s driving the increased optimism?

    There are likely many factors driving financial optimism among Hispanics – including low unemployment, greater income mobility and economic growth and stability.

    Another important factor is the number of Millennials who make up the Hispanic population. Pew Research Center has found 90 percent of Hispanics below the age of 30 report they expect their finances to get better in the next year, compared to 81 percent of the Hispanic population overall.

    This is important because Millennials make up about 40 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population – about twice the proportion that Millennials make up in the overall U.S. population.

    What does Hispanic optimism mean for credit unions?

    This is all good news for growth-minded credit unions desiring to serve Hispanics in their community. With increased optimism generally comes an increased need for the types of financial services credit unions are uniquely positioned to provide. Below are three areas you may want to review in response to these findings.

    Home mortgages and vehicle loans. Evaluate your loan programs to ensure they are relevant and meaningful to Hispanic consumers. Hispanics are declined for conventional home loans at a rate that’s seven percentage points higher than the national average, according to the 2016 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report. Do your programs offer low down payment options and flexibility in determining qualifying income? By expanding your data sources beyond income and credit scores to evaluate a consumer’s ability-to-repay, you may be able to qualify more good borrowers.

    Savings and investments. With more Hispanics interested in saving and investing their money, it’s a great time to offer culturally relevant education and programs to encourage these important habits. The need is there. According to a 2014 Prudential Research study, 19 percent of Hispanics had individual retirement accounts, compared to 39 percent of the general population. Only 6 percent had investments in individual stocks, bonds and mutual funds, compared to 18 percent of the general population. And 62 percent of Hispanics had a savings account, compared to 81 percent of the general population. Consider how you might grow that number among your Hispanic membership. More savings means a better bottom line for your credit union, allowing you to originate more loans and help more consumers. It’s a true win-win.

    Millennial outreach. The younger consumers learn the importance of building credit, saving and investing, the more prepared they will be for the future. Because Millennial Hispanics tend to be even more financially optimistic than older generations, it’s important that credit unions seek to establish a lifelong relationship with them when they’re young.

    Best of all, the more credit unions do to help Hispanics in their communities, the more financially optimistic they will become. And that’s good news for credit unions and Hispanic consumers alike.

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    Optimizing the Hispanic Digital Experience

    Posted by on July 31, 2018

    Digital transformation is the new buzz phrase across many industries, including financial services. And while optimizing consumers’ experience should be the focus of digital transformation, a successful strategy isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s important for credit union leaders to recognize that different consumer segments have different needs and wants when it comes to their use of digital tools.

    A new eMarketer study, U.S. Hispanics and Digital, reveals some of the unique digital characteristics of the Hispanic consumer segment. According to the study, the Hispanic “digital divide” has mostly closed, with about eight in 10 Hispanics now using the Internet.

    However, fewer than half of Hispanics have home broadband and nearly a quarter of Hispanic Internet users don’t own a computer. Meanwhile, nearly seven in 10 Hispanics have a smartphone, and their daily time spent using mobile (3 hours) is more than an hour higher than non-Hispanics.

    Digital video is popular among Hispanics, with 47 percent (vs. 32 percent of total respondents) saying they use streaming services such as Netflix more than they watch traditional TV. Additionally, Pew Research Center’s January polling identified 78 percent of Hispanic adults as YouTube viewers, compared to 73 percent of total adults.

    Hispanics also tend to be active on social media. Nearly two-thirds use social media, and about half are on Facebook. Data also suggests Hispanics are less likely than others to have a negative view of digital advertising.

    With these findings in mind, below are some best practices for credit union leaders to consider for enhancing the Hispanic digital experience.

    Optimize for mobile. Make sure your website and digital banking tools are mobile-friendly to accommodate Hispanics’ smartphone-centric behaviors. If your credit union doesn’t have a mobile app, consider implementing one.

    Opt for speed over complexity. Because many Hispanics don’t have home broadband and likely rely on their smartphone carrier data to access the Internet, make sure your website and digital banking tools aren’t overly complex. Large photos and fancy animations are fun but can be difficult to load on a phone that’s not connected to WiFi.

    Prioritize video. Video’s ability to grab consumers’ attention, create immersive experiences and spark engagement makes it a powerful means of communication, especially with Hispanics who over-index on digital video usage. Consider making video a key focus of your Hispanic marketing efforts.

    Adjust advertising budgets. Because Hispanics tend to use digital video and social media more than they watch traditional TV, advertising on places like YouTube, Facebook, and other mobile channels may be a better use of advertising dollars. The average cost of a 30-second primetime television commercial during the 2016-2017 season was $2,500. Think for a minute (or 30 seconds) about how many mobile and social media ads your credit union could deliver with that kind of investment.

    As with any Hispanic outreach strategy, the most important thing to keep in mind in your digital transformation journey is that different segments should not be treated as a single, undifferentiated market. Understanding various consumer segments and how they engage digitally is the first step to providing an exceptional consumer experience.

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    Greater Income Mobility among Hispanics Spells Opportunity for Credit Unions

    Posted by on July 16, 2018

    In our last blog post, we shared several stats that reveal how Hispanics in the U.S. are driving America’s economic growth. A recent study by Stanford, Harvard and Census Bureau researchers further confirms this point and signals additional opportunities for credit unions.

    The study shows Hispanics are escaping poverty and climbing the economic ladder at nearly the same pace as their white peers.

    THE RESEARCH

    •  Among Hispanics in the U.S. who grew up in the lowest income segment, 45 percent made it to the middle class or even higher, compared to 46 percent of whites.

    •  Of those who grew up in the lower middle class segment, 28 percent made it to the upper middle class or higher, compared to 35 percent of whites.

    •  Nearly half of Hispanic high school graduates, ages 18 to 24, were in college in 2016, up from just under a third in 1999.

    THE CREDIT UNION OPPORTUNITY

    Consider how you can help more Hispanic members become homeowners. As Hispanic income grows, so will the ability to buy homes and make other financial investments. In 2017, more than 167,000 Hispanics purchased a first home, taking the total number of Hispanic homeowners to nearly 7.5 million (46.2 percent of Hispanic households). Hispanics are the only demographic to have increased their rate of homeownership for the last three consecutive years. By offering a variety of home loan options supported by culturally relevant education, credit unions can help more Hispanics realize the dream of homeownership.

    Offer programs to help Hispanic members save for retirement. A recent survey found 71 percent of middle-income Hispanics feel they are behind on preparing for retirement, compared to 63 percent of the general population. At the same time, many have difficulty securing the financial services that can help them address these issues. The survey found 59 percent are unsure who to go to for financial advice and guidance; 53 percent say it’s difficult to find financial services companies that know how to help households like the ones they belong to; and 42 percent believe they have different financial planning needs than the average household. Fortunately, increasing income mobility will allow Hispanics to start saving for retirement sooner. Consider how your credit union can be the financial services provider many Hispanics are looking for to help with their retirement savings needs.

    Partner with high schools and colleges to offer financial education to students. While more Hispanics are attending college, their graduation rates tend to be lower than their white peers. A report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 45.8 percent of Hispanic students who entered college in 2010 completed their degree within six years, compared to 62 percent of whites. This disparity could be the result of several different factors, including financial challenges. By offering culturally relevant financial education on topics like budgeting and student loans – as well as encouraging students to establish a relationship with a credit union before or during their college years – you can help more Hispanic students graduate from college and land higher paying jobs.

    While the numbers on Hispanic income mobility are encouraging, there is still work to be done. Who better to do it than credit unions?

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    Hispanics Are Driving U.S. Economic Growth. Here’s Why Credit Unions Should Care.

    Posted by on July 2, 2018

    Anyone curious about the Hispanic community’s contribution to the U.S. economy need not look any further than these stats from the first half of this decade, provided by the Latino Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report:

    • At 2.9 percent, the U.S. Hispanic GDP experienced the third-highest growth rate in the world, behind only China and India. It was nearly 70-percent higher than the non-Hispanic U.S. GDP growth rate of 1.7 percent.

    • If it were an independent country, the U.S. Hispanic GDP would be the seventh largest in the world, larger than the GDP of India, Italy, Brazil or Canada.

    • While the non-Hispanic U.S. workforce shrank by about 4,000 workers, the Hispanic U.S. workforce grew by nearly 2.5 million, making possible an overall increase of 2.4 million in the U.S. workforce, ages 24 to 64.

    • The U.S. Hispanic college graduate population, ages 20 to 24, grew by 40.6 percent, compared to 13.6 percent for the non-Hispanic population in the same category.

    • As young Hispanics enter the workforce and older non-Hispanics leave it, the Hispanic GDP will account for an increasing portion of the total U.S. GDP growth, projected to be 24.4 percent of total U.S. GDP growth by 2020.

    What do these stats mean for credit unions?

    • As the Hispanic community’s impact on the U.S. economy continues to grow, so will its need for financial services. There’s never been a better time for credit unions to start (or grow) a Hispanic membership growth strategy. Those that don’t will find it increasingly difficult to grow their total membership, deposits and loan balances.

    • Young Hispanics will be an increasingly important pool of talent as credit unions grow and hire new employees. As college-educated Hispanics continue to enter the workforce at a faster rate than non-Hispanics, it’s important for credit unions to review their recruiting and hiring processes to ensure they are appealing to Hispanics.

    • Dispelling myths about Hispanics is a joint effort. Despite the above statistics, some segments of the U.S. population are not aware of the essential role Hispanics play in the success of the domestic economy. Consider ways you might partner with organizations and Hispanic leaders in your community to help tell the story.

    In short, the U.S. Hispanic community is growing in number, spending power, education and – for growth-minded credit unions – opportunity.

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