In its 2017 Diversity Report, Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) provided an update on its efforts to create a more inclusive financial services industry. Managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co., FinLab seeks to identify, test and bring to scale promising innovations to improve financial health in America. The program is dedicated to supporting and encouraging diversity within the early-stage fintech space.
“As an investor and supporter of early-stage startups, we believe that diverse teams simply build better products,” writes CFSI FinLab Senior Manager Maria Lajewski in the report. “By having a more comprehensive understanding of the market, diverse teams are more likely to build products that address the needs of a broad swath of consumers, including those who are historically underserved. And it’s those companies that are much more likely to grow and scale to reach millions of customers.”
Below are a couple interesting findings Lajewski shares in the report:
Of the 57 percent of Americans who struggle with their financial health, some segments of the population – including low-income women and people of color – struggle disproportionately.
Of the 78 FinLab applicants who self-identified as targeting at least one underserved community, 32 had not yet raised any capital and 22 had raised less than $500,000. However, the average amount of capital raised across the total applicant pool was $630,000.
LESSONS FOR CREDIT UNIONS
FinLab’s findings and work to create a more inclusive industry are relevant to credit unions in several ways. Here are a few key takeaways:
Consider extending credit to startups. The FinLab report reveals many early-stage companies, especially those serving underserved communities, struggle securing investment capital. With their community focus and “people helping people” philosophy, credit unions are well-suited to help meet that need. As reported in Inc., Apple may exist today because co-founder Steve Wozniak was able to get a loan from his credit union while the company was still based in a garage. Talk about a feather in that credit union’s cap.
Educate staff and community. Throughout FinLab’s eight-month program, the organization brings in a wide range of people and experiences to help founders deepen their understanding of the financial challenges low-income and underserved consumers face. FinLab also organizes dinners to discuss how to build diverse organizational teams and culturally relevant products for underserved communities. Credit unions could easily adopt similar models to educate their employees and community members.
Host “day-in-the-life” events. During a workshop called FinX, FinLab participants go into a local community to perform a series of real-time financial transactions, such as cashing a check, buying and loading a prepaid card and sending a money order. Here again, credit unions could organize similar activities to help their staff better understand the challenges faced by the underserved in their communities. Coopera coordinates similar activities through its Coopera Immersion Program. Our staff guide credit union team members through a series of exercises designed to give them a better idea of what life is like for the underserved in their communities.
“While we understand these issues are multifaceted and will never be solved in a single conversation over dinner, creating a safe space and the opportunity to have these discussions is one way that we can regularly check our individual and collective blind spots,” writes Lajewski. “Where are the missed partnership opportunities or design decisions that could open up your customer base to those who have the most to gain from your product? It takes a little extra effort to make sure we’re creating a safe space to discuss these kinds of questions, but it’s an investment we’re willing to make.”Leave a comment
The annual Financially Underserved Market Size Study, conducted by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), illustrates the tremendous opportunity that exists to address the needs of financially underserved consumers. The study measures the size, composition and opportunity for products and services underserved individuals use to save, spend, borrow and plan.
Here are some of the 2017 study’s highlights:
• Underserved consumers spent $173 billion in fees and interest to use $1.94 trillion in financial services in 2016.
• Spending by financially underserved consumers increased 6.6 percent, or $10.7 billion, in 2016.
• The market has grown an average of four percent each year since 2009.
The report also identifies five trends driving opportunities for financial services providers. What follows are a few ways credit unions may consider leveraging these trends to improve the financial lives of underserved consumers in their communities.
How Credit Unions Can Help
How Credit Unions Can Help
How Credit Unions Can Help
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Clearly, there are many ways a credit union may be able to leverage the trends driving opportunities in underserved markets. Before embarking on a new initiative, however, a credit union should ensure the strategy aligns with its mission and target market. Doing it right requires a decent amount of work, and importantly, buy-in from executives and the board. But for credit unions looking to tap into the huge potential of the underserved opportunity and improve the financial lives of more consumers, it’s likely worth the effort.Leave a comment
On a recent Freakonomics podcast episode, Is America Ready for a No-Lose Lottery, a professor at the Saïd School of Business specializing in consumer finance shared some interesting insights about consumers’ savings habits (or lack thereof). He surveyed nearly 10,000 people to see if they could come up with $2,000 in 30 days.
“Why $2,000?” Tufano asked. “Because an auto transmission is about $1,500. Most estimates of everyday emergencies are about that order of magnitude… And then, why this language ‘come up with’ as opposed to ‘save?’ Because we wanted to see if people had access to resources between savings, credit, friends and family.
What he found was that nearly half of Americans are not able to come up with $2,000 in 30 days. That means they are just one emergency or crisis away from dire circumstances.
The study highlights the need for credit unions to encourage their members to save, really save. A number of financial services providers are finding creative ways to do just that by adapting to consumer behaviors, particularly those of low-income communities. Below are a couple examples.
Twenty states currently allow prize-linked savings accounts as a way to encourage their residents to save. With this model, consumers deposit money in an account with an understanding they won’t receive interest on their deposits. Instead, the interest of all participants is pooled together and awarded as a large cash-based prize.
This type of account appeals to certain segments of the population because of a phenomenon economists call “skewness.” Skewness is the idea that despite really poor odds, there is an almost irresistible appeal to the idea that with a low upfront investment, one big win could change your life. This phenomenon is illustrated by the nearly $60 billion Americans spend on lottery tickets every year.
Prize-linked savings does carry a few roadblocks and concerns – namely, such a product is not yet legal in every state. Also, the product may be difficult for consumers to understand, particularly for underserved populations who may not even be familiar with the role of traditional financial institutions.
However, if we can overcome those barriers, it may be an interesting product. As Freakonomics host Stephen Dubner said, “In a country where it’s easy to borrow your way to bankruptcy, where you can buy lottery tickets anytime you buy a loaf of bread, prize-linked savings is like a big neon billboard that turns a boring old savings account into an exaggeration of itself. Stick some money in here, it says, and you just might hit a big payday. And even if you don’t — well, your money still belongs to you.”
Tanda is a Spanish term used to describe a savings and lending circle among family and friends that helps people reach financial goals. With more than 200 different names that vary from country to country, the concept of an “informal loan club” has been around for hundreds of years.
Here’s an example of how it works: 10 friends and family members form a tanda. Each member gives $100 every week to the group’s organizer. At the end of 10 weeks, one participant gets the payout of $1,000. This continues until each member has received the payout. By working in a group in which others are counting on them, participants have motivation to stick with the plan. Tandas are particularly popular in Hispanic and immigrant communities in which a high level of value is placed on mutual trust among family and friends.
To appeal to today’s increasing digital consumers, organizations such as eMoneyPool and PayPal are bringing the concept of a tanda into the digital world.
eMoneyPool is a sharing community that operates much like a tanda except anyone can join in less than five minutes using a connected device. Unlike a traditional tanda that only includes family members and close friends, eMoneyPool offers a marketplace where participants can take part in a pool anytime with people from across the country. This means there will always be a pool available to meet their needs. With PayPal Money Pools, participants can create a page that lets others easily chip in for group gifts, special events and more.
Whether prize-linked savings or next-generation tandas are the right path forward for your credit union, one thing is clear: There exists a real need among consumers, and particularly among Hispanics and other underserved communities, for creative and relevant savings options.Leave a comment
As in most cultures, shopping and gift-giving are important parts of the holiday season for many Hispanics. According to recent research by ThinkNow Retail, 33 percent of Hispanics say they will be spending more this holiday season than they did last year, compared to 30 percent across all markets. Some other interesting findings from the study include:
–About 41 percent of Hispanics plan to pay for most of their holiday purchases with a debit card, higher than any other market. Cash and credit tie for second among Hispanics at 24 percent each.
–Smartphones will be the most commonly used device for making online holiday purchases among Hispanics. About 62 percent of Hispanics will use a smartphone, compared to 50 percent across all markets. Laptops, on the other hand, will be the device used the most overall across all markets.
–On average, Hispanics plan to buy about 35 percent of their holiday purchases online and about 46 percent in-store.
For credit unions serving Hispanic communities, it’s important to understand holiday purchasing behaviors to better tailor marketing offers, as well as products and services. Even more important, however, is the understanding of specific motivations. That level of intelligence allows your teams to create a deeper connection between the credit union and its community.
In the Hispanic culture, most holidays have their origins in religion, specifically Christianity. Approximately 77 percent of Hispanics are Christians, with the overwhelming majority identifying as Catholic.
As such, Christmas is one of the most popular Hispanic holidays, and there are many traditions associated with it. Here are a few favorites:
Tamale-making parties – Tamales are holiday staples in many parts of Latin America. Because making tamales is a time-consuming task, many people participate in tamaladas, where participants bond over recipe swaps and bulk prep of the holiday favorite.
Christmas Eve feast – Nochebuena is a very special celebration shared with family and close friends on Christmas Eve. Food plays an important role during this celebration. Each country, and even certain regions within a specific Latin American country, has a special dish.
Re-enactments and plays – Posadas are re-enactments of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay before Jesus was born. Many posadas start at church services. Las pastorelas are plays that retell the Christmas story.
It’s clear religion and family are at the heart of the Hispanic holiday experience. Whether it’s partnering with a local community center or church to support a tamalada or posada, having a drawing for a pork roast, a common centerpiece of the Nochebuena meal, or simply sharing holiday family fun ideas on your website and social media channels, there are a variety of ways credit unions can connect with Hispanics in their communities this holiday season.Leave a comment
In October, I shared the plans of three Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant recipients specific to how they will use the funds earned. This post will take a look at four additional recipients of the grant, which is made possible by Coopera, CUNA and the National Credit Union Foundation. Each of the recipients is a Juntos Avanzamos-designated cooperative, a program taken to the national stage by the Federation.
Ascentra Credit Union
“We have been building and evolving our program to accommodate our successful growth of Hispanic members,” said Alvaro Macias, Ascentra AVP of community development. “We also have an internal group of bilingual staff that meets 3-4 times a year and a community development advisory group that evolved out of our Latino Outreach Advisory Group. Today, we are positioning the credit union to build community partnerships that are mutually beneficial to members, other organizations and long-term sustainability of the credit union.”
Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU)
“The Warren Morrow Grant will help us close the outreach gap by supplementing our budget for providing financial education to the Spanish-speaking community,” said SCCCU President/CEO Beth Carr. “Additionally, more nonprofits serving the Hispanic community here are being required by grant funders to include financial literacy and training in their grant proposals and programs. As a Juntos Avanzamos-certified credit union, we feel it is our responsibility to assist our community non-profits.”
DC Federal Credit Union (DGEFCU)
“This enhances our credit union’s current Hispanic growth strategy in a couple ways,” said DC FCU President/CEO Carla Decker. “First, it grows our staff’s professional competency and serves to retain talent. Second, the training will add another resource to a budding partnership opportunity with the potential for tremendous impact and further expansion of DGEFCU’s footprint.”
JetStream Federal Credit Union
“At JetStream, we feel the need to help the professionals of tomorrow by providing them with the tools they need today for a better future,” said Vanessa Miranda, manager of HR and community outreach for JetStream. “The grant will go directly into the hands of a deserving local Hispanic low-income student.”
This collective of credit unions is proof the industry sees the Hispanic community as important to the future of the movement. Kudos to each of you for the continued effort to reach and serve this influential and growing segment.Leave a comment
Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65. By 2030, as the last Baby Boomers turn 65, older adults are expected to reach 20 percent of the U.S. population. What’s more, according to the Institute on Aging, 65 percent of older adults with long-term care needs rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance, and another 30 percent supplement family care with paid assistance.
The HuffPost recently called growth of older Hispanics “the most prominent of rapid changes coming to the look and culture of the elderly in America.”
Not only are Hispanics making up a growing percentage of older Americans, they also tend to be more likely to turn to family and friends first for assistance, before going to outside agencies.
As one expert on grandparenting writes:
In part this tendency can be traced to difficulties with English. Almost three-fourths of Hispanics speak Spanish in the home… In addition, Hispanics are more likely than the population at large to live in poverty and to be uninsured. These circumstances also may influence their tendency to seek help from friends and family.
According to the Census Bureau, Hispanics are less likely than whites, blacks or Asians to live alone. In addition, they are more likely to want to stay geographically close to family members. They are seldom long-distance grandparents by choice.
Credit unions are well-suited to serve both older Hispanic populations and the family members they turn to for help. Here’s how…
A study of more than 400 residents of subsidized senior housing concluded that lower-income, older adults desire the following six banking services from their financial institutions (FIs):
1. Low-cost, low-fee checking accounts
It’s also important for your members who are faced with the responsibility of caring for their aging family members to know your credit union is there to support them. This can be in the form of products and services, such as guardian accounts, that make it easier for them to help their loved ones. It can also be in the form of consultative advice, information and resources, such as on a dedicated page of your website. Here are a few examples:
As we look for ways to put the people helping people philosophy into action, it can be beneficial to proactively search for the people most in need of that help. Often, this requires getting outside our comfort zone and learning as much as we can about those individuals. Aging people of all cultures and backgrounds have unique needs with far-reaching impact. How can your credit union look more closely at this market to make retirement years some of the best in your members’ lives?Leave a comment
The 2017 Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant will help seven credit unions continue their Hispanic outreach and community impact efforts. Named in honor of the late Warren Morrow, who dedicated his life and career to helping the underserved and empowering the Hispanic community, the grant is made possible by Coopera, CUNA and the National Credit Union Foundation. Each of the grant recipients is a Juntos Avanzamos-designated cooperative, a program taken to the national stage by the Federation.
This post details how three of the grant recipients plan to allocate the funds. We will cover plans of the remaining four recipients in an upcoming post.
Members Credit Union (MCU)
“Along with financial education, we will bring opportunity for membership in a safe, Hispanic-friendly financial cooperative where they will receive low-cost services that are relevant to their lives and financial counseling to help them meet their goals,” said Kathy Chartier, MCU president/CEO. “We often see members and potential members who are taken advantage of by large banks and predatory lenders. This program is specifically directed toward the Hispanic community with the goal of helping them improve their financial understanding and well-being.”
Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union (NECCU)
“NECCU offers a comprehensive level of bilingual financial services to impact the needs of our target market,” said NECCU President/CEO Sue Cuevas. “We integrate financial services with education to improve members’ financial competency. In addition to basic financial services, staff deliver one-on-one orientations to new members when they inquire about share savings or share certificates of deposit. This empowers members with tools to understand their financial situations, set goals and develop paths to asset building/ownership.”
Point West Credit Union
“Point West is endeavoring to engage the local Hispanic community where they live, work, socialize and seek assistance and services, while also testing a branching model outside of the traditional brick and mortar solutions,” said Steve Pagenstecher, Point West vice president of member experience. “By providing a full-service ATM coupled with an experienced and educated Point West employee, the goal is to increase access to an underserved community while driving Hispanic membership growth and financial outcomes for the community.”
Please join me in congratulating each of these cooperatives for recognizing that serving the Hispanic community is not only the right thing to do, it’s smart business, as well.Leave a comment