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  • Communicating COVID-19 Financial Changes and Resources to Minority Members

    Posted by on April 15, 2020

    Communicating with members is important, and the current pandemic has led to a flurry of change and resources. Don’t let your minority members get lost in the shuffle! Check out the video above to learn about three things you should be communicating to minority members.

     

    Additional Resources:

     

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    Kenia Talks Lending Expansion in Houston

    Posted by on February 11, 2020

    Coopera Client Relations Director Kenia Calderon Ceron recently traveled to Houston, TX to meet with a credit union about Latino member growth and strategic planning.

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    Serve the Latino Community and Tell the World

    Posted by on December 17, 2019

    New Year Resolution Goal List 2020 - Business office desk with notebook written in handwriting about plan listing of new year goals and resolutions setting.

    If you’re like me, you look forward to setting New Year’s resolutions. But whether you resolve to eat healthier, read more or reconnect with family and friends, you know that by sticking to your commitments, good things will happen and your goals will be achieved.

    What about your credit union and its goals? Chances are you’re doing a good job – maybe even a great job – serving the Latino community. You’re reaching them in meaningful ways and supporting various social, educational and financial causes designed to win their trust and build long lasting relationships. But who else knows about the goodness and success of your efforts?

    I’d like to challenge you to make a special New Year’s resolution for your credit union: In 2020, continue to serve the Latino community as well or better than you are currently, and make it a point to tell the world about it.

    Good news doesn’t have a season, and the challenges faced by the Latino population, especially immigrants, are always present. The work credit unions do to serve Latinos is critical to helping many of them have a trusted partner to achieve their financial goals with. Your work with the Latino community aligns with the credit union member-service mission of people helping people. Publicly broadcasting your efforts and their successes helps the Latino community trust and thrive, which helps credit unions grow.

    Here are some ideas to help you meet the goals of your New Year’s resolution:

    Develop a Latino Services Communication Plan, one that identifies service highlights throughout the year and ways to leverage those highlights. Include methodologies, objectives, steps toward achieving those objectives and measurable results. Find your communication niche in the Latino community. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail, so make this the first step in defining and outlining your efforts.

    Target media outlets and other influencers who you know will help carry your message. Local publications and broadcast stations thrive on meaningful news for and about their audiences. Understand their preferences, “hot button topics” and target messaging you think will appeal to them. Every newsperson loves an exclusive, and working directly with reporters, editors and broadcasters is the best way to create a relationship that will lead to future opportunities.

    Take appropriate advantage of available news options. Know the difference between a good news story and effective op-ed topics. Invite TV news teams into the credit union for newsworthy (and visually appealing) celebrations, or volunteer experts for on-air talk shows. Establish appropriate staff as subject experts who can speak knowledgeably about Latino and immigrant issues in print interviews or as part of panel discussions. A good source is a reporter’s best friend, so strive to become one.

    Take your message to the street, literally and figuratively. Look for opportunities to address social organizations like Rotary Clubs or church congregations. Be willing to work with local or state government bodies seeking information for passing regulations or legislation. Partner with other reputable social groups that share a common purpose with your credit union in serving the Latino community.

    Finally, use your imagination. If your resolution is to serve the Latino community and tell the world, how far can you extend your reach as an influencer to achieve your goals? Remember that credit unions started as someone’s good idea and blossomed into a global cooperative financial movement in the span of a few generations. For someone with a good idea, a dedicated heart and boundless energy, anything is possible.

    Good luck with your resolutions and happy New Year!

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    Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Hispanic Employees

    Posted by on November 15, 2019

    Hispanic Businessman

    Credit unions across the country are finding it challenging to hire new staff. Competition for good candidates from among a seemingly limited talent pool is fierce. A strong economy and increasing worker demand make hiring tough enough, but the rapidly diversifying population adds its own layer of both challenge and opportunity.

    Hispanics represent the fastest-growing population segment in the United States, which, in fact, is now the world’s second-largest Spanish speaking country after Mexico. These growth trends are set to continue –  the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that one in every two new employees entering the workforce by 2025 will be Hispanic.

    Attracting and retaining Hispanic employees soon will become critical to credit union success, if it hasn’t already. Recruiting Hispanic community members for open positions goes beyond simply having bilingual signs, flyers and ads. Here are some strategies for hiring success.

    • Build a strong, positive reputation within the Hispanic community. People like to do business with enterprises they trust and believe understand their needs. If the credit union creates a welcoming and culturally enlightened environment, more potential Hispanic members – and the Hispanic employees needed to serve them – will respond positively.

     

    • Appeal to diverse values and utilize culturally appropriate ad placements when posting positions. Having a clear idea which images and language appeal to Hispanics – and which inadvertently might be offensive – is critical to attracting qualified job candidates. Communication is based on common understanding. Make sure you know what message you’re conveying and spread the word of position openings through channels you know are likely to reach Hispanic candidates.

     

    • Understand and embrace cultural differences during interviews. The Hispanic culture contains aspects, such as communication styles, that can be different from those traditionally used in the U.S. employment culture. Understanding and addressing those differences will result in more positive – and successful – candidate interviews and hires, and lead to greater employee retention.

     

    • Hire at all levels. Truly successful credit unions are looking for Hispanic candidates for more than front-line teller spots. Hispanic mid- and upper-management positions are critical to the success of credit unions that want to successfully serve and grow their influence within the Hispanic community, and so, too, is Hispanic presence on the board of directors.

     

    • Know that, as you are interviewing them, they are interviewing you. Understand that you are presenting an opportunity to a candidate who may be considering several offers. As it is up to them to prove that they are the best person for the position, it is up to you to show that this is the best opportunity for their consideration.

     

    • Finally, hire for retention. Candidates look for career tracks in the same way companies want employees who can grow with their enterprise. When word gets out among the Hispanic community that your credit union is a good place for employees to grow within their profession, good candidates will seek you out, rather than the other way around.

     

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    A Dash to Help DACA Recipients Achieve Their Education Goals

    Posted by on May 15, 2019

    5k runners

    Image courtesy of Des Moines Metro Credit Union.

    Posted by Kenia Calderon on May 15, 2019

    Coopera is dedicated to helping both credit unions and Latino communities across the country grow together to realize their dreams and successes. We’re always pleased and excited to see and support such efforts in action.

    When we come across a credit union that goes above and beyond in helping Latino communities, especially the most vulnerable ones, we’re absolutely thrilled. That happened in April when $55.7 million Des Moines Metro Credit Union (DMMCU) stepped forward to financially support its staff members participating in the second annual 5K run and fundraiser in support of DACAmented students on the Iowa State University campus.

    DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allows youths under the age of 16 entering the United States to work in country for two years before having to reapply for a work permit. The current political environment poses a threat to the future of the DACA program, which primarily affects Latino immigrants. The program’s success is critical to the Latino community’s growth and personally important to me since I, too, am a DACA recipient.

    DMMCU had already provided exemplary service to its Latino members and critical support to its DACA community. The credit union offers a Credit Builder loan program that enables DACA recipients to pay application fees and other costs associated with their immigration processes.

    DMMCU also offers loans for members using ITINs and supports local community events such as the Iowa Latino Heritage Festival and the Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival, an event named for Coopera’s late founder. More than half of the credit union’s staff members are bilingual, and some are DACA recipients themselves or have friends who are.

    By supporting staff participation in the DACA 5K run, DMMCU took its message of support directly to the streets, or at least the Iowa State campus, to stand in solidarity with DACA recipients and promote how financial institutions can support the community outside of their branches. Funds raised by the run will help support the financial needs of DACA students attending the university, none of whom are eligible for government aid such as FAFSA.

    As the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, Latinos are playing a weighty role in the present and future of this country. DACA recipients are the Latino community’s next generation, and their ability to fully participate in the American society is critical not only to their success, but that of the country at large.

    According to a University of California – San Diego study, 95% of DACA recipients are either working or in school, 63% worked their way up to a better job, 54% bought their first car and 12% bought their first homes. They are active participants in the U.S. economy, in many cases thanks to help from their credit unions.

    Supporting DACA recipients will be critical to the continued growth of both the Latino community and the credit union movement. What is your institution doing to foster and support the process?

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    Coopera Believed in Me A Decade Before I Came OnBoard

    Posted by on April 19, 2019

    A 12-year-long impact and a bright future ahead.

    As Coopera’s Client Relations Director, I have the opportunity to guide our partners through their Hispanic/Latino growth strategies. Coopera’s impact could be described with many growth metrics, but it’s a much more personal topic for me. I believe I’m the result of what happens when credit unions see underserved communities as part of their family.

    Our late founder, Warren Morrow believed in me without even knowing me. He worked to partner credit unions with the Latino community for economic growth and vice versa. His vision for our Latino community included people like my family and me. People filled with aspirations and drive, while lacking support and financial guidance. I moved to the United States when I was 11 years old, therefore, I don’t remember what my parents’ relationship was with financial institutions in El Salvador. However, I can clearly remember how credit unions made me feel: refreshed. Credit unions and banks were some of the few places that had air conditioning and I’ve never mixed well with hot weather. As a kid, the credit union was a cold heaven for me.

    As one can imagine, moving to a whole new continent with absolutely nothing is not something a kid looks forward to. I saw my parents go from working in offices to sacrificing their bodies with multiple manual labor jobs. Even though they worked so many hours, the money never seemed to last. Four years after our arrival, they grew quite tired and frustrated about the cycle we found ourselves in. My parents’ main priority was to provide and pave a path for their children to achieve college degrees.

    My parents saw entrepreneurship as the opportunity that could get us closer to stability and higher education. At 15, I became their business and financial advisor. I urged them to open an account with a credit union because I knew I didn’t have the tools and knowledge to help them. It was a credit union who educated us about credit scores, checking account usage and the many benefits of a debit card.

    On Fridays, I would go in with my dad to deposit our business’ checks. The credit union staff came to know me at a very personal level. They quickly learned about my aspiration to earn a college degree and the obstacles I would face due to my lack of legal status.

    In 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced and implemented; my family had to come up with over $1,000 to cover immigration and attorney fees. While I was filled with joy and excitement, I knew we couldn’t gather such an amount overnight. Through the credit union’s ITIN lending program, they were able to give me a small dollar loan that helped me apply for DACA and within 6 months, I had a work permit and a social security number. Our credit union believed in us and knew what this program meant to our family. The loan opened doors of opportunity for me and got me a step closer to a college education.

    From that moment on, our credit union became our trusted advisor. The staff would send private scholarships my way, helped me complete an Individual Development Account (IDA) program and gave me the financial education tools that my parents couldn’t provide for me at the time.

    The credit union that helped me in my youth, was a client of Coopera at that time. Coopera helped them implement an ITIN lending program and guided them in serving people like myself. Today, I get to help credit unions impact the lives of individuals who find themselves in similar spaces that I’ve navigated before. Working for an organization that is passionate to see credit unions and Latinos achieve greatness together is beyond rewarding. Credit unions and Coopera assure me that a better tomorrow is in progress.

    Happy 12-Year Anniversary, Coopera!

    Hear more of Kenia’s story as  featured on the Filene Research Institute podcast.

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    Credit Unions Build Cultural Bridges, Not Barriers to Serve the Hispanic Community

    Posted by on March 22, 2019

    Hispanic Heritage Month

    Credit unions are known by the communities they serve and their outreach efforts to make members, not customers, an active part of the institution. “People over profit” is, after all, the credit union mantra.

    More credit unions are actively reaching out to Hispanic communities in attempts to include them as valued members of their financial families. The most successful credit unions embrace the Hispanic community’s unique nature in ways that create a blended community of both the Hispanic and credit union cultures. It’s a better methodology than assuming that one size – specifically that of the credit union – fits all.

    There’s a need among Hispanic families for affordable and accessible financial services.  More than 16 percent of the Hispanic population is unbanked, according to data released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. An additional 30 percent of those families are underbanked, meaning they rely on often costly services provided by payday lenders, check cashers and remittance transfer providers instead of financial institutions. But there is a better way.

    With their hyper local roots and service focus, credit unions have a natural advantage over banks when serving the Hispanic community. Credit unions that seek to understand and embrace aspects of those cultures into their own institutional DNA will have the best luck providing Hispanic members with critical financial services.

    At Coopera, we’ve helped numerous credit unions serve Hispanic members and have seen both the most and least successful of those efforts. A credit union that builds its service profile around one Spanish-speaking staff member – no matter what level of employee they are – may have the hardest time merging cultures. The designated individual may be very effective, but the rest of the institution’s culture likely will not have changed to meet Hispanic member needs. What’s more, if the Spanish-speaker were to leave, chances are those Hispanic members may follow.

    We’ve seen other misfires by credit unions that haven’t identified a specific reason to serve the Hispanic community. Clearly identifying a service goal gives the credit union a foundation on which to build its relationship, as well as a distinct identity in the minds of those members. Some credit unions have told us they want to help their Hispanic members build good credit, while others have said they want to assist members in affording their first homes. In either case, the goal builds the foundation.

    In the best cases, ongoing communications between Hispanic members and the institution – and within the institution itself – have resulted in effective service programs and welcoming environments that strategically intersect with the Hispanic community and make those members feel valued, understood and taken care of. As in all cases, the more you understand about the people and culture you’re trying to serve, the more successful that service will be.

    Hispanic community members often define relationships within the context of family and isn’t that what credit unions do as well? The successful blend of those families will benefit all.

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    What Credit Unions Can Learn from the Travel Industry’s Hispanic Experience

    Posted by on February 5, 2019

    With snow blanketing the ground and cold winds swirling the arctic air, few things sound better than summer vacation. Can you feel the sun-warmed sand between your toes?

    Your Hispanic members feel the same way. In fact, summer is when most of them travel for leisure or home to visit family and friends. But now is the time to plan and reserve the services they need to travel comfortably. We’ve noted this before, but the trend is even more prevalent when it comes to travel, Hispanics prefer to research and book their travel primarily online or through mobile applications.

    Hispanic travelers comprise a large market for travel companies. As one of the fastest growing U.S. demographics, Hispanics spend $56 billion annually in leisure travel, according to the National Tour Association. In addition, 79 percent of Hispanics take at least one vacation per year, while 17 percent take three trips per year. Hispanics have many emotional ties to their country of origin, so they are very likely to go back even a couple of times a year when they can.

    So, what are the travel companies doing to win the business of Hispanics?

    The key to usage and growth of the travel industry’s Hispanic market has been to have a Spanish-language website that caters to Hispanic members’ cultural needs. More hotels, airlines and other travel industry members have added these sites, and their profits have grown because of it.

    Take the airline JetBlue. Six weeks after deploying a Spanish mobile website, the airline’s Hispanic traffic grew by 80 percent. Since then revenue from Hispanics visiting the site has grown 300 percent, enrollment in JetBlue’s loyalty program grew 200 percent and nearly 50 percent of all Hispanic customers visit the site via mobile devices.

    The data makes it clear that establishing Spanish-speaking and culturally friendly sites is an investment that pays off. For credit unions, that means creating online sites and mobile applications that segments within their Hispanic membership want.

    In addition, you may want to consider improving your search engine optimization so that Hispanics looking for financial institutions find your credit union first, as well as making localized on-site searches easier. And don’t forget that many legal names include a tilde and/or accent mark. Your site must accept those symbols, especially since exact spellings are important to matching travelers’ valid IDs.

    Making it easier for Hispanics to learn about your financial services in their preferred language, will make them much more loyal to you in the future. Just ask JetBlue.

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    Let Member Metrics Drive Your Hispanic Market Development Strategy

    Posted by on November 27, 2018

    The most successful credit unions clearly understand the needs of the members they’re serving. In many cases, member analytics are at the heart of the strategies used to reach those members and meet those needs.

    Analytics are especially important when it comes to serving Hispanics – either those who already are credit union members or those who have yet to become members. Understanding those markets through member data collected and interpreted by our team of experts at Coopera, helps credit unions effectively attract, recruit and ultimately, meet those members’ needs.

    We’ve noted before that Hispanics comprise one of the fastest growing U.S. demographic segments, with one out of every six U.S. residents citing Hispanic origins. This group accounts for more than $1 trillion in buying power, and yet roughly half are unbanked or underserved. Hispanics present a prime opportunity for credit union service, one that will only grow over time.

    Moreover, it’s one thing to bring Hispanics through your doors and another to involve them in your full menu of services. Analytics can tell a credit union key characteristics about their Hispanic members that can be used to determine the type of services they need and want the most. Ultimately, the credit union has the information to develop a strategy to successfully foster membership growth and product engagement from their Hispanic market.

    Our team has developed tools that can sort Hispanic members into various groups, ranging from country of origin to socio-economic strata, that enable credit unions to better understand their members.

    Our team of experts analyze the data using a variety of assessment tools. Our Hispanic Target Market Analysis looks at Hispanic populations within a credit union’s various branch areas, making service recommendations for primary and secondary Hispanic target markets based on numerous socio-economic indicators. We also utilize our Hispanic Member Analysis tool to measure the product and service usage of existing Hispanic credit union members, as well as their language preference.

    Many credit unions begin their journey with our Hispanic Opportunity Navigator, which uses analytical data to create a literal roadmap for serving Hispanic populations. The data collected helps us create a suggested strategic development plan customized for each individual credit union.

    These tools and the strategies reach beyond a credit union’s marketing initiative and helps executive teams establish success metrics that can help drive the institution’s future growth. Individualized guidance and the ability to approach the Hispanic market on a more holistic level is where our services differ from those of mere data collection firms.

    Some credit unions still harbor concerns about the time, cost and effort it will take to serve what may be for them an unfamiliar market, many of whose members speak a different language. But with the right analytic tools this can be less of a challenge than they might think.

    Serving Hispanics is something many credit unions have yet to understand, but it’s not something they will never understand. Because of the cultural and language differences, that service may require an augmented development strategy that operates a little differently than the institution’s mainstream strategic plan.

    Fortunately, the return on investment for credit unions that have pursued the Hispanic market has been the most successful segment of the institution’s overall development plan. Using analytics is the best way to start that journey, or support a journey already underway to reach and serve this rapidly growing demographic.

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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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